Hiring an In-Home Caregiver? Buyer Beware

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On September 10, 2014, Posted by , In Home Care, By ,, , With Comments Off on Hiring an In-Home Caregiver? Buyer Beware

Do you know where your loved one’s professional caregiver has been?

Probably not—even more concerning, the home care agency that employs them may not know either.

According to recent research from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, even when family members go the ‘safe’ route and hire a caregiver from an agency, there is no guarantee that that person is qualified, or that an elderly loved one will be safe with them. In a university press release, Lee Lindquist, M.D., lead author of the study says, “People have a false sense of security when they hire a caregiver from an agency.”

Parental supervision (needs to be) required

By posing as would-be consumers and calling over 180 different in-home care agencies around the country, researchers were able to gain valuable (and surprising) insight into how these organizations screen and train their employees.

Of the in-home care agencies the researchers examined:

  • Two-thirds did not conduct regular drug tests on their caregivers.
  • A slight majority (55 percent) did federal background checks on their applicants. The rest either did state-level checks or didn’t investigate their prospective employees’ records at all.
  • Only one-third had tests in place to examine the expertise and skills of their caregivers while nearly 60 percent claimed that performance reports filled out by the employees themselves was their primary method of evaluation.
  • As many as 70 percent neglected to send supervisors out to seniors’ homes to check-up on their employees.

Other key findings of the study include: agencies that claimed to use non-existent screening tests (like the ‘National Scantron Test for Inappropriate Behavior’) to vet their candidates, and organizations that plucked prospective employees right off of Craigslist.

Part of the problem, according to the study authors, is that the in-home care industry is not as tightly regulated as it needs to be to avoid these kinds of dangerous inconsistencies in evaluation, training, and supervision.

How to keep your loved one safe

Professional, in-home caregivers are a great resource for seniors and their families. They can enable an elder to remain in their home when they would otherwise have to move to a long-term care facility. These outside hires can also be used to provide much-needed respite care for family caregivers.

Dependable in-home care agencies exist, but family members need to make sure they thoroughly research an agency and a caregiver candidate before hiring them. According to Lindquist, “There are good agencies out there, but there are plenty of bad ones and consumers need to be aware that they may not be getting the safe, qualified caregiver they expect.”

For now, much of the responsibility for making an informed choice about which agencies and professional caregivers to trust falls on the shoulders of a senior’s other family members.

Here are a few tips on what to look for, and what to avoid, when using an agency to find in-home healthcare for an elderly loved one:

  • Make sure that any agency you use conducts nation-wide background checks, and does regular drugs tests on their employees.
  • Inquire about the specific training of any home health worker you plan on hiring. If your loved one has specific health concerns (Alzheimer’s, diabetes, etc.) make sure that the caregiver has experience in those areas.
  • Ensure that the agency has a system in place to evaluate an employee’s performance. Including a way for seniors and their family members to lodge complaints or express concerns.
  • Find out what kind of continuing education programs an agency mandates for its caregivers. Ask how often a caregiver’s skills are formally tested and updated with the latest techniques.
  • Make sure that an agency won’t be sending a bunch of different caregivers to care for your loved one. Having a consistent, predictable schedule of in-home caregivers can help keep your loved one safe and comfortable.

Source: agingcare.com

Contact Pure Home Care Services at (586) 293-2457 today! If you live in Birmingham or the surrounding area, we can help you care for your loved ones.

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