September 28, 2023

Finding the right home health aide for your loved ones is easy. If you have never done it before, do not worry–there are only a few things to keep in mind.

As our loved ones get older, the amount of care they need often surpasses our ability to provide. If you’re having trouble supporting a loved one, know that you’re not the only one.

In only the past five years, the United States has gained 9.5 million more family caregivers, owing to the 80 million Baby Boomers who are quickly approaching older adulthood.

Although those of us who care for these family members and friends do so because we love them, it is clear that caring for them takes a toll. In fact, one in every four family caregivers has seen their own health worsen as a result of their responsibilities.

The process of hiring a skilled home health aide involves several steps and can be confusing at times. This article covers everything in depth to help you navigate this process and find the ideal home health aide for your needs.

Non-Skilled vs. Skilled Home Health Aides

If this is your first time dealing with a loved one who needs in-home care, you should be aware that there are two types of care available: skilled and non-skilled (or custodial).

Non-skilled care covers a wide range of needs, from personal cleanliness to companionship, while specialized care is required when dealing with specific health issues.

Custodial Care

Custodial care is not considered medical, although it is often sought after by a physician’s recommendation. In custodial care, a home aide is solely responsible for requirements that impact a patient’s well-being but are not clearly medical. Personal, domestic, and emotional needs are often categorized as personal care, household care, and emotional care.

  • Personal care involves assistance with tasks such as washing, dressing, grooming, and reminding your loved ones to take their medicines.
  • Household care involves cooking, cleaning, yard upkeep, collecting mail, and making sure bills are paid on time.
  • Emotional care involves the less tangible elements of caring, such as general happiness. Over 88% of caregivers are responsible for offering emotional support to their patients or loved ones, according to research from the University of Alberta. Companionship and conversation from a home care provider may also help your loved one emotionally.

Skilled Care

Physical therapy, intravenous injections, wound care, drug administration, colostomy care, vital monitoring, and catheters are all examples of skilled care, which requires the hands of qualified and certified medical professionals.

If you or your family member require any of these services, make sure you choose an agency or an individual home health aide with the necessary qualifications. You may also expect to pay a higher hourly rate.

With the help of medical equipment, home health aides with specific training can dispense medicine, change wound dressings, and evaluate vital signs for clients.

Agencies vs. Private Hires

While most experts suggest working with a care agency, there are certain advantages to hiring someone privately. Both hiring methods have their own drawbacks. Your priorities and the choices available in your loved one’s part of the map will most likely determine which path is best for your family.

Why Work With an Agency?

  • Candidates are put through a screening process. Working with an agency may provide your family additional assurance about your home health aide’s qualifications and skills since most agencies carefully screen candidates. This usually includes background and reference checks, as well as citizenship confirmation and any certifications, all of which may be tough to do on your own.
  • Caretakers are well-qualified. Agencies not only have a wider pool of qualified candidates to choose from, but they also have a vested interest in delivering exceptional candidates since the people are legally their employees. Some agencies even provide ongoing training for their staff or promise to handle any refunds or legal problems that arise as a result of theft.
  • Agencies evaluate your needs. Many agencies will visit your loved one’s home and do a free evaluation of potential services.
  • Finding backup or substitute aides is easy. If your home health aide becomes sick, moves away with their family, or the arrangement just isn’t working out, an agency can find a suitable replacement in a matter of days. Temporary home health workers can also be hired via agencies.

Downsides of an Agency:

  • They are costlier than private caregivers. At least in terms of hourly expenses, agencies are often 20 to 30 percent more expensive than independent caregivers.
  • Many require hour minimums. If your agency is going to send a person to your loved one’s house, they must make that person’s time worthwhile. To do this, many agencies have set a minimum number of hours for every shift, typically three or four. Certain agencies require a minimum of 20 hours per week. These shifts may be unpleasant for anyone already short on cash, particularly when the patient doesn’t need much care.

Why Choose a Private Hire?

  • They’re less expensive. Private hires are sometimes up to 30% less expensive per hour than agencies, and there are no shift minimums, so you won’t be paying for time you don’t need.
  • You can personalize your care. With private hires, you will be able to hire whomever you want. You also have more say over the job duties, requirements, and even who is hired as the caregiver. When dealing with agencies, you are given a general job description and are only given the option of selecting specific caregivers from a pre-determined list. You may be as precise as you want with private hiring in terms of what your caregiver should offer.

Negatives of Private Hires

  • Hiring requires time. Hiring a private home health assistant takes much more time and effort than choosing professionals from an agency’s pre-vetted applicant list. After all, this is one of the things you pay for when you hire an agency.
  • You will have more duties. When you hire privately, you’ll incur plenty of additional expenses and obligations, including but not limited to:
  • Conducting and paying for drug tests and background checks.
  • Following all tax regulations, such as paying the minimum wage and 50% of the aide’s Medicare taxes and social security.
  • Paying for any work-related illnesses or injuries, which are common in the caregiving profession.
  • Backups may be required. When your home health aide is sick or not available, you are responsible for finding a qualified and trustworthy substitute.

Finding the Right Home Health Aide

Once you’ve found a reputable agency with whom your family feels comfortable working, it’s time to choose your particular provider.

What to Look for in Individual Caregivers

Home health aides who have received training—either from a school or through their agency—provide a valuable set of skills. When evaluating individual caregivers, however, mastery of job-specific activities should not be the sole factor to consider. Finding someone who is a good personality match should also be a priority. Why? Because, although home health aides are experts, the roles they play are personal. A good connection with the patient, as with all caregivers, may make or break the scenario.

Here are the top 10 traits you should look for in home health aides.

  • Attentive
  • Dependable
  • Calm/Patience
  • Trained or Educated
  • Enthusiastic
  • Compassionate
  • Experienced
  • Humor
  • Trustworthy/Honest
  • Initiative
  • Resourceful
  • Resilience
  • Supportive

Final Thoughts

The proper home health aide may make a huge difference in your loved one’s life. Paid caregivers may also offer considerable relief to a patient’s family by removing some of the burden from your shoulders.

You must take care of yourself to be there for your loved one, and hiring a professional caregiver is one method to do so. Taking this step does not indicate that you have failed; rather, it indicates that you have recognized what is best for you and your loved one.

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