Choosing an in-home caregiver for an elderly relative is an extremely important decision. In this situation, you are looking for so much more than a licensed professional; you want someone who will treat your loved one with the same respect and kindness as you would. The following is a listing of qualities to look for as you interview potential caregivers.
1) Personality – Personality is the single most important quality to look for in a caregiver, as all of the professional training in the world will not change an individual’s attitude. Ask questions that will help you get a sense of a person’s compassion, empathy, patience, and selflessness. Be wary if a candidate immediately approaches you with a list of items they will not do. With the exception of things that require medical expertise, a caregiver should be open to most assignments.
2) Experience – Another critical quality to look for in a caregiver is experience. This does not necessarily mean you should hire someone with the most experience overall, but rather a person who has experience handling needs similar to those of your loved one.
3) Training – Both formal and informal training can result in an excellent caregiver. However, if your loved one needs personal assistance, such as with dressing, bathing, and using the bathroom, you should seek someone who is a Certified Home Health Aid.
4) Honesty and Reliability – Never hire a caregiver without checking their references. From previous employers, you can get a good sense of the caregiver’s honesty and reliability. You want to verify that the caregiver will neither steal from your loved one’s home nor inaccurately portray the number of hours they have worked. You also want to check to be sure the caregiver is known for showing up on time, every time, unless prior arrangements have been made.
5) Accountability – Ask questions that will draw out the potential caregiver’s ability to accept personal responsibility for their actions. If you get a sense that they are quick to place the blame elsewhere when things go wrong and do not hold themselves accountable, trust your gut instinct and look elsewhere.
6) Finances – Unless you are hiring through a home healthcare agency, you should be prepared to discuss financial payment arrangements with your caregiver. Understand that it is only natural for the caregiver to ask for the pay rate they believe they are worth, and it does not necessarily mean they are in the field just for the money and not for the love of their work.