Know your employment responsibilities when hiring an in-home caregiver. 

More and more families have turned to in-home caregivers to help them give their elderly loved ones the attention and care they need. Already the fastest-growing sector of the domestic employment market, the demand for homecare providers is only expected to increase as our population continues to age.

One of the risks of an in-demand job sector is a flood of unqualified candidates applying for positions. This is certainly true of caregiving, which has an extremely high turnover rate because of the large number of under-skilled hires. If you’re in the market for an in-home care provider, there are certain steps you can take to make sure you find a qualified caregiver.

What to look for in an at-home care provider

Whether you work with an agency or hire directly, you will need to determine the skills, responsibilities and qualifications required of your caregiver. For instance, in addition to providing care, do you need an individual to help maintain your loved one’s home, including cleaning and doing laundry? Will the caregiver be required to lift 50 pounds or more as part of their daily responsibilities? Does the care provider need to be willing and capable of distributing medications to your loved one? How many hours per day or week does your loved one require care?

Once you have outlined your needs, you can begin the search for a qualified candidate. A detailed job description will help both you and potential providers determine whether they are a good fit for your family. Some things to consider when reviewing candidates include:

  • Experience: How long has this individual been providing care? Do they have any credentials, such as first aid or CPR training, or a professional nursing degree? Can they provide you with references?
  • Personality: Will this individual get along with your loved one? Do they have the personality traits you are looking for in a care provider? How would they handle a medical or other emergency?
  • Additional needs or specialized skills: Is the caregiver qualified and willing to complete all aspects of the job? If needed, do they have a valid license and vehicle they are willing to use on the job? If your loved one suffers from a chronic condition, is the candidate familiar and comfortable with the needs of this health issue?

Carefully considering your needs and fully screening candidates greatly increase the odds that you and your loved one will be happy with your hire.

Responsibilities of an employer

When hiring a caregiver, you will also need to determine whether the provider is legally considered a contractor or an employee. The IRS has clear guidelines on what constitutes each employment category, and if you hire directly, it is recommended that you check the Agency’s website to see which category applies to your situation.

Most individuals will find that the government considers them the caregiver’s employer. This means you are responsible for everything from payroll deductions to maintaining their work schedule. It also means that you will need to determine how the caregiver will pay for any expenses incurred while caring for your loved one, such as the cost for purchasing cleaning supplies or meals, picking up prescriptions or mileage to run errands.

Several payment options exist, from an employee credit card to reimbursements. Whichever route you choose, having a process and payment schedule in place at the beginning of the business relationship will help avoid any issues or misunderstandings down the line.

Additionally, you may want to consider, or may be required to, carry a workers’ compensation policy for the caregiver. By providing this insurance, you protect your employee by replacing a percentage of lost wages due to an injury sustained on the job, and you protect yourself from being sued by a caregiver who has been injured in the workplace.

While the process of hiring a caregiver takes time and patience, when done properly, it can give you and your loved one peace of mind. And that’s something you can’t put a price on.