OpenPlacement Blog

Need In Home Care for a Senior? 10 Tips to Find the Right Caregiver

In Home CareIn home care for a senior is something many of us will have to contemplate either for ourselves a friend or a loved one. We have all seen news stories that tell the horrible things that can happen to the elderly when an unkind or greedy caregiver is hired. It’s enough to make you want to lock the front door and never let your loved one out of your sight. Fortunately, those instances are by far the extreme and not the norm. However, you undoubtedly want to ensure that your loved one gets the best in home care possible.

Here are 10 tips for finding the right in home caregiver:

1)    Experience – Not all caregivers have the same number of years under their belt, level of training, or expertise. Ask your doctor what specific issues your loved one is struggling with so that you can hire a caregiver that is qualified to address those needs. For example, if the patient is a diabetic, you should hire a caregiver familiar with the signs, diagnosis, and treatment of this illness. If your loved one has severe abscesses, hiring an LVN who is experienced in wound care would be to your advantage.

2)    Compatibility – Personality matters when you are looking for a long term care giver for you or your loved one. After all, there’s not much privacy or personal space when someone is tending to your medical needs. If your loved one prefers quite and is shy, a loud, boisterous health care worker may be the most dreaded part of the day. If your parent is shy, consider choosing a caregiver of the same gender.

3)    Communication – The best nurses know how to listen to a patient’s concerns and communicate how to address those medical issues in understandable terms. Does the caregiver take the time to stop and assess the patient or does she just barrel through the procedures? Is she eager to get on to the next task, or does she treat your loved one like a valued individual?

4)    Compassion – For many patients, the pain of loneliness is just as acute as what may be ailing their bodies. While caregivers obviously tend to a patient’s physical needs, the other portion of their job is to attend to the mental well-being of their patients. Does your potential caregiver sit and listen to a few stories, make eye contact, and take the time to know who your loved one is?

5)    Medical Care Plus – For your in home caregiver, are there other tasks that they will be required to perform such as housekeeping, cooking, or taking your loved one to doctor’s appointments? Make a list of exactly what you are looking for so you can ask your interviewees their abilities on mandatory duties you wish them to fulfill.

6)    Background Checks – Ask those who you interview to come with their social security card and driver’s license so you can check to see if they have a criminal record and to ensure that the person who arrives is really who they say they are. You will also want to call a list of references to measure past performance, trustworthiness, and competence. (You will also need to get permission from the caregiver to do a background check and/or credit check.)

7)    The Interview – Here are a few items you should discuss:

  1. Where did you get trained? What past experiences have you had? Do you have any specialized training?

  2. What did you like or dislike about previous caregiver jobs?

  3. Why did you choose to be a caregiver?

  4. Are you willing to perform the following duties: ____? (See #5)

  5. My loved one has this specific issue (arthritis, dementia, diabetes, etc.). How would you help him/her with this condition on a daily basis?

  6. Here are the wages and benefits I am offering. You will/will not get holidays off and holiday pay. Do you have any questions or concerns?

  7. Most importantly, trust your inner voice. You need to have peace of mind and if you don’t, then you will always be uncomfortable and worried.

8)    In Home Care Agencies – Does the interview and background check seem too time-consuming or daunting to you? You may want to look into an in home care agency. Not only do they coordinate placement for caregivers, but if a caregiver is sick or unable to attend work that day, a substitute can be sent over. is an excellent website that can give you a list of these in home care agencies within your area. This site also has a wealth of information on how to modify your home for safety, where to find specialized care for Alzheimer’s patients, and they even have a shopping page where you can order medical products to make living at home a bit easier for you or your loved one.

9)    Cheat Sheet – Once you’ve hired that special person, provide him or her with a cheat sheet spelling out important notes such as a meal timeline, a list of medications prescribed, where to find extra clothing or linens, allergies to look out for, or a list of emergency numbers including yours and the patient’s doctor.

10) Plan for Success – Once you’ve hired your caregiver, plan informal check-in meetings to air any difficulties the caregiver or you are facing. The longer a problem goes unaddressed, the bigger it grows. Secondly, show your gratitude. An employee usually does a better job when they know they are appreciated.

Please let us know if we missed anything or if you have something else to add in the comments section below.