If you’ve made the important decision that you or your loved one needs some help around the house, the next step is figuring out how to find a talented, dedicated and compassionate home health aide whose personality will mesh well with their patient’s.
For a number of reasons, we always advise potential clients and their families to hire a homecare aide through a home health agency or nurse registry. The first reason is that if the first caregiver you meet isn’t a great fit, or it doesn’t work out for some other reason, the homecare company you are working with can send you other options.
The second reason is that a homecare agency or home nurse registry will screen all the caregivers they work with, ensuring that they have extensive background checks, are fully credentialed, and are up to date on all their certifications. In Florida, the homecare company is not allowed to send caregivers to clients’ homes without checking references. In the state of Florida, home health aides should carry their own liability insurance, as well.
Regardless of whether a family hires a caregiver directly or works with an agency or registry to find an aide to care for their senior loved one, there are several considerations they should keep in mind:
Patient Needs: Paraphrasing the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland, you can only figure out the best fitting caregiver if you have an honest and complete perspective on the client’s needs. What are the tasks that the nursing assistant is going to help with? How many hours are they available? Do they need to be able to lift their patient safely? Do they need to be familiar with any specialized medical equipment?
Experience with Specific Conditions: Does the patient have dementia or Alzheimer’s and if so, at what stage? Clients with these conditions – and others, such as Parkinson’s or diabetes – are best cared for by someone with directly relevant experience. Other, less frequently considered areas where experience can be helpful include dietary (kosher, vegetarian) or exercise routines.
Household Situation: Are there any pets that the caregiver might be allergic to or afraid of? Is the aide able to provide transportation to errands or appointments? Is the aide comfortable navigating around a community and helping their patient take advantage of the social and recreational activities available to them? Does the aide know of parks or other attractions nearby? Is the home set up to potentially have live-in help?
Professionalism: Are you comfortable that the individual you are hiring will come on time and remain attentive to your loved one during their shift? Are they able to communicate with both their patient and their family, so as best to raise any concerns about any changes to their client’s health?
Personality: While there is no perfect science for knowing whether two people will get along, elderly individuals being cared for may have a preference for a more extroverted aide who will engage them in conversation or a quieter caretaker who will let them read, watch TV or do the crossword while remaining more in the background. If there is resistance to bringing an aide into the home, it may be easier to go with someone who will wait for direction; if the need to ensure the aging loved one’s safety is well-understood by everyone, a more proactive aide who will make any necessary changes to the home environment may be more welcome.
Ultimately, hiring a caregiver is a bit of a match-making game, and neither the family nor a homecare company is going to get it right on the first try every time. However, knowing what you are looking for, setting a routine and giving it time to work are all key to raising the probability of success and allowing everyone to benefit from bringing an aide into a loved one’s home. If you need any help in finding this success, please reach out to one of our care specialists for guidance.