Does this sound familiar? You’re tired, anxious, possibly in pain and now you need to make a very important decision with very limited information. Either you need a caregiver for yourself because you are recovering from injury or illness, or you are tasked to find one for a loved one.
“Often people think their only choice is a nursing home or similar facility,” said Claire M. Maestri, Director of Senior Care Services at MBF Agency (“Mothers Best Friend”), which assists clients in the Park Cities and Dallas in hiring caregivers, personal assistants, in-home chefs, housekeepers and other household staff.
“Most people would prefer to be at home if possible, but they worry their care is too extensive or they are nervous about finding someone they like and trust. Recent news stories of abuse, neglect or flat-out criminal behavior by some caregivers make the stakes even higher.”
Maestri sees these family issues every day as she helps families find home caregivers who will provide greater independence for the person needing care, and peace of mind for the family that their loved one is in good hands.
“Many families are pleasantly surprised to find out that a home caregiver can handle a wide range of medical situations, which allows more people to stay at home rather than in expensive facilities,” adds Maestri.
She offers these points to consider when determining when selecting the best caregiver for your situation.
How much medical support do you need?
A caregiver supports someone who can’t take care of himself or herself because of illness, injury or general decline. Their job descriptions vary, but often they include personal care such as help with dressing, bathing and grooming, and housekeeping. They cook meals, do the grocery shopping and can drive you or your loved one to doctor appointments.
A certified nursing assistant (CNA), performs these duties as well, but they have extra medical training – a minimum of 75 hours of instruction. All provide basic medical support like administering medications and injections, taking blood, tracking blood pressure and care for wounds and bedsores. They generally cost more because of their extra training.
What about dementia? “Caregivers are qualified to assist patients with mild dementia as long as the client has no medical conditions,” notes Maestri. “A CNA is typically chosen for anyone with diabetes, a previous heart attack or stroke, or ambulatory problems.”
Is your agency as rigorous as you are?
“This is not the time to try and do everything yourself,” says Maestri. “A professional agency will remove the stress and do the legwork for you. Be sure they are as rigorous as you would be if you had the time to sift through hundreds of applications.”
- Nationwide background and criminal checks. Criminals tend to move around so don’t just settle for a local check.
- All references checked. “You’d be surprised how few employers actually conduct background checks,” notes Maestri. “When they do, many will stop at one or two and possibly miss important information. We check all past employers whether they are given as a reference or not.”
- DMV checked. “If this person is driving you to appointments or to the store, you want to make sure they don’t have a lot of violations on their record,” adds Maestri.
- Sex offender search.
- Drug and health screening.
- Credit check.
- Verification of Social Security and other legal documents. “With identify theft so rampant, you want to make sure your caregiver isn’t actually ‘borrowing’ someone else’s good reputation,” cautions Maestri.
- In-person interviews. You don’t just want someone who looks good on paper. They need to be presentable and personable if they are going to spend long periods in your home.
Be sure to also to ask for their references as well as the potential caregiver’s.
“Regardless of whether you choose a caregiver or a certified nurse assistant, these helpers are companions as well as support,” notes Maestri. “It is as important to find a personality fit as it is to find competence. With the agency thoroughly vetting the candidates, chemistry and ‘fit’ into your family is the part of the process for you to determine.”
Many Park Cities families who hire a home caregiver rely on Mom’s Best Friend Agency. MBF provides one-on-one customer service, personalized matching and the highest-caliber candidates. All caregivers receive first aid and CPR training as well as attending a professional development class.
Mom's Best Friend