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When beginning to learn about in-home care services, many people ask me how to choose a caregiver. I have lots of thoughts on how to best choose a caregiver, so hope you have plenty of time! Just kidding - I am sure you are just as busy and your life just as hectic as mine - so I will be short and to the point and share with you what I have found to be the most important tips as you consider a provider of in-home care services.
It may surprise you that much of what I focus on here is the soft intangibles of personality. I can`t say enough how important these are! I hope that you will trust my experience as I have worked with many families across a wide variety of cultural, religious, and socio-economic lines to place great caregivers. Here are four helpful pointers that are important in all cases when choosing a caregiver for yourself or your loved one:
Choose A Caregiver #1: Technical Skills
Not surprisingly, in-home care services skills are an important factor in choosing a caregiver. But you might be surprised that technical skills only account for one of the four areas I`ll focus on today. After all, it`s a "yes" or "no" answer. Does the candidate caregiver possess the necessary skills for your unique situation?
One thing I`ve learned as the owner of a home care agency is that no two clients are alike and each has different needs. What specific skills do you require? Can the caregiver change an occupied bed? Does the caregiver have training and experience operating a hoyer lift or transferring a client from bed to wheelchair? Does the caregiver understand personal hygiene? Home care agencies can be very helpful in screening candidates and assessing such skills.
Under no circumstance would I recommend forgoing formal training; hire caregivers with a minimum of home health aide certification. Although hands-on experience is important, formal academic training provides a critical foundation for success.
Choose A Caregiver #2: Self-awareness
I can`t stress how important it is to know (and accept) the personality that works best for your loved one and any family members that will be involved when you choose a caregiver. Is your loved one talkative? Shy? Likes to laugh? Do they like things a certain way (regardless if it makes sense to you whether or not that lamp shade needs to be at the exact angle that they want)? Do they like to read or go for walks?
Whatever their traits are - good and bad - be aware of them and try to find a caregiver that will complement these. If mom is a neat freak, then find a caregiver that is just as particular and it will be a match made in heaven!
Choose A Caregiver #3: Put in the Time (and you thought dating was hard...)
If you are looking to hire a caregiver privately, be prepared to devote a lot of time in the beginning for the process to be successful. Finding the right caregiver can be a daunting task, and you will most likely need to interview a lot of candidates to identify one that you want to try out. Working with an agency can greatly reduce the time needed to identify quality caregivers, because an agency should have a team of diverse employees to match with each client`s unique requirements.
This might help give you an idea of the time commitment that is potentially necessary to find a good match - many home care agencies hire about 10-20% of all applicants that we interview (and a much lower percentage of all that apply). It`s a numbers game you have to interview and screen a lot of candidates to find the best!
Choose A Caregiver #4: Trust Your Gut
They say that first impressions matter - you make a decision on someone in five seconds. Well that holds just as true when choosing a caregiver. If your loved one isn`t getting along with the caregiver you`ve selected, or if your gut says "no," then trust that instinct. In the long run, forcing a relationship isn`t going to work and will make everyone - both loved one and caregiver - resentful and miserable. Pull the ripcord quickly at the beginning until you find that perfect match. It will be more work now, but will pay dividends in the long run!
Choosing a caregiver to provide you or your loved one with in-home care services can be a very daunting task. But remember to strive to match each patient with the best caregiver (or caregivers), based on both needs and personality.
This article was written by Tracy Ongena, the President and Founder of Alvita Care (http://www.alvitacare.com). Alvita Care is a geriatric care management and home care agency based in the heart of New York City. Contact Tracy for more information about homecare services and strategies in New York at email@example.com.