We know that choosing the best home care provider can be confusing, emotional and difficult, because it raises so many questions and concerns.  Here are some general tips to help you find the most appropriate care.

Start the process while your loved one is in the hospital.

During a hospital stay, we can become consumed by daily medical issues and test results.  Often, families say that “it’s too early” to think about what the needs will be when you/your loved one comes home.  But the inability to walk, for example, is not a criterion for being able to stay in the hospital. If your instincts tell you that some amount of home care is going to be needed upon discharge, you should start interviewing agencies and caregivers immediately. It is a good idea to have the selected caregiver visit the hospital to see if he/she if compatible with you/your loved one

Trust your first instinct.

If you are not 100% comfortable with the caregiver during the interview process, your initial perception is probably correct. There are many, many home care workers – there’s no need to settle for “an almost good fit” when someone’s well-being is at stake.

Use all of your resources to help make the right decision.

There are many agencies that can be used to answer questions.  Agencies have geriatric care managers that can walk a family through the entire process. They identify care needs by doing an in-person assessment, either in the hospital or at the home, and can help find the best match in caregivers for you/your loved one.

Be clear about your expectations.

Try to keep the relationship with caregivers professional. Remember that the right caregiver will be compassionate and understanding. It is fine to become fond of the caregiver, but it is wise to maintain limits. Be crystal clear from the outset about the rate of pay, schedule, and holiday arrangements. Discuss all the job responsibilities and tasks. This is a working partnership, so both parties must be able to voice comments, recommendations and even complaints to one another. The goal is to provide the highest possible level of quality care.

Age “with” your loved one.

You know your loved one better than anyone. Provide the caregiver with useful information on how they can spend their time together (card playing, puzzle making, letter writing, etc.). This way, they will form a closer bond.

Don’t relinquish control to the caregiver.

Sometimes, families become infatuated with one specific caregiver, and entrust too many important duties or decisions to him/her. For example, you might let him/her make the care schedule and bring in other caregivers to cover for him/her. Families are advised to always work with the agency to maintain an open dialogue, so that no party is left out of the care plan.

Don’t empower the caregiver to handle important communication.

Don’t empower the caregiver to handle important communications with doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc., on behalf of you/your loved one. With the convenience of cell phones, family members should always be kept in the loop when important decisions are made.

Keep the lines of communication open.

Do not be afraid to make a change if you feel any friction; the caregivers are working for you. Agencies must be flexible and readjust a plan based on recommendations from family members.  The best caregivers are able to address a situation honestly, without becoming defensive.

Don’t share financial information with caregivers.

Don’t share financial information with caregivers, and vice versa. Families need to keep personal finances confidential, and so do caregivers.  Require that they provide receipts for money spent on your behalf.

Use your caregiver as a resource.

They are professionally trained to help you/your loved one enjoy pleasant, meaningful days. If you have a question, problem or request, just ask.