Seniors & Aging: How to screen your parent’s caregiver

When placing the care of your mother or father in the hands of a hired caregiver, ensuring the caregiver is responsible, honest, competent and a good fit for the task at hand is paramount. Here are a few tips to help you find the right caregiver. You can get a more detailed caregiver hiring checklist here.

1.       Understand your Parent’s Needs

Not all caregivers have the same expertise. To find the right fit, the first thing you have to understand are your parent’s needs. Do they need help with toileting, companionship, dressing, bed transfer, alzheimer’s care, wound care, cooking, etc. While some caregivers may be comfortable helping with toileting and dressing, they may not have the experience or personality to deal with Alzheimer’s care.

2.       Appropriate Expertise

When searching for candidates, make sure they have experience caring for the elderly, providing care in your parent’s areas of need and have the proper credentials e.g. nurse’s aide, nursing assistant, or nurse.

3.       Conduct an In-Person Interview

You might want to have your first interview with the candidate alone, sparing your mother or father the anxiety of dealing with potentially unqualified candidates. That said, you will want to involve your parent in follow-up interviews to ensure they’re comfortable with the hire and feel good about that person coming into their home.

In the interview, you’ll want to ask candidates about their experience working with the elderly, what they like about working with the elderly, how they would handle specific emergency situations (chokes, fires, loss of consciousness, aggression, verbal abuse, etc.), where they have experience working (homes, institutions, hospitals), are they smokers, comfortable with pets, have a criminal record, areas of expertise, tasks they do not do (cleaning, cooking, toileting), etc.

4.       Background Check

After passing the interview process, it’s important to verify that your candidate is warm, compassionate, honest, professional, on time and has the necessary qualifications. To do this, you will want to review and call at least 3 reference checks with former employers. You’ll want to ask for a government issued photo ID, with the caregiver’s name and current address – make a photocopy and keep it on hand. You can then use that information to perform a criminal background check. You’ll also want a copy of the caregiver’s educational certificate and license to ensure they have the requisite credentials. If they are going to be driving, you’re also going to want to verify with the SAAQ that their license is in good standing.

Conclusion

Screening your parent’s caregiver is only the beginning of your oversight role. Despite hiring a private caregiver, your role as family caregiver never really goes away. It’s important that you remain vigilant in watching over your parents even after you’ve hired a caregiver you initially felt comfortable with. To do so, call your parent often, visit frequently and show up un-announced so your hired caregiver can stage your mother or father for your visit. Look for signs of neglect, like your parent not being properly dressed, wearing soiled clothing, unbrushed hair, loss of weight, change in mood, change in behaviour, etc.

You may even want to consider putting in a digital cam, to let anyone who comes into your parent’s home know that they’re being monitored. If a caregiver is uncomfortable with a digital cam, explain that it is meant to protect both parties from misunderstandings and can also avoid false accusations against the caregiver. Regardless of the above, trust your gut and above all else, listen to your mother or father!

Marc Felgar is an aging and senior care expert and online entrepreneur from Montreal, QC. He is the founder of www.seniorsafetyreviews.com, which reviews products, technologies and resources to help people deal with the challenges of aging. 

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