Dad was in the later stages of Alzheimer’s and could no longer do anything for himself. He had even stopped talking and was either unable to hear or could not understand anything we said to him. When he stopped walking, Mom had to admit she needed help. We needed to hire a caregiver.
Our first task was to set clear expectations for what our caregiver must be able to do based on what Dad needed. We listed the usual things: we needed help with bathing and dental care, meal prep and feeding, medication, changing bed linens and transfers from the bed to the wheelchair and back again. We would ask about the caregiver candidate’s personal insurance, immunizations, CPR and first aid training, years of specific experience and, of course, we would expect references from previous clients.
It’s scary to decide that you’re going to bring someone into your home to care for a loved one. Kim Tweedel, owner of Advocates for the Independent, a home care company, says it’s important to ask the right questions, then follow up and verify. “When we interview new caregivers, we actually do a skills assessment test to verify that they have all the skills they say they have.” In addition to a thorough background and credit check, AFTI caregivers are required to pass HIPAA Certification, Abuse Training and Infection Control courses. Those of AFTI’s caregivers who are Certified Nursing Assistants are required to keep their certification current. In addition to regular in-person training sessions, AFTI caregivers have frequent supervisor visits during their caregiving appointments. “We’re big on training,” Kim says.
An experienced caregiver will expect a thorough questioning and follow-up to verify the information they give you. A full discussion of expectations—yours and theirs—is always important. We also felt more comfortable with written, detailed instructions and schedules for all medications.
You wouldn’t be hiring a caregiver unless you needed to. It’s easier if you prepare, document and verify until you are confident you found the right caregiver and the two of you understand each other. Trust works both ways. The more you know, the more comfortable you will be.