For concerned family members, facing the choice to put an elderly parent or loved one in a nursing home is right up there with the most difficult decisions we could have to make.
Being a primary caregiver to a person in this situation is always exhausting. You can easily end up spending all of your time caring for this person, with the result that you forget to take care of yourself or have nothing left to offer the rest of your family. This is why so many people have little choice but to turn to a professional facility with full-time care.
There is another option, however, for those who can find the financial resource to make it work. In this situation, hiring an in-home care provider can be the best solution for everyone.
An Alternative to the Retirement Home
If you and your elderly loved one have the financial resources – and enough living space – for a live-in care provider, it can be the most satisfying middle-ground between a full-time care facility and the patient remaining at home, potentially in danger.
This type of non-medical home care is also especially well suited to those who are providing long distance caregiving.
If you, as a primary caregiver, cannot be with your loved one round-the-clock, then a live-in care provider will help to fill the gap when you leave. This is especially true if the senior in question requires constant monitoring, supervision, and assistance with the majority of the daily tasks they must undertake.
Home Care Agency or Independent Contractor?
If you can afford it, it’s generally easier to hire a home care agency to provide assistance and support for your senior family member. They are typically easier to work with because you have expert administrators to find, screen, and place the appropriate individual care provider(s).
An agency will generally handle all administrative problems that arise and work with you to resolve any unfortunate incidents. Furthermore, agencies manage the payroll of the caregiver.
One disadvantage of hiring a care agency versus an independent contractor, therefore, is that they are typically more expensive. They do more of the work, but you pay more for that privilege.
Given that most families considering live-in care are doing so because they have limited time to offer care themselves, however, the time saving alone usually mean that paying the extra for an agency is money well spent.
Conversely, independent providers are cheaper than care agencies, but will accordingly do less for the money you spend.
Some independently owned and operated home care contractors do not require a background check, for example, so you would have to do this on your own. For the safety of your family and your own peace of mind, such security checks are a must and should be incorporated into any price comparison between home care agencies and independent contractor caregivers.
Disciplinary issues, day-to-day administration, payroll and other financial aspects must also be handled by the employer, so you will need to be up to speed on the ins and outs of home care requirements to hire independently.
If you have limited resources but have some free time to take care of these situations, then hiring an independent contractor may be the best option for you and your loved one.
Tips for Hiring an Independent Provider
Since some independent contractors do not require background checks, you should take the time to learn about this requirement and how to do it for yourself. Before hiring a non-medical home care provider independent contractor, make sure that you set up an appointment and conduct a personal interview with the potential candidate.
Lay out a task plan of the specific chores that he or she is expected to perform. It is best that you discuss salary payments during the interview itself to avoid any problems at a later date. If there are multiple children or other family members involved, try to involve them in the interview process as much as possible. Not all siblings will want to be involved, but offering the opportunity is one way to limit complaints and may even provide a useful new perspective, if you are able to convince another to help out.
The financial element runs through all aspects of hiring an in-home caregiver. If you are able to involve other family members, they might be willing to help cover the not inconsiderable costs of the service.
You also need to make sure that your care budget will stretch some way into the future. Planning for three to six months will not be enough in most cases. Aim for a minimum of one year and try to have a couple of months in reserve, in case you need to transition to another care option unexpectedly. The comfort of your loved one is key, especially when you’ve reached the point of live-in care, so sensible budgeting will allow you to provide the best care you can afford and minimize disruption if things don’t go to plan.
Lastly, and possibly most importantly, it is better to include the elderly family member who would be the recipient to ensure that all parties are comfortable and that the specific needs of your loved one will be respected and catered to.
Weigh Up the Costs Carefully
Whichever path you pursue, independent or agency-sourced, a live-in caregiver can offer the best of both worlds when caring for your senior family member and loved one.
As you make the difficult decision about how to provide the appropriate level of care without alienating the individual in question, be sure to consider the value of your own time and how much energy you can dedicate to caring for them. The temptation to take on certain areas of care yourself if laudable, but it’s often the case that a third-party is just as capable and, in some circumstances, better qualified to care for your loved one.
In the long-term, every situation is unique and only your family knows how much care your senior needs. Try to step back from the emotion of the decision as much as you are able. Ask yourself what’s best for the person receiving care and what you can realistically budget to make it happen for them.
In all cases, finding some kind of care help will alleviate the burden you feel when caring for a loved on.
Whether it’s a full-time live-in caregiver or a home health aide who visits once a week, the respite and peace of mind you’ll receive from their assistance will be well worth the price.