This is part of a series of articles that walk families through the decision process of hiring a home care agency. Additional topics include how to have a conversation with your loved one about home care, aligning expectations with home care agencies, and how to choose between residential options and at-home care. Click here for our full series of articles on home care.

I strongly recommend working with an agency that will facilitate an introduction to caregiver(s) prior so that the family is part of the vetting process.

This initial meeting allows for familiarity with the person coming into the home so that the client feels comfortable and the family has peace of mind.

The family will want to know that the agency they select performs full background checks of their employees. Discuss the wants and needs of the client to ensure a mutual understanding of the caregiver’s role and duties. It’s critically important to align these expectations. It’s best to have these conversations before entering into a contractual agreement.

How do you recognize a good caregiver?

Engage with the caregiver during an initial meeting to see if this person makes eye contact, takes initiative in the conversation, and is easy to engage. Ask potential candidates about their knowledge, experience, and why they chose this profession.

A caregiver who seeks to create opportunity rather than be resigned to limitations is the kind of person I want to provide care. For example, a person bound to a wheelchair will benefit from a caregiver who takes him or her outside for a walk each day, rather than seeing such effort as too cumbersome and remaining indoors all the time.

Some clients are not conversationalists. Their needs may be mostly physical and their personality does not lend itself to having a talkative companion. Even in this case, I still prefer to hire a caregiver who will be an interested and active participant in the daily life of my loved one.

Ask if the caregiver has had training in working with dementia patients, how many years of caregiving experience they have, and whether their experiences in providing caregiving have been personal or professional, or both.

About the Author

Karen Faith Gordon specializes in providing support to individuals and families addressing issues of aging. Services provided include mental health counseling, grief counseling, patient advocacy, medical care coordination, real estate and placement guidance to address short and long term care needs, and adaptive yoga for optimal well being.

In a system fraught with bumpy rides, Karen provides guidance, direction, and reassurance to achieve optimal well-being for older adults and those caring for them.

Karen’s ideal client is someone who is facing the challenges of a spouse/parent/loved one who is experiencing cognitive or physical decline. This client seeks guidance and support from a knowledgeable expert to create a plan to address short- and long-term needs.

Her relationships with clients, colleagues, and providers of care reflect years of collaborative effort to achieve best outcomes. She has presented to audiences locally and nationally to educate on topics of care management, affordable health care, and the benefits of yoga and aging.