As my parents get older, I am beginning to notice health concerns pop up here and there, affecting their quality of life. My once-invincible mom and dad are becoming older. One day soon, they may need some help.
Caregiving.org estimates that in 2014 “there were 34.2 million adults in the United States who have been a caregiver to an adult age 50 or older in the prior 12 months.” Many of them are part of the Sandwich Generation — raising their own families while also caring for our aging parents.
It’s not easy to watch your dad or mom struggle with daily tasks like walking up the stairs or folding laundry. And when a parent has also been stricken with a debilitating disease like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, those daily tasks that were once so simple become extraordinarily more difficult, necessitating assistance from a loving son or daughter.
But what happens when you, as the primary caregiver, can’t be on call 24/7? It might be time to call in a professional caregiver, someone who can not only give your loved one the care they need but also provide you some much-needed respite.
I interviewed Julie Aiken, CEO of Ameritech College of Healthcare in Provo and Draper, to find out what questions people should ask to make sure they don’t make bad hiring decisions. Keep these questions in mind as you select a caregiver who can bring much-needed peace of mind to you, your family and your ailing loved one.
1. Did you find this caregiver from a referral?
Chances are you know someone who, like you, has needed some assistance caring for a loved one. Time to ask them for a referral and a barrage of questions. Which agency did they select? What was the name of their favorite caregiver? Why do they recommend the agency? What did they like best about the agency? Was there ever any conflict between the caregiver and the patient? How was it handled? Any concerns over scheduling?
Now is the time to get picky. Remember, this caregiver will be coming into your home or your parents’ home on a regular basis, sometimes unsupervised. You want to make sure to get all your questions and concerns answered.
2. If this caregiver comes from an agency, what are the hiring policies?
Agencies have different requirements and parameters when hiring. High-quality agencies will check certifications and do thorough background and drug tests.
“There are many agencies popping up left and right that claim to be caregivers for the elderly, especially in people’s homes,” cautioned Aiken. “We make the assumption that those agencies are regulated and doing due diligence in hiring. That’s not always the case. It is very important to check the agency itself.”
3. Did you verify the caregiver’s license?
Once you’ve selected a caregiver, do your own round of research. You can verify most licenses by simply typing in the caregiver’s name into the Utah State Board of Nursing’s license verification website. Go to the Licensee lookup and verification athttps://secure.utah.gov/llv/search/index.html
4. Did you do your own interview of the caregiver?
5. Did you ask for the caregiver’s work history?
Always ask for a complete work history, including references. “I wouldn’t hire anyone who the reference wasn’t 100 percent satisfied with,” Aiken said.
6. Have you seen the caregiver handle pressure situations?
As part of the interview, ask the caregiver how they handle frustrating moments. How would they react if the patient, for some reason, becomes angry or uncooperative? Are they going to remain calm, or could they become abusive?
“A quality caregiver should have a calm, sweet and tender disposition, no matter how stressful the situation,” said Josh Albrechtsen, executive director of Orem Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing. “Stubborn patients can be frustrating, but a caregiver should be trained to handle any situation in a calm way.”
7. In an agency situation, will the agency trade caregivers, if necessary?
If the assigned caregiver is a bad fit for your loved one, do you have the ability to ask for a replacement?
8. Will the agency do surprise visits?
Does the agency check in on their employees? How often?
Plan on making your own surprise visits, too. “Is the house clean? Did the caregiver make a meal? Is your loved one dressed?” Aiken said. “You don’t want to worry about your loved one all day long. You do want to make sure the agency is worried about it.”
9. Did you install security cameras?
Regardless of whether you trust the caregiver, it’s good practice to install a monitoring device to record interactions between the patient and caregiver. Be sure to alert the caregiver that he or she is on camera. Ensure the caregiver that it’s for his or her safety and the safety of the patient and that it provides you with the ability to promote and continue any follow-up care, as well as help with disease prevention.
Selecting a professional caregiver is not an easy task; but, by asking yourself these nine questions throughout the hiring process, you’re well on your way to finding the perfect fit for your loved one.