Most older adults need help at home at some point, whether it is with medical needs or the basic activities of daily living, such as dressing, bathing, cooking and shopping. Some have the benefit of a family member who is available and willing to help, while some must seek outside help. A professional caregiver may either take over the entire job of caregiving or supplement the work of an informal caregiver. Choosing an individual home care worker or an agency is something that must be done with great care and consideration. After you assess your loved one’s care needs, ask a lot of questions and make sure you cover your responsibilites:
- Does the agency screen and train caregivers?
- Do caregivers undergo a criminal background check?
- Does the agency handle all the taxes and insurance? Are the agency and worker both bonded? Will Medicare, ALTCS or your private insurance cover any of the costs?
- Find out taxes will you be required to pay if you hire the worker on your own. (See https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/family-caregivers-and-self-employment-tax)
- Seek referrals from a trustworthy source.
- Avoid using a “help wanted” ad to hire a caregiver. You do not know the background—or motives—of those who respond. Be wary of ads seeking employment for an individual caregiver for the same reason. For lists of home care agencies and home health care agencies, contact your local Area Agency on Aging.
Consider taking some additional precautions if you do hire someone. It might be wise, for example, to move your valuables to another location for safekeeping—at least lock them up, at least temporarily. Unfortunately, seniors have lost many precious belongings to dishonest caregivers.
If you assess several agencies and caregivers using these guidelines, you will be in a good position to make an informed decision and the right selection.
The law office of elder law attorney Scott C. Painter, P.C., is located in Wyomissing (outside of Reading, PA, in Berks County,) and offers trusted legal services in the areas of elder law, including nursing home planning, trust and estate services, and veterans benefits. Scott C. Painter is a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA®), and he is also a member of the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA).
If you have an issue or question, we encourage you to call us. With legal matters, time is of the essence. Call us for a consultation at 610-378-5140. The $300 consultation fee is waived if Attorney Painter is retained to perform services.