Choosing the Right Caregiver

Many of my clients have never gone through the process of interviewing and choosing the right caregiver. They are unsure of the attributes that they should be zeroing in on. There are certainly many criteria that one must take into account and prioritizing them may be very individual but here are some that should be considered.

Communication. It is essential that you can communicate with the caregiver. The caregiver may not speak perfect English but should certainly understand most of what you tell him or her. Since the only language that I know is English, my clients can rest assure that the caregiver’s first test has to be if they can communicate with me. Beyond that, there are some individuals that are better with relaying vital information and have the good common sense to know when to do so. That would be information that you could find out from their references.

Price. Every family has a budget in mind for how much they would like to spend per week on a caregiver. For some the price point is the sticking point, for others there are more important criteria. Be very clear on how much you can spend and be realistic with your expectations. Price does not always determine the quality of the caregiver but it may limit your selection and the skills set that the caregiver may possess.

Skills. For some families, only very basic skills are necessary; for others, more sophisticated skills are called for. Some basic skills are: cooking, cleaning, bathing, dressing, Skin Care and medication reminders. Some advanced skills may entail: Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care, Lifting and Transferring, Incontinence Care, Respiratory Care (Oxygen Mask), and Feeding (pureed and thickened foods). All these should be taken in account when setting a price point and of course, when selecting a caregiver.

Personality and Demeanor. There are some families who want their caregiver to be demure, quiet and low key; others want a take charge, strong and talkative individual; others want someone in between. This is something that should be evaluated during the intake process as one of the criteria for your search.

Character. A caregiver should be dependable, trustworthy, intelligent, responsible, caring, compassionate, on- time, reliable, clean, friendly, taking initiative level headed etc., all with the right measure. Since each family feels more strongly about some character traits than others, prioritizing them would be important to do before the interview process. These traits may be verified by calling references as well and observing the caregiver during the interview process.

Chemistry. The elusive and abstract chemistry between two people is difficult to describe and to ascertain but there is always our initial gut reaction. Liking the person at your initial meeting may be a good barometer of future interaction but of course, no guarantee. You can only hope for the best.

Sometimes we get it right the first time around and sometimes not. Even equipped with all this knowledge, sometimes our first choice may not be the best choice. I always tell my clients that they are not “married” to the caregiver and have the right to interview and hire another to replace him or her. It is helpful to work with an agency and especially an experienced intake counselor who can also guide you through this process.