Choosing a Caregiver

MAY 23, 1994 VOLUME 1, NUMBER 26

By Joan Ardern, Community Liaison, Care Coordinators, Inc.

(First of three parts)

As the American population ages the need for more caregivers becomes magnified. Today, many families are living in the so-called “sandwich generation,” where the day to day stress of caring for an elderly or disabled loved one can create family chaos. Health care changes and complicated insurance forms can add to the burden, not to mention the added responsibility of finding a reliable caregiver.

From observing case managers at Care Coordinators, Inc., I know that hiring a caregiver is a matter not to be taken lightly.

Home Health Agencies

One of the easiest ways to hire a caregiver is through a home health agency. You can find these agencies in the telephone book. Here are some questions to be asked in a phone interview:

  • Is the agency licensed by the state of Arizona?
  • Is the agency bonded? (Most agencies are)
  • Is the agency Medicare certified?
  • What is the hourly cost for a caregiver? A Registered Nurse?
  • Is there a minimum charge per visit? (Some agencies have a two or three hour minimum)
  • Can the agency provide emergency substitution if, for example, the caregiver is unable to work?

Will the agency perform an assessment of the patient to determine the required level of care and identify medical issues? Is there a charge for this assessment?

Private Caregivers

The problems become more difficult when hiring a caregiver privately. Often the family member is facing a crisis, needing a caregiver immediately, and may be tempted to hire someone in haste. This brings up a key point. Despite the urgency, don’t rush the process to find the right caregiver. Request that applicants provide a resume along with copies of the following documents:

  • Proof of citizenship
  • Proof of social security
  • Proof of auto insurance and driver’s license
  • List of references

It may also be a good idea to conduct a background check if you are hiring someone privately. There are reliable firms that, at reasonable costs, will perform background investigations for you. There are a couple of advantages to a security check. First of all, you will eliminate the unreliable individuals and, second, the background check will verify the good choices.
About Joan Ardern

Joan Ardern, the guest contributor responsible for this three-part series on “Choosing a Caregiver,” is Community Liaison for Care Coordinators, Inc. Joan is also current President of Arizona Continuity of Care, and Co-chair of the Academy for Health Services Marketing, Tucson Chapter. Joan is also active with the Tucson YWCA Board of Directors and serves as co-facilitator for an Alzheimer’s support group.

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