What is the best way to find a good in-home caregiver for my elderly mother?
Finding a good in-home caregiver that’s dependable, likeable, trustworthy and affordable can be challenging to say the least. Here are some tips and resources that can help.
Know Your Needs
Before you start the task of looking for a caregiver, your first step is to determine the level of care your mom needs (see NCLneedsassessment.org for a checklist). If, for example, she only needs help with activities of daily living like preparing meals, doing laundry, bathing or dressing, a “homemaker” or “personal care aide” will do.
But, if she needs health care services, there are “home health aides” that may do all the things a homemaker does, plus they also have training in administering medications, changing wound dressings and other medically related duties. Home health aides often work under a nurse’s supervision.
Once you settle on a level of care, you then need to decide how many hours of assistance she’ll need. For example, does you mom need someone to come in just a few mornings a week to help her cook, clean, run errands or perhaps bathe? Or does she need more continuous care that requires daily visits or a full time aide?
After you determine her needs, there are two ways in which you can go about hiring someone. You may either hire through a home health agency or you can hire someone directly on your own.
Home Health Agencies
Hiring a certified home health agency to supply and manage your mom’s care is the easiest but most expensive option of the two. Costs run anywhere from $12 up to $40 an hour depending on where you live and the qualifications of the aide. This is also usually a better way to go if you mom requires a lot of in home health care.
How does it work ? You pay the agency and they handle everything including an assessment of your mon’s needs, assigning appropriately trained and pre screened staff to care for her, and finding a fill in on days her aide cannot come.
Some of the drawbacks, however, are that you many not have much input into the selection of the caregiver and the caregivers may change or alternate, which can cause a disruption in care and con fusion.
You also need to know that while Medicare does cover some in-home health care services if it’s ordered by a doctor, they don’t cover homemaker services, nor will they cover personal care services, such as bathing and dressing, provided by a home health aide if that is the only care required. But, if your mom is low-income and qualifies for Medicaid, some services are covered.
To locate and compare Medicare-approved home health agencies visit www.medicare.gov/hhcompare or call 800-633-4227 and request a free copy of the “Medicare and Home Health Care” publication (#10969) that explains coverage and how to choose and agency.
Hiring an independent caregiver on your own is the other option and it’s less expensive. Costs typically range between $10 and $20 per hour. Hiring directly also gives you more control over who you hire so you can choose someone you feel is right for your mom.
But, be aware that if you do hire someone on your own, you become the employer. So there’s no agency support to fall back on if a problem occurs or if the aide doesn’t show up. You’re also responsible for paying payroll taxes and any worker-related injuries that may happen. If you choose this option make sure you check the aide’s references thoroughly and do a criminal background check.
To find someone, ask for referrals through friends, doctor’s offices or hospital discharge planners. Also, check online job boards, like craigslist.org, carelinx.com or carescout.com. Some states even offer registries (PHImatchingservicesmap.org) to help you locate good caregivers. For a fee, a geriatric care planner (caremanger.org) can help find someone.
Jim Miller, author of the “Savvy Senior” Book shared this article with the United Methodist Foundation, March 2013
ABOUT THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ELDER LAW ATTORNEYS
Established in 1987, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) was formed to enhance the quality of legal services available to the elderly and people with special needs in the United States. Members of NAELA are attorneys who have demonstrated experience and training in working with the legal problems of aging Americans and disabled individuals. http://www.naela.org.
ABOUT HARWELL & PLANT, ATTORNEYS.
Established in 1974, Harwell & Plant has a long history of service to client and community. Our attorneys and professional staff offer a wide range of legal services to citizens and businesses throughout southern Middle Tennessee. Paul Plant has been a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorney’s since 2003. Through NAELA, Mr. Plant and other Elder Law Attorney’s exchange ideas and other information important to senior citizens. His active involvement in NAELA has offered Mr. Plant quality assistance in his representation of the elderly and those with special needs.
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