Things to Consider When Hiring and Managing Your Own Caregivers

When it comes to personal caregivers, having the right candidate is vital to ensuring you or your loved one receives the proper care. We have discussed in a previous blog that finding just any caregiver isn’t recommended as it ignores many important factors required in order for your caregiver to do their best. Clients need to be able to trust their caregivers, and caregivers need to be aware of the specific needs of their client. This all comes together to give you peace of mind that your or your loved one is being well cared for while you are away.

All of these elements of a good caregiver are essential to consider if you are thinking of hiring and managing your own caregiver. If you are looking to take on the responsibility of hiring and managing your caregiver, there are some particular aspects of the process that you will need to be aware of.

The Caregiver Hiring Process

The first step you are going to take to acquire your own caregiver is going to be the hiring process. Hiring an employee is typically a difficult task on its own. You need to be aware of the best way to filter out applications so you can focus on interviewing candidates that are qualified and come ready with work experience and professional references. Here is a brief checklist to consider when you are creating your job ad:

  1. Does the job ad accurately describe the exact care that will be required?
  2. Is the shift time and day expectations clearly posted?
  3. Have you included details about salary and benefits?
  4. Did you list the required certifications/references you are looking for?

You will find yourself overwhelmed by applicants that are under-qualified if you don’t clearly state requirements for the position, and you want to limit the amount of interviews only to those who fit the exact needs for your loved one.

Now that you have posted your job and picked out the applicants to interview, you should now prepare to ask questions to determine who will be the best fit. There are some typical interview questions you can use that will give you a good idea about each candidate. Here are a few examples of questions you are going to want to have:

  1. What makes the applicant interested in being a caregiver?
  2. What is their prior work experience and why did they leave their last position?
  3. Do they have any special training? Or are there aspects of the job they will be unable to do?
  4. How flexible is their schedule and how do they plan to get to work?

While these are not the only questions you should ask, they will help get a conversation going that will allow you to find out as much about the applicant as you can during the interview process, as you are going to want to be making an informed decision when it comes time to hire.

After you have gone through posting your job and interviewing your applicants, it is time to choose the best fit and develop a written agreement. This is a crucial document as it will keep you covered in the future if there is a dispute between you and your caregiver.  The written agreement should be signed by both parties and include all relevant information pertaining to the caregiver and their expected duties, and various details of the job they will need to be aware of. 

The Paperwork

Another necessary part of hiring your caregiver to consider is the paperwork and legal responsibilities required of having an employee. You will need to develop a reliable way to pay your caregiver, pay Social Security taxes and keep proper financial records for your income taxes. 

We mentioned in the previous section some important documents that you are going to want to have when you hire your own caregiver, but there are some essential steps you should take in order to fully be aware of your legal obligations as an employer. A number of things to consider:

  • Social security contributions, federal unemployment tax, state unemployment tax and state workmen’s compensation contributions are the responsibility of the employer
  • Review employment regulations by contacting the Social Security office or the IRS office
  • Seek advice from an account and/or lawyer to better understand the above requirements

In addition to payment responsibilities, you will also need to consider talking to your insurance company, as you will need to inquire about extra costs for having a household employee. This is particularly crucial as you are going to want to be covered in case the caregiver is injured on the job.

Managing Your Caregiver

Now that you have considered the important aspects of hiring your new caregiver, now you must be ready to effectively manage them. Depending on the type of person you are, this can be seen as challenging or relatively easy. If you are comfortable with open communication and providing valuable, on the job feedback for your caregiver in order to ensure they are doing a proper job then you will not have much trouble managing the day-to-day performance of your caregiver. 

That being said, if you are not the type to bring forth feedback on your own, then you may find yourself unhappy with the results of your caregiver as any employee will need constructive feedback to do the job properly, especially for a caregiver who has very specific needs to attend to. 

Regardless of your comfort level with communication, you are going to need to develop a feedback system that is easily understood by both you and your caregiver. It is best to decide how your caregiver is most easily contacted; whether it's via phone call, text message, email or a face-to-face meeting. Establishing a strong platform of communication is essential before you are even ready to start providing them with feedback, or them to be able to communicate any issues they have on the job.

A number of specific details you should be monitoring are as follows:

  • Is the day’s work being done to completion?
  • Does the worker keep within the budget of spending (if one was discussed)?
  • Are there any complaints regarding worker attitude or quality of care from your loved one?
  • Do you notice any items missing from the household?
  • Is the caregiver arriving/leaving on-time?
  • Do you feel the caregiver is giving you all vital information pertaining to your loved one?

Communication between you and your caregiver is not just one way. You also need to ensure you are properly communicating ongoing updates and changes so that your hired caregiver is on the same page as you and your loved one. A few details you should be communicating to your caregiver are:

  • Provide an emergency contact and update the caregiver on where they can contact you if they need immediate assistance.
  • Keep caregivers up-to-date on any doctor’s appointments and updates with medication or condition.
  • Any other change in behavior or routine for your loved one.

Along with managing the day-to-day performance of your caregiver, another aspect of managing is having a back-up plan for if the caregiver needs to be absent from work for sick days, vacation or family emergencies. If you are managing your own caregiver you are in charge of having a replacement ready.

A common part of managing and employee is one you hope to not have to deal with, as it comes when you find that the caregiver you hired is not able to adequately perform the tasks they were hired for. Even if you are actively communicating constructive feedback for the caregiver, there are times when you must decide if the caregiver is not able to provide the level of care you require. This will force you back to your initial stage of hiring a new caregiver.

Finding the Perfect Fit

Earlier in the article we discussed the complicated hiring process that is involved when you are doing it yourself, as there are important details to remember in terms of qualifications and legalities. One aspect of the process that is deserving of its own mention is the importance of finding that perfect match for you or your loved one in a caregiver.

Your caregiver is someone you are going to be interacting with on a regular basis and because of the sensitive tasks they are responsible for, there is a great deal of trust and respect that needs to be present on both sides. While this can be achieved if you decide to hire your own caregiver, it requires extra care and attention during your interview and hiring process to not only match based on best qualified, but best personality match for your loved one. 

When it comes to finding your loved one the perfect caregiver you will have deep understanding of their specific needs, and you can use this knowledge to find the best fit overall for your loved one.

Protecting Yourself and Your Loved One

It should come to no surprise that with hiring your own caregiver, there are a variety of risks that you will need to be aware of throughout the entire process. There is no way to completely avoid certain issues from happening, but you can still be prepared for them.

We mentioned in a previous section the importance of communicating with your insurance agent so that they can provide you with all the information you should have when you are hiring your own employee to work inside your home. 

The most common issue you are going to be looking to have covered is if your caregiver is injured on the job, you don’t want to both be responsible for paying the damages and also be left without a caregiver. What we don’t generally consider when thinking of insurance is theft. It is not uncommon for theft to happen on a job.  Even though you went through a strict hiring process to determine the best candidate, this is simply one aspect of insurance that is better to be covered for - rather than be left to find a new caregiver and replace stolen items or money yourself.

This is why letting your current insurance provider aware of the new arrangement is critical, as they are going to give you new information and coverage options that otherwise aren’t present in typical home insurance.

Is Hiring and Managing Your Own Caregiver Right for You?

The decision of whether or not to hire your own caregiver or not comes down to if you want to have more choice and control over your caregiver. It requires extra effort and time dedication to ensure you hire the best caregiver for the job, and one that can reliably perform the tasks required to assist your loved on.

It is also important to consider how much free time you have outside of a current work schedule or other commitments. Even though you may enjoy the extra control of the caregiver process, it may not be worth it if you are causing yourself added stress by trying to manage it all yourself.

At the end of the day the goal is to provide exceptional care for your loved one so that they are able to remain independent and safe at home, while improving their quality of life as much as possible.