Regardless of their age, most seniors prefer to remain in their home. But, depending upon their health and mobility, that may not be possible without some assistance. Fortunately, there are numerous home care options that make staying in the home a viable alternative.
How Do You Find The Best Home Care Option?
Determining you or your loved one’s needs is the first step. What do you need help with? For example, maybe it’s personal care tasks such as bathing and dressing or home care chores like cooking and cleaning. Perhaps you need rides to appointments and social activities or even more extensive companion care. Making a list will help you identify your specific needs making it much easier to find the right caregiver.
How Do You Find The Right Caregiver? Hiring a caregiver falls into one of three categories:
- Hiring a caregiver directly
- Family, friends and neighbors
- Working through an agency
What’s the best option?
Hiring a caregiver yourself is a lengthy process. It requires you to identify potential caregivers, interview each one, check references and ultimately hire the right person. Plus, it’s essential during the hiring process to determine whether the care provider knows how to safely care for your loved one. For example, if your family member needs to be transferred from a bed into a wheelchair or wheelchair into a car, you need to be sure that the caregiver knows how to do this safely.
In addition, hiring an employee comes with additional responsibilities such as:
- Withholding and reporting income taxes – just like a big company, withholding and reporting on income taxes are part of the employer’s responsibilities
- Paying Social Security taxes – if you aren’t a payroll expert this can become complex and burdensome
- Worker’s Compensation – if the caregiver is injured while working, you may be liable for their medical bills
- Discipling or terminating – if you are dissatisfied with their work
- Finding a replacement – if your caregiver doesn’t show up, quits or you terminate them for other reasons
Family, Friends & Neighbors
Supportive family, friends and neighbors may be a viable care option. If it’s only a few hours each week for each person, you may be able to satisfy your loved one’s list of needs. Plus, if they are unpaid you won’t have to worry about payroll, social security and other taxes but insurance is still a must.
Managing numerous caregivers can be an organizational challenge. What happens if there’s an illness or conflict that prevents the person from fulfilling their time slot? Who pinch hits?
In addition, more stressful functions like bathing, lifting and transporting may not be realistic for family members to handle. Where more basic needs such as cooking, cleaning and shopping may work.
A Home Care Agency
A reputable home care agency eliminates many issues that come from hiring your own caregiver or having friends and family step in. For example,
- Screening applicants – the agency interviews, checks references and conducts background checks
- Train employees – good agencies provide on-going communication and training to ensure quality care
- Manage employees – they make sure the caregiver remains a good fit and makes changes when necessary
- Back-up caregivers – In the event of an illness or if the caregiver chooses to leave the assignment, they provide back up caregivers
- Payroll, Social Security and Worker’s Compensation – The agency handles all payroll and related issues
Agency employees are supervised, evaluated and monitored to ensure they are operating effectively and meeting client needs.
Compare Apple’s And Apple’s
When evaluating your options, compare the costs for each alternative. The agency hourly cost includes insurance, payroll, taxes, training, back up caregivers, and more. The hourly cost of employing your own caregiver does not. So, just comparing hourly costs, doesn’t provide an accurate cost comparison.
Home care allows seniors to stay in their home and often enriches their life vs. other forms of care. Agencies and hiring your own caregiver are two viable options. Detailing the actual costs and determining the amount of responsibilities you are willing to assume will help you arrive at the best solution.