Archive for November, 2011

3 Ways To Hire A Caregiver

November 21, 2011

So you have finally decided that you or a loved one needs some additional help with those pesky Activities of Daily Living: eating, dressing, bathing, toileting, continence and transferring.  How do you go about the process of hiring a caregiver?  There are three ways:

1. Hire a caregiver directly.

2. Hire a caregiver through a registry.

3. Hire a home care agency to provide the caregiver.

Hire a caregiver directly:  This seems like the simplest and least expensive method.  In many ways it is.  You could run a classified advertisement in the local newspaper.  You could ask friends and neighbors for recommendations.  You could hire an eager for work college student.  You could then negotiate an hourly rate without the overhead burden of an agency.  It may work out well…or not.  If you hire a caregiver directly, you need to be aware of the risks.  You become the employer and the caregiver becomes your employee.  As the employer, you are responsible for withholding and then properly remitting all of the required taxes: Federal and state withholding, Social Security and Medicare, federal unemployment tax, local employment taxes, etc.  You must verify the legal residency status of your new employee.  What happens if your caregiver employee gets hurt?  Your personal liability could be enormous.  Who will train your employee in the safe (for both the caregiver and the person receiving care) way to lift someone?  How about when and when not to call 911?  What about those inevitable days that your caregiver employee doesn’t come to work for whatever reason?  Who will be your backup?  How will you conduct an effective background check?

Use a home care registry:  What is a home care registry?  Perhaps you never heard of it.  A registry has a list of caregivers who may be available when needed for a particular assignment.  Pay attention.  This is important.  Registry caregivers are  not W-2 employees of the registry…instead, they become employees of the families needing care.  Now you are faced with the same problems as with direct hiring.  One exception…and this varies with the specific registry, is that you may get a better-screened caregiver. 

Use a full-fledged home care agency:  I strongly believe this is your best option…provided you engage the services of a good agency.  First, the caregiver is an employee of the agency, not you.  You don’t have to worry about tax forms or the same level of personal liability as would be the case if you were the employer.  A good home care agency (not a registry) will provide supervision, training and backup.  You are also far more likely to have a solid care needs assessment included in the cost.  Because a home care agency is responsible for the actions of its employees, you can expect to have a caregiver who has been more thoroughly screened for both competency and any criminal history.

Bottom line:  A good home care agency will charge a higher hourly rate, but you will get more…more of what you really need in a highly stressful situation.  A few more points to think about: 1) Most modern long term care insurance policies cover the cost of home care provided by an agency.  2) How do you find a good home care agency (Metro-Denver had 235 home care agencies the last time I checked.)?  That will be the subject of another eNewsletter.  In the meantime, call me with your questions.  There are a few home care agencies that I am very comfortable recommending.  3) You should know that when my Mom got sick in 1999, I hired a home care agency to provide the needed 24/7 caregiving.  Looking back, it was the best decision I could have made.

Disclaimer: Actual policy language, rather than the contents of this eNewsletter always takes precedence.  Long term insurance policies vary from company to company & within the same company.  Raymond Smith, The Long Term Care Specialist, does not give legal or tax advice.  Consult your tax advisor or attorney for these matters.

© Raymond Smith, The Long Term Care Specialist, 2011