Best Tips for Finding a Caregiver


Hiring a caregiver for a loved one who is unable to take care of him/herself is an important decision. Making the right choice can simplify your life, while improving theirs. Over time the responsibility of caring for a loved one can become stressful. So too, however, can putting their safety and health in the hands of someone you do not know.

The benefits of having a quality caregiver are plentiful, but feeling comfortable making such a decision requires research and preparation. How do you know which caregiver to choose?

A proper caregiver needs to be professional while also personable. They also need to be well trained, dedicated and patient. You and other family members involved in the decision-making process must also be aware of scheduling and financial requirements. Read on to learn six of the best tips for finding a qualified caregiver and how to make the best decisions for all involved. 

Top Tips to Consider When Finding a Caregiver

Knowing what to look for in a caregiver is crucial to finding the best match for your loved one and family. It is also crucial to understand the specific needs of your loved one. Does he or she need help with basic, daily living or with more detailed, medical issues? We prepared the following top six tips to consider when finding a caregiver for your loved one: 

  1. Preparing a detailed job description for potential caregivers
  2. Understand your financial means
  3. Include other loved ones in caregiver decisions
  4. Agency vs. private caregiver – which is better?
  5. Understand your home care needs
  6. Conduct thorough background checks


1. Preparing a Job Description

To ensure the best care for your loved one it is best to start by preparing a detailed job description for potential caregivers to consider. Many elderly loved ones need assistance getting to medical appointments and other important locations. Will there be driving involved? Sometimes a client needs assistance getting safely up and down steps. There could also be lifting, cooking and personal cleanup involved.

The job description should also detail wages and method of payment. A contracted payment schedule is a great idea providing comfort and security for both parties. Specific levels of required medical training need to be included so the caregiver knows if he or she is qualified for the job before accepting it. Finally, also include expectations regarding smoking, language, dress codes and general behavior.

2. Understanding Your Financial Means 

The cost of caregiving can sometimes be absorbed by insurance coverage. A caregiver agency likely has an intake coordinator who can assist with coverage options. Medicaid and Medicare both offer caregiving assistance pending eligibility. There is also state-run nursing home diversion programs designed to prolong the need for entry into assistant living facilities. Out of pocket expenses for home caregiving can be expensive when not covered by insurance. Knowing how much will be owed, at what intervals and how it will be paid for is crucial to making the best decisions. 


3. Including Other Loved Ones In Caregiver Decisions 

Sometimes the financial burdens of out of pocket caregiving expenses can be shared by family members involved in the decision to hire a caregiver. Discussing a caregiving plan with them is a respectful approach financially as well as personally. Family members often wan to be part of major decisions regarding loved ones and even help with the caregiver vetting process.

It is also important to include the loved one needing care in the decision-making process. Normal expectations of a caregiver including having compassion, empathy and understanding of your loved one’s feelings and needs. Your loved one likely expects the same from you. Involving them in the caregiver decision process from the start shows you are sincere about their needs and what is best for the overall situation. Further, asking your loved one to help choose his or her caregiver results in a greater sense of comfort and control in their lives.

4. Agency vs. Private Caregiver – Which Is Better?

The decision to hire either an agency-assigned or private caregiver can be impacted by a multitude of variables. A major difference between the two is the amount of work required of you regarding background checks, organization of services and payment structures. For example, most agencies only employ caregivers with clean records. When hiring one privately the background check becomes your responsibility.

Liability is another element to consider, and not just pursuant to injury. Agencies handle accusations of sexual or physical misconduct on the part of your love one or their employee. They also handle wages, taxes and adequate compensation for overtime services. When hiring a private caregiver, all those elements must be organized and accurately handled by you and/or your family.

Hiring a private caregiver has its benefits. Private fees are usually lower than agency fees. There can also be more scheduling flexibility with a private caregiver. Whether you choose an agency-assigned or private caregiver, setting up appointments to monitor quality of care and make certain the needs and security of both sides are met can be vital to assuring your loved one gets the best and safest care possible.

5. Understanding Your Home Care Needs 

Understanding your home care needs is part of preparing an accurate job description as described above. It is also part of determining which caregiving provider is best for your situation. Further, having a thorough knowledge of your home care needs helps caregiver agencies know which employee is most suitable to be assigned to your loved one. 

Does your loved one require transportation to various appointments? Are they capable of getting in and out of a vehicle without assistance? Answering questions such as those helps all parties involved understand the needs of the situation. Other home care needs to evaluate can include:

  • Assistance with taking medications
  • Assistance with bathing
  • Meal preparation
  • Help with getting dressed


6. Conduct Thorough Background Checks

The safety of your loved one is paramount to him or her receiving safe, high quality care. A caregiver must be able to pass a criminal background check to be allowed in your home. They and/or their agency should not present any resistance to a request for a background check. It is your right to know who is coming into your home or the home of your loved one.

If your request is rejected or the background check is not available, move on to the next option in consideration.

Most states require agencies to run background checks on potential employees before hiring them. It is best to request proof this has been done. When hiring caregiving services privately, administering background checks become your direct responsibility. There are numerous services available to help, including: