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Best Practices for Vetting Home Helpers

Many caregivers juggle full-time jobs, a spouse, and children. Caregiving sometimes becomes one responsibility too many, and when family and friends can’t lend a hand, the caregiver has to make hard decisions regarding living arrangements for her senior. Home helpers can allow a senior who needs supervision and/or assist with daily chores to age in place while easing the load on caregivers. But you don’t want to trust your loved one to just anyone, so you must vet the potential aides. We’ll look at three different methods of finding and/or vetting helpers for your senior.

Tried and True Home Helpers

If you already have a trusted housekeeper and your senior doesn’t require skilled help, ask your housekeeper to take on more hours or days. He or she can ensure your senior is eating properly and taking medication according to schedule and can provide companionship. Your loved one is already familiar with this person, and it’s a nonthreatening way to introduce the idea of additional help to your senior.

Next Best Solutions for Finding Help

Word-of-mouth referrals from trusted friends and family members run a close second. Chances are you’ve met this person. Still, you’ll need to vet them to some degree. The AARP says to mine faith communities or senior community centers for trusted referrals. Trust is key here; you need referrals from trusted sources who trust the people they refer.

Work Through an Agency

Another option is the established, reputable staffing agency. The Administration on Aging warns, “Although most states require that home health care agencies perform criminal background checks on their workers and carefully screen job applicants for these positions, the actual regulations will vary depending on where you live.” They recommend calling your local public health department or local agency on aging to find out what laws apply.

How to Vet Your Home Helper

The simplest method is to hire an agency to run a thorough background check for you. If you do it yourself, start by reviewing the process at the Family Caregiver Alliance to find out more about each of their tips below:

  • Contact informal sources — the friend of a friend who first referred you, etc.
  • Request three references, two of which should be former employers.
  • Meet the applicant with your senior. Schedule the interview at a coffee shop near your home. Notice whether the applicant shows interest in and engages your senior.
  • Ask to see ID. Write down the driver’s license number to determine the applicant’s driving record if your helper will be transporting your senior.
  • Check on any license claims with the licensing authority.
  • Secure a waiver of confidentiality from the applicant.
  • Run the applicant through online criminal and credit databases.

You have to know the person who’s charged with your loved one’s care. Once you find the right person(s), hang on tight and don’t let them go. Trustworthy and caring home helpers are worth their weight in gold. Treat them accordingly, and you and your loved one will reap the rewards.

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