Four questions to ask potential caregivers


As the Baby Boomer generation continues to age into their retirement years, it is becoming clear that Generation X, children of those boomers, are now becoming the new Sandwich Generation, as they not only raise their growing families but also become the caregivers for their aging parents.

Many of us Gen Xers are busy multi-tasking, bouncing back and forth between soccer games and making sure Mom and Dad have taken all their daily prescriptions. But when the schedule becomes too overwhelming, or when a parent is suffering with a more complex, debilitating illness like Alzheimer’s or cancer, it may be time to call in the second string. It may be time for a professional caregiver.

Before enlisting the help of a caregiver, however, there are four vital questions that need to be asked of both the caregiver and his or her home health agency. Asking these questions will help alleviate any concerns for both you and your loved one.

1. What certifications and training does the agency require?

Whether it’s a CNA license or Home Health Aide certification, caregivers are usually better qualified when they are certified. Find out what level of care your loved one will need and then specify your caregiver preference with the agency.

“If you hire a caregiver through an agency, you can ask for information on any certifications a caregiver has received,” said Melanie Haiken, senior editor. “In many states, the agency itself also must be licensed and/or accredited by the state in which it operates.”

2. Does the agency do surprise checks on their employees?

How does the agency monitor the work of their staff of caregivers? Do they send out supervisors with staff on patient visits? Do they conduct random visits? In order to maintain consistent quality care for all their clients, a reputable caregiver agency will conduct regular monitoring.

3. What background checks does the agency conduct?

With so many home health agencies available for the elderly, it is easy to assume that these agencies are regulated and doing their due diligence in hiring. But that is not always the case. Once you have selected a caregiver agency, assess the agency’s hiring practices.

Does the agency conduct pre-hire and random drug screenings? “So many of the elderly have pain meds that it can become a place for people with narcotics addictions to come in people’s homes,” said Julie Aiken, CEO of Ameritech College of Healthcare.

Make sure the agency conducts criminal background checks on both state and federal levels. Believe it or not, bad players can easily move from state to state, so a federal background check is vital to your loved one’s safety.

4. What is the caregiver’s work history?

Once you have been assigned a caregiver, it’s now time to conduct your own personal interview. First item on the list is to request a copy of their work history. This should not be the caregiver’s first job, so make sure to get previous work references. Call each reference to ensure this is the best caregiver for your loved one.

None of these questions should go unasked when hiring a professional caregiver. To protect the safety of your loved one, their home, and extended family, these questions could make the difference between a nightmare and a lasting friendship.

This article was previously published by the OC Register and republished here with permission.


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