How To Hire A Caregiver by Jennifer Lagemann

Hiring outside help to care for a loved one or yourself can be challenging in any situation. Here is some information to guide you in your decision-making process.

Caregiving covers a variety of tasks including getting the mail, meal preparation and planning, shower assistance, and medication assistance. Before deciding to hire a caregiver, make sure that you understand the scope of support that you need.

There are a few ways to hire caregivers as well as different types of caregivers that you can hire which we will cover in this article. The hardest part of navigating caregiving work is the administrative and red tape that emerges, and by aligning yourself with a reputable organization that supplies caregivers, you will be armed with the knowledge that you need in order to be dangerously effective and efficient.

You may have been caring for your loved one for a while and need a break, or maybe you’re starting from scratch following a medical emergency, regardless of where you fall in the spectrum, you will find helpful information to inform your decision-making process and pick a caregiver that shares your values and fulfills you and your loved one’s care needs.

What you should have ready

When you are looking for a caregiver, there are some things that you should know before putting up a job listing or calling around for assistance. Here is a list of things you should have on hand:

  • A complete list of care needs for your loved one
  • A tentative schedule in mind/when you want to start
  • A rough care plan based on your observations and experience
  • Power of Attorney (or their contact information)
  • A source of payment or governmental assistance readily available (such as Medicaid, Medicare, VA benefits, or long term care insurance)
  • Your loved one’s consent to receive care
  • A list of questions that you would like to ask your caregiver

This is not an exhaustive list, but this is more than enough information to get you through a service call with a local agency or to put up a job posting of your own in search of a caregiver.

What to do next

Once you’ve compiled your list of questions, it’s now time to decide what type of care you are looking for. For in-home support, you can hire a variety of different caregivers. In this article, we will be talking exclusively about non-medical caregivers. Non-medical support involves meal preparation, shower assistance, transportation, and other activities of daily living. Here are the types of caregivers available to you:

  • Private caregivers
  • Caregivers that work at agencies

Each type of caregiver has a different set of positives and negatives that we will go over.

Private Caregivers

Private caregivers function as independent contractors, who work for themselves.

The benefits of working with a private caregiver include:

  • You can communicate directly with the caregiver yourself
  • All your money goes directly toward the caregiver
  • You only have one (or however many you choose) caregiver to come in and out of your house

The cons of working with a private caregiver include:

  • If your caregiver is sick or needs vacation time, you will need to find your own replacement
  • Caregivers don’t carry liability insurance and the proper insurances to protect themselves and you in the event of an incident
  • You are essentially the employer in this situation and would be responsible to that through the IRS
  • Background checks and qualifications
  • Rigid with payment methods

Home care agency caregivers

Home care caregivers are hired employees that work under an agency’s umbrella.

The benefits of working with a home care agency include:

  • You are communicating with the home care agency office team who will relay all necessary information to your caregiver
  • Agencies always have staff on-call to answer questions
  • A nurse (or qualified professional) comes out to your home to do an assessment and initial meetings with you and your loved one to discuss rates, put a care plan together, and talk about preferred traits in caregivers
  • They will arrange for a substitute caregiver in the event of a call-off
  • Caregivers are insured, bonded, and trained in-house, and you are not liable to be their employer
  • Home care agencies perform thorough criminal background, driving record checks, and drug screenings before hiring
  • Payment is flexible via credit card/check, long-term care insurance, Veteran’s Benefits, Medicaid Waiver, Medicare Advantage, etc...

The cons of working with a home care agency:

  • You may have several caregivers coming in and out of your home
  • A home care agency is more expensive than a private caregiver (since they must pay their office staff, office space, vendors, equipment, insurance, etc…)
  • You generally don’t communicate with the caregiver directly unless you’re at the house together

Decide which model of care best aligns with your loved one’s care needs and start contacting them. If you’re looking for a private caregiver, you can post listings on sites like, Indeed, and MyCNAJobs. If you’re looking for a home care agency, you can inquire directly on their websites or by calling their office numbers.

Competitive shopping

Once you’ve decided which caregivers you want to work with, or you’ve narrowed down a few agencies that you want to work with based on reviews, or other feedback, it’s time to ask the hard-hitting questions.

Here are a few to get you started:

  • How long have you been in business for?
  • Can you give me an example of a positive client outcome while in your care?
  • What are your rates? Do you charge more for weekends, holidays, or nights?
  • Do you accept long-term care insurance or other payment-assistance programs such as Worthright?
  • Why should I hire you as opposed to the next person?
  • What happens if my loved one’s needs increase?
  • How do you handle call-offs or a last-minute shift?
  • Can I meet the caregiver before starting services?

These questions should give you a good understanding of how an agency will handle your loved one’s care and you in the process. Pay careful attention to how the person picks up the phone, the tone they use in conversing with you, and compare/contrast website information with what you’re told. Lead the conversation as much as you can and arm yourself with all the information that you can get. There are no stupid questions.

Final notes

It’s important to check reviews and previous client testimonials before making any purchasing decision, but make sure to take these with a grain of salt. Some reviews may be dated, or perhaps there was a recent change of ownership.

New caregivers emerge into the caregiving market every day, and it’s important to weigh them equally with other options available to you.

When looking to hire a caregiver for your loved one, there is no room or space to compromise on care. Ask the questions that you need to feel comfortable and secure in your decision-making process. Consult with your family, loved ones, and other individuals who want to be involved and gather their input. This doesn’t have to be a journey you walk on your own.

Searching for care can feel like a full-time job at times, see if you can delegate tasks. Assign the cold calling to one person, while the other can look into what benefits your loved one is eligible for, etc… Best of luck in your journey to hiring a caregiver.