7 Important Questions to Ask When Hiring an In-Home Caregiver

Woman with question marks trying to make a decision

By Alison Wood, Contributing Writer

The availability of in-home care means that older adults can remain living at home longer than without that option. In-home care has a number of benefits, but perhaps the most important one is that the person can remain in an environment they know and love.

However, when it comes to hiring an in-home caregiver, there are a number of factors to consider. Inviting a caregiver into your home and essentially asking a stranger to care for a loved one definitely requires a level of trust. Therefore, you will feel much more reassured if you know the right questions to ask. Here are some key questions you’ll want to be sure to ask before moving forward with any in-home care.

Is the caregiver insured and bonded?

It’s vital that anyone you work with is insured and bonded. This means that when a caregiver is present, should any damage to property or theft occur, the bond will financially cover the situation. Typically, agencies have taken on the expense of insurance, but this often isn’t the case when working with a private caregiver. So it’s essential to ask about insurance, so that you don’t find yourself financially liable for the mistakes of your caregiver.

What’s the caregiver’s availability?

We all know that life doesn’t always run smoothly, and you might find yourself needing in-home care support on very short notice. It’s important to know if flexibility and receiving emergency care will be an issue.

When asking this, you’ll probably learn that, in general, an agency is much better equipped to handle short-notice calls for care, as they have a larger “pool” of employees to draw upon.

What happens if the caregiver is ill or has an emergency?

Equally, you’ll want to ask what will happen if an assigned caregiver cannot meet their obligations. Again, life happens: People get sick, cars break down, and emergencies happen in everyone’s lives, including those of caregivers. Do they have emergency backup or are you the client going to be left high and dry with no cover? It’s crucial to know ahead of time what would happen in such situations.

As with short-notice situations, agencies most likely will deal better with providing a replacement for a caregiver who can’t show up, due to their additional caregiving staff. Private caregivers rarely have backup caregivers available in such cases.

It’s important to remember that caregivers need breaks, too. If your caregiver needs time off, again at short notice, who would replace him or her? That’s important to know before the situation arises.

With this in mind, caregivers from Care & Comfort at Home are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If your loved one’s caregiver is suddenly unavailable, we strive to send a replacement as soon as possible!

Is the caregiver given a criminal background check?

If you are working with an agency, ask whether the employees are screened nationwide for a clean criminal record. If you are working with a private caregiver, then you will need to run this check. When someone is caring for your loved one, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Does the caregiver have a clean driving record and are any vehicles used insured?

If the duties of the caregiver extend to driving your loved one around town and to various appointments, you’ll want to know that they are licensed and have a clean driving record. You’ll also want to make sure that any vehicles used are fully insured. You want to protect your loved one in this way as much as you can.

Of course, accidents can happen even to the best of drivers. Should an accident occur, you don’t want to be left with any liability for any parties involved.

You’ll be happy to know that at Care & Comfort at Home all of our Caregivers are thoroughly screened nationwide for a clean criminal and driving record.

Does the caregiver have any special training?

Caregiving is a skilled occupation. Some caregivers have additional training in areas such as memory care, dementia, and nutrition. These specialities might be very important for your loved one, ensuring that your loved one receives the best care possible.

If your family member has a special care need, you’ll want to ask what experience the caregiver has of working with a particular illness or disability. At Care & Comfort at Home, our employees have specialized training in memory care, Alzheimer’s care, hospice, and special diet planning.

What are the terms of working together?

Last but not least, it’s best to have a clear understanding of the terms. For example, is any deposit required? Is there a minimum contract term or a notice period? If you know the answers to these questions upfront, there won’t be any nasty surprises further down the line.

Many private caregivers don’t have any sort of agreement, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. What that means is that you have nothing in writing to explain what you’ll really receive in terms of services. It places your loved one, as the client, on a very weak legal foundation.

Unlike some other agencies, Care & Comfort at Home has terms that are easy to understand, There are no deposits. You pay only for the services you actually receive. You can stop services at any time.

We can help!

If you are looking for in-home caregiving support for a loved one, we at Care & Comfort at Home are always happy to have a FREE no-obligation consultation with you, to discuss your loved one’s needs and answer any questions you might have about our caregivers and the in-home care services we provide for Chicagoland and the Denver area.

When it comes to choosing a caregiver, the more knowledge you have, the better. Knowing the answers to the questions outlined above will ensure you make the best choice of in-home caregiver for your loved one.