Your aging mom is failing. She doesn’t need skilled nursing or assisted living yet – just a little help with things like light housekeeping, meal prep and getting in and out of the shower. You’ve heard a lady from your mom’s church sometimes works as an independent caregiver, but is that the best option?
“Private caregivers make up what we call the ‘gray market’ – providers who are unrelated to the client, not working for a regulated agency and potentially uninsured and untrained,” said Mark Goetz, co-founder and president of Trail Ridge Home Care’s partner, the HomeCare Advocacy Network (HCAN). “While hiring one of these independent caregivers might seem like a good idea, families should be aware of the risks.”
If you’re considering hiring privately, consider the following:
Evaluation. Is a private caregiver qualified to assess your loved one’s needs? Does he/she have the experience to develop a care plan to meet those needs?
Background checks. It will be your responsibility to verify the caregiver’s qualifications and perform all necessary background checks to protect your loved one from incompetent care, elder abuse and financial exploitation.
Training. You will also be responsible for determining if the care provider knows how to safely care for your loved one. For example, does he/she know how to safely transfer your loved one from a bed to a wheelchair?
Payroll taxes. Withholding, reporting income taxes and paying Social Security – if you’ve never been an employer, this can be very complicated. If you pay “under the table”, you could find yourself facing fines and even criminal penalties if you’re caught.
Work-related injuries. What happens if your care provider is injured while caring for your loved one? He/She could file a workman’s compensation claim or even file a lawsuit against your family.
Arranging back-up care. Families often find themselves scrambling if the caregiver has to miss a shift because of illness, a family emergency or quits unexpectedly.
Discipline/Termination. If the care provider doesn’t work out, it will be up to you to discipline or, if necessary, terminate his/her employment. If the caregiver files an unemployment claim, it will be up to you to navigate the system.
“The good news – if you go through a reputable home care agency, you won’t have to worry about those things,” Goetz said. “At Trail Ridge Home Care, we thoroughly screen our caregivers, and we provide them with ongoing, world-class training. We also handle all of the human resource-related tasks – like payroll taxes and insurance. And, if your loved one’s regular caregiver has to miss a shift, we’ll arrange for a back-up.”
Most importantly, Goetz said, using an agency gives families much needed peace of mind.
“We know every senior is different. That’s why we work closely with families to develop customized care plans designed to meet their loved ones’ unique needs,” he said. “Whether it’s for just a few hours a week or 24/7, we’ll make sure your loved ones receives the care needed to remain safely in their homes for as long as possible.”
To learn more about our services, visit TrailRidgeHomeCare.com.