A good home caregiver plays a vital role in a senior’s life. As people get older, it’s common for them to feel lonely and isolated, which can impair their health. But a relationship with their caregiver can improve both their physical and mental well-being.
From assisting patients with small tasks crucial to their quality of life, like bathing, cooking, exercising, and housekeeping to offering regular companionship, quality caregivers help seniors live their best lives.
But how do you find them? How do you know what to look for, and what to ask prospective providers?
Steps to finding a good home caregiver
Step 1: Do the research
Surprisingly, home care providers are not tightly regulated, which makes researching different companies essential. Start by meeting with a reputable home care company in your area. Be prepared to evaluate several providers before you find the best one to suit your unique needs.
As you progress through your evaluation process, make sure you write down exactly the service that’s been agreed upon and the name of the person being assigned to you for each prospective home care provider. You may discover that some offer more than others early into your search; having a master list of what different companies provide can help you refine your choices accordingly.
Highlight holistic approaches
A good home care provider finds out what their patients want and provides it. Importantly, they don’t assume, they ask. Good caregivers always ask why. This is because the more they know about their patient’s beliefs and values, the more successful the patient’s outcomes will be.
Taking a holistic approach—including a patient’s physical, mental and emotional wellbeing—can help seniors far more than just tending to everyday chores. Caregivers with an awareness of the intersectionality of the services they provide are always worth talking to.
Prospective providers should understand that evaluations are a two-way street. This is particularly true because most people can’t fully appreciate the slow decline that can occur as they age. Skilled nurses, however, can help make the aging process easier. They address this during the initial evaluation.
During the first evaluation, you’ll be able to tell whether a prospective provider understands the medical complexities of aging and the holistic demands of caregiving. A good caregiver can offer foresight and intelligence on the road to recovery. A less experienced one may not be able to offer this.
Step 2: evaluating different home care providers
Finding the right provider requires more than internet searching and making phone calls. Schedule an in-home assessment with a dedicated care coordinator. This will let you really get an idea of what a company can do for you.
During the assessment, the care coordinator will discuss care options with you and your loved ones at length. This affords you the opportunity to personally interview prospective caregivers at length.
Here are a few things to look for during your in-home assessment:
Experience. Ask them to discuss how they work with other patients. Be prepared to talk to their references. If your loved one has a pre-existing condition, such as dementia or diabetes, make sure the caregiver has worked with these conditions before. If meal preparation will be a part of their duties, ask them about the foods they enjoy cooking and about accommodating special dietary restrictions or requests.
Skills. Discuss their training and why they chose to become a caregiver. Before they go, confirm that they’ve received the proper certifications according to state guidelines—and don’t be afraid to ask to see proof.
Passion. Find out how passionate they are about their patients by asking them why they chose to work in their profession. Ask if they have any personal experience caring for older family members, and if that made them want to help others. Caregiving is more than just another job, and your loved ones deserve a care provider who always puts patients first.
Patience. One of the most important qualities to look for in a caregiver is patience, especially if your loved one has Alzheimer’s or dementia. Ask about a difficult experience they had with a previous client and how they handled it. Look for both composure and warmth when they answer.
Compassion: The bond between a patient and caregiver is very important. They will be spending plenty of time together, and shared interests make visits more rewarding for both parties. Empathy and attentiveness foster a trusting relationship. The most ideal scenario occurs when values and beliefs are aligned.
Communication: Home caregivers need to have good communication and a positive attitude. Your caregiver should keep patients calm and comfortable, even when discussing changes in their condition. Problem-solving is a huge part of caregiving and requires perseverance and excellent communication skills.
Step 3: make your selection and set your caregiver up for success
Once you’ve found the right home care provider for you and your loved ones, the evaluation process continues.
Planning ongoing care
To ensure optimal success for your loved one and their caregiver, create a personalized care plan before the first visit. Begin by thinking about what is important to the patient and decide on a solution. Ask questions until everyone understands the patient’s history, what they used to do, and what they want to get back to.
A checklist helps everyone. It sets expectations and makes sure everyone knows what is expected of them, setting both patient and caregiver up for success before services start.
The first visit and beyond
The supervisor should accompany the caregiver on the first visit in order to review the care plan and decide how to proceed. Before leaving, they should check the home for safety and ensure all rooms are properly equipped to meet the needs of the caregiver and patient.
Recurring visits should smooth the path to recovery, with complete and personal solutions that suit individual lifestyles. To this end, stay involved after the first visit, and help maintain the positive communication that made you feel comfortable choosing them.
Quality home care providers welcome family feedback, incorporating suggestions into care plans to ensure that patients remain safe and comfortable in their homes, and stay as active, healthy, and happy as possible.