If you’ve decided to hire in-home help over the busy holiday season, rest assured that you have made a great choice that will not only benefit yourself but your loved one as well. You need this time to shop for holiday gifts, prepare meals, arrange for traveling or get your home in order for out-of-town family. You also deserve this time to spend with your immediate family, something you may have neglected in recent months.

First, determine if you want to use a home care agency or an independent provider. Independent providers are typically less expensive, but home care agencies are easier to use and have strict screening processes when hiring caregivers. Additional benefits include having substitutes if the caregiver is sick or absent and specific avenues of recourse if something were to go wrong.

When you do find candidates that could be a good fit for your loved one, be sure to conduct an in-depth interview. You have every right to ask questions before entrusting the safety and health of your loved one to someone else. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The tasks, skills and schedules involved.
  • The cost of services and how payments are arranged.
  • Whether transportation or food is included.
  • What procedures are followed in the event of an emergency. What types of supervision are in place for the caregiver.
  • What training and experience the caregiver has.
  • What level of care the caregiver will offer: companion services, Personal Home Cares, homemaker services or skilled care.

Most people know the right caregiver when they meet them. They feel comfortable, at ease and confident that the individual will provide the right level of care. This is why it’s important to interview potential candidates early in the season so that you can find the best person without feeling pressured. Some families find ‘the one’ right away, but for others, it takes a bit of time.

Before the caregiver begins, create a checklist of things that your loved one likes/dislikes, and offer suggestions for handling difficult behaviors. You should also have backup plans if necessary; a home care agency has enough staff on hand to help with this. Just because a situation comes up does not mean that you shouldn’t take time for yourself.