When you are finally ready to hire a private caregiver for an aging parent, how do you go about finding the right person? Whether you source referrals from friends, go through a caregiving agency, or try to find a caregiver on your own, the process of making sure that they are qualified to care for your loved one should be the same.
Receiving care at home is ideal for many people, as 77 percent of people over the age of 50 would prefer to age in place. Inviting someone into your home, or your parent’s home, is a deeply personal thing, however. Not only do you want to make sure that your parent will be receiving the best possible care, you also want to find someone who will respect their home and personal preferences. Being an exceptional caregiver calls for more than just being good with people, it also requires proper training and experience.
Types of Care at Home & Caregiver Qualifications
There are many different types of certifications that caregivers can hold, and some caregivers may not hold certifications at all. In many cases, certifications don’t trump the amount of experience a caregiver has, as real-life experience can be more valuable than what you’re taught in a classroom. Of course, depending on the level of care that your loved one needs, a certification might be one of your top priorities.
As you begin to interview private caregivers, consider the following in order to make the right choice for your loved one:
If You Need Companion Care:
If your loved one needs help with Activities of Daily Living (ADL), such as meal preparation, light housework, social interaction, and bathing or dressing, companion care is an excellent service that a private caregiver can provide.
- Companion Caregiver: There are a variety of training programs--including one offered by our Tandem team--that provide guidance and hands-on experience for caregivers. Many of them include a CPR course, elder abuse training, and mobility training, among other lessons that are intended to give caregivers practical knowledge and safety training out in the field. Although they may not have an official certification, companion caregivers are well trained and well qualified to provide care for your loved one.
- Professional Caregiver (PC): In the state of California, PC’s must complete at least 10 hours of training in order to achieve their certification. The 10 hours cover the basics, like the role of a caregiver, safety training, emergency procedures, how to perform personal hygiene and other activities of daily living, and how to provide daily support for clients who receive care at home.
- Personal Care Assistant (PCA): A PCA is trained to help clients in the home with activities of daily living, preparing food, cleaning and running errands. PCA’s are also sometimes called Companions, and can drive their clients to appointments and help manage their care needs. PCA’s receive their certification from The National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC).
- Certified Home Health Aide (HHA): A Home Health Aide also helps with activities of daily living but has the ability to administer medications, changing bandages and checking vital signs, which requires them to undergo additional training. In California, HHA’s are required to complete 75 hours of training in order to become certified.
If You Need More Specialized Care:
When in home care begins to exceed the need for companion care, a private caregiver with more schooling can better serve your loved one and their healthcare needs.
- Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA): CNA’s complete 100 hours of supervised clinical training and 50 hours of classroom training. After students successfully complete a state-approved certified Nurse Assistant program, the training program arranges for the state approved exam. Applicants must maintain criminal record clearance in order to be certified. Every two years CNAs have to renew their certification by completing 48 hour of CEU's and work 1 day for pay providing nursing services under the supervision of a licensed medical professional.
- Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN): LVN’s are healthcare practitioners who have graduated from an accredited school or vocational program. In order to receive their degree they must have hands-on practice under the supervision of a Registered Nurse or physician. LVN’s can take vital signs, administer medications, and collect samples, in addition to being able to perform all the duties of a CNA.
- Registered Nurse (RN): RN’s provide the most in-depth levels of in home care, with the ability to perform diagnostic tests, determine treatment plans, and help patients figure out how to manage their health. The state of California requires RN’s to have completed a professional nursing program in an accredited school. Typically, those who hire an RN to be a private caregiver need a greater amount of care and attention due to chronic illness or failing health.
Beyond Certifications: Experience & Referrals
When you are interviewing caregivers, your primary questions may be focused on their prior experience. In some cases, experience can become a more important attribute than a certification. For instance, you might feel more comfortable hiring a seasoned certified caregiver when compared to an LPN who recently graduated from school. A private caregiver with years of experience will have probably been exposed to a wider range of client needs, giving them the ability to think quickly on their feet.
There are also benefits, however, to hiring a caregiver who recently completed their certification or schooling. They could be more knowledgeable about newer techniques and forms of technology that could be used to help treat their clients.
A caregiver’s prior experience, which should be able to be backed up by at least three references, can help paint a better picture for you of who the person is and how they think on the job. References especially can fill in the blanks that are often missing from a resume.
In addition to having the right training and experience, you want to make sure that whoever you hire to provide care at home for your loved one is a good match for them. Personality is a very important aspect of the caregiving experience; you can ask someone to take on additional duties, but you cannot really ask them to change their personality.
Before making an ultimate hiring decision about your loved one’s in home care, have your loved one meet them for an interview and maybe even have lunch together so they can become more acquainted before committing to working together. Think of it almost as being able to test drive a car before buying it.
Hire A Private Caregiver with TANDEM
At Tandem we go beyond simply matching up caregivers and careseekers. We aim to help your family through every step of the hiring journey--from securing care, to facilitating communication, to helping build the right relationships. We recruit highly skilled and qualified caregivers and run comprehensive background checks before introducing them to your family.
Learn more about Tandem and what we do to find out how we can help you relieve the stress of hiring a private caregiver. And then download our Caregiver Interview Guide to assist you during the interview process.