Hiring? How to Check a Caregiver’s References

Whether hiring for a loved one (or two) at home or hiring a new employee for a small or large corporate agency, it is important to know who you are really getting.

First time hiring or replacing of caregivers can provoke anxiety, and rightfully so.  This person will be in a home and intimately involved with a vulnerable person.  Financial accounts and computers can be accessed.  Worse still, physical or emotional abuse can take place and much harm done before it is caught and stopped.

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Caregivers should have broad spectrum education prior to hire.  They should know about professional boundaries and how to communicate with family members and their clients.  They should know how to be prepared for any emergency.  They should know how to keep the days from being too boring and lifeless.  Of course, check a certified Personal Care Aide registry to find that out.  But, even if they can demonstrate that they know those things, how can you know what they are really like on the job?  In addition to asking for caregiving credentials and certifications, you must also ask for –and check- references.

Always do a little research before you sign a contract with a home care or home health agency or hire an independent Home Health or Personal Care Aide. Sure, you can check the Better Business Bureau, but sometimes competitors’ plant complaints, so be careful of relying solely on that information. It is better to confirm interview claims of job experience by checking  prior hire references.

Ask for 2-3 references — and be sure to actually talk with the person referenced.  Get references from past employers – not family members or friends.  Now, what do you do If a care provider is new the business and does not have 2-3 past employers?  All you can reasonable do is trust your gut, focus on criminal background checks,  personal care aide education/certification credentials, and get a nanny cam- and use it.

So, how do you ‘check a reference’?

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Call an agency during business hours ( but not call during lunchtime) or a private client during the week between 7 and 9 pm, unless during the day makes sense. Ask the caregiver, who should know.  Otherwise, call on the weekends between 10 am and 8 pm. Identify yourself and clearly state up front that you are calling for a reference check on a person you are considering hiring for a job as a caregiver.  Clarify if the job you are hiring for is to provide for child care or elder care, and whether the care recipient has special needs.

Use these questions to check a caregiver reference, along with any of your own that are germane to the care experience:

  • How did you find the care aide before you hired them?
  • How long was the care aide or agency employed by you and when?
  • What were the circumstances which required the hire?
  • How well did the care aide fit the requirements?
  • What did you think of the quality of care provided? (Not how nice or sweet they were!)
  • Were there transportation challenges or other reliability problems?
  • For an agency, ask if they continuity of care was satisfactory or was there always different people assigned?
  • Did you have a good experience? Why or why not?
  • What kind of problems did you have, if any? Were they quickly and easily resolved?
  • Would you hire the person again?
  • Would you recommend them to your best friend or a relative?
  • Why did the job end?

If you follow these simple steps you can rest more assured that you will make a good choice in care provider.

Most people will understand why you need to check a reference.  Do not ignore the red flag if references are not provided or if you cannot reach a prior client after several attempts.

Good luck and happy hiring!

By Cathleen V. Carr

Need an affordable, convenient, quality caregiver certification program for yourself or an employee?  Online caregiver certification


Posted in Advocacy, Aging at home, Caregiving Career, Certified Care.org, Certified Caregiver, Certified Caregiving, Elder Care, Elder Care Goods and Services, Home and Health Care Agency, Nursing Home & Assisted Living, Professional Eldercare, Senior Care Auditing | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

FINAL RULE: Skilled Nursing Facility 30-Day All Cause Readmission Measure (SNFRM)

In the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 SNF Prospective Payment System (PPS) final rule, CMS adopted the SNFRM as the first measure for the Skilled Nursing Facility Value Based Purchasing (SNF VBP) Program. The measure is defined as the risk-standardized rate of all-cause, unplanned hospital readmissions of Medicare beneficiaries within 30 days of discharge from their prior hospitalization. Hospital readmissions are identified through Medicare hospital claims (not SNF claims) so no readmission data is collected from SNFs and there are no additional reporting requirements for the measure.

Readmissions to a hospital within the 30-day window are counted regardless of whether the beneficiary is readmitted directly from the SNF for after discharge from the SNF as long as the beneficiary was admitted to the SNF within 1 day of discharge from a hospital stay.

The measure excludes planned readmissions because they do not indicate poor quality of care.

The measure is risk-adjusted based on patient demographics, principal diagnosis from the prior hospitalization, comorbidities, and other health status variables that affect probability of readmission. In calculating the readmission measure, unplanned readmissions are identified using a modified version of the CMS planned readmissions algorithm.

Get unlicensed care aides educated and certified conveniently online at CertifiedCare.org

Other exclusions include patients who were hospitalized for medical treatment of cancer, do not have Medicare Part A coverage for the full 30-day window, and do not have Part A coverage for the 12 months preceding the prior hospital discharge. Additional exclusions include SNF stays with:

  • An intervening post-acute care admission within the 30-day window,
  • Patient discharge from the SNF against medical advice,
  • Principal diagnosis in prior hospitalization was for rehabilitation, fitting of prosthetics, or adjustment of devices,
  • Prior hospitalization for pregnancy, and
  • Other reasons documented in the measure’s technical specifications.

For more information on the SNF VBP Program, visit the CMS webpage at: https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Quality-Initiatives-Patient-Assessment-Instruments/Value-Based-Programs/Other-VBPs/SNF-VBP.html.

For questions about the SNF VBP Program, contact: SNFVBPinquiries@cms.hhs.gov.


Posted in Elder Care, Elder Law and Finances, Government, News, Nursing Home & Assisted Living, Professional Eldercare | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ideas for Loving Up an Elder on Valentine’s Day

Whether you love them with all your heart or kinda just like them, you can make St. Valentine’s Day special for the elder in your care.

You do not have to be crafty or clever (or have deep pockets) to show someone you appreciate them for being them.  Anyway, these days we could all do with a little more open heartedness (my word 🙂 ) towards one another, no?

Below are some suggestions which do not take much time to put together, are sentimentally appropriate, inside professional boundaries, within means of a tight budget, and not so predictable.


  1.  The gold standard is the timeless hand written message.  This can take the form of a card (handmade or formally fancy) or letter written on clean or decorated paper.  Think of the ways your elder is a stand out person, how they make you feel good, what you like about working with them, what you admire about how they live their life. Then simply tell them so straight from the heart.
  2. Get a box of their favorite flavor of red Jello and make a tasty treat.  Recipes for using Jello abound.  Use the sugar free Jello, if necessary.  If you use an old school mold for forming the jello into something artistic you will kick your presentation up a notch.
  3. Balloons.  Helium filled or blown up by you.  Get more than one (one smacks of a kiddie treat), the more the merrier.  Tie them together with ribbon or tie them to a lamps or chairs where they can be seen throughout the day.
  4. Lots of oldsters have a sweet tooth, so if your does present them with homemade (or not) cookies or a box/bag of their favorite candy or candy bar(s).  Again, if necessary get a sugar free substitute.  Let them enjoy them without interference, but within safe limits.  Do not help yourself, unless they invite you to do, otherwise.  The treat is for them.
  5. Ask them what their favorite romantic movie is and download it for them.  Ask them why it is their favorite.  Use this activity as an opportunity to engage in conversation which takes an interest in their heart and soul.  They might even share with you some charming stories from down memory lane.
  6. valentines-tea-timeInvite one of their friends or neighbors over.  This third person might appreciate being included as you might make their day special, too.  They can watch the movie, help eat the Jello or candy/cookies.  Maybe they might share a cup or tea or coffee… or something a little stiffer ; ).
  7. Ask your elder if they would like to take a walk through old photo albums and tell you about their loves and loved ones from days gone by.  Show you care by actively listening to them and asking questions about the people and events that meant so much to them.  Ask politely about sweet memories from the past like their first kiss, first crush, first love.
  8. Have a Red Day.  Get a bottle of red food coloring and make red pancakes or waffles for breakfast.  Make red colored beverages.  Make red cupcakes or cookies.  Make red tea. Dress them in red.  Use red place-mats and napkins and plates, etc.  Serve red food.
  9. If transportation is not a hassle, go to to the nicest mall in your area and have a treat, people watch and admire the shop displays.  Take along any mobility assistance equipment that might come in handy, just in case.
  10. Show them you cared enough about them to learn more about how to care for them even better than you could naturally.  Take your loving care to the next level.  Become a CertifiedCare.org registered Personal Care Aide. Get educated and certified in eldercare.  Take your care skills to the next level and their heart along for the ride.

By Cathleen V. Carr

Posted in Advocacy, Aging at home, Caregiving, Caring for a Veteran, Elder Care, Holistic Eldercare, Professional Eldercare, Senior Care Auditing, Special Needs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The difference between Palliative and Hospice Care


It is easy to confuse hospice and palliative care.  They are related sets of services both associated with minimizing or relieving as much as possible the pain and stress associated with life threatening conditions.

Both services are intended to support the patient and their loved ones.  Each has a vital role in chronic illness and end of life.



Palliative care is a medical sub specialty provided to people with serious illnesses. Physicians can help families find palliative care providers.  Patients can receive palliative care at any stage of a serious illness.  It can be provided in any setting including at home, in a hospital and at other places.

The purpose of palliative care is: The relief of symptoms, the maintenance of the best possible quality of life for the patient within the limitations of their illness, and support for family before and after the death of the patient. Patients and their families are usually introduced to palliative care when it becomes apparent that attempts at cure are no longer possible or are inappropriate.  (1)


Hospice is a type of palliative care for those with 6 months or less to live.  The goal of hospice to make a persons life as comfortable and as meaningful as possible.  Treatment includes nursing care, pain management, emotional support and aid with daily tasks.  Like palliative care, hospice can take place in a persons home, in a hospice facility, within a hospital or anywhere a person resides.

The purpose of hospice is to: Manage pain or any other symptoms which cause discomfort or stress.  Create a comfortable environment for the patient.  Allow the patient to be close to family and loved ones during the dying process.  Give relief to the patients caregiver(s).  Offer counselling to the patient and those close to the patient.  (2)


Both palliative and hospice care are provided by a specially trained interdisciplinary team whose members may include nurses, social workers, chaplains,and bereavement specialists who care for both the patient’s and families needs.

Death and pain management are part of most long term care jobs at some point.  This area of care deserves special attention and caregiving skills.

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CertifiedCare.org  offers a free eText on death, dying and the funeral planning process which is included with their caregiver certification programs.

Professional caregivers would be wise to be informed about both end of life treatment options as career steps to be considered as time and experience with adult care goes on.


  1.  ClevelandClinicMedEd.com/medicalpubs/diseasemanagement/hematology-oncology/palliative-medicine/
  2. Hospice Care (2006) JAMA 295:712

By Cathleen V. Carr

Posted in Advocacy, Aging, Aging at home, Caregiving, Caregiving Career, Caregiving Education and Credentialing, Elder Care, Holistic Eldercare, Professional Eldercare | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to easily Prevent and quickly Recover from Caregiver Burnout

Self care is so often forgotten or overlooked by care providers.  We all tend to get distracted from ourselves during the holidays or other especially hectic times.


It is too easy to get lost in doing for others and striving to make life pleasant and comfortable for others because, for many caregivers, it feels good to do these things for others.  The problem is, that we forget to respect our own needs and limits. When this happens, stress accumulates and burnout can threaten or actually occur.

We caregivers have to spread holiday cheer for our own families and also for those we care for, whether or not they are a relative.  A big draw back from this compassionate giving is often caregiver burnout.

So, here are some tips for preventing and recovering from caregiver burnout during the holidays (and every day)…

To avoid burnout:

  1. Check in with yourself throughout the day and honestly acknowledge feelings of fatigue or irritability.  Both are big warning signs of burnout.
  2. Be mindful to eat lightly and drink water every couple of hours.
  3. Do not feel that you must do everything for everyone yourself.
  4. Identify, notify /ask and be prepared with a list of easy tasks, someone reliable who can step in for you for an hour here or there to give you some respite.
  5. Tell your client/loved one that you need a few moments to yourself now, so you can continue to provide good care later.
  6. Get a few minutes per day of quiet time with no phone/computer/radio/talking).
  7. Avoid too much junk food or alcohol.

To recover from burnout:

  1. Drink lots of room temperature water.
  2. Eat a light, nutritious snack.
  3. Sit or lay down in a quiet and comfortable place with lights low or off.  Elevate your feet, if possible.
  4. Breathe deeply and very, very slowly; in through your nose and out through your mouth 10-50 times.
  5. Give your mind a break from noise with a few minutes of quiet.
  6. Do a few simple stretches to help relieve tension in your body.
  7. Take a walk around the block once or twice or do 50 deep knee bends, leg lifts and/or jumping jacks.
We love caregivers!

We love caregivers!

In honor of we who give so much to others throughout the year there has been a very special honorarium created just for you. Visit CertifiedCare.org for details and get their great PCA education programs at deep discounts now and for just a very short time.  

Ask loved ones and clients to chip in to make it happen.

You deserve it!

We know that nobody works harder during holidays than caregivers of the elderly. We hope this helps you out.  THANK YOU CAREGIVERS. 

Posted in Caregiving, Certified Care.org, Certified Caregiver, Certified Caregiving, Dementia Caregiving, Elder Care, Elder Care Goods and Services, Holistic Eldercare, Professional Eldercare, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

A valuable Gift for all Elder Care Aides…

We love caregivers!

We love caregivers!

Dear Friends,

Nobody works harder for so little than caregivers of of the elderly.  We caregivers have to spread cheer for our own families and also for those we care for, whether or not they are a relative.

In honor of we who give so much to others throughout the year, CertifiedCare, the #1 ranked online care aide education and certification organization, has created a very special gift for you.

But first, let me tell you why you are so lucky with a little backstory…

Some of you know we had already lowered our prices $150 off for the Autumn season.  The thing is, some people said they still could not swing the price, even though they really wanted to get access to these programs.  So it was decided that, since the CertifiedCare.org mission is to get family and professional PCAs well educated and certified with real, accredited credentials, we had to make a sacrifice and lower the prices again.  (The down side for you is that at these lower prices, you will not get the gold pin or frame worthy certificates, but you can still print out your certificates and will be in the free public registry).

But wait there is more…



We spent all morning trying to create a coupon just for Care.com and Elder Care Advice readers to use on the CertifiedCare.org website as our December Gift.  But, long story short, the programmer kept running into glitches getting the coupons to work between the sites and our merchant processor.  So, we took that as a sign that we should just change the prices on the Personal Care Aide and Senior Care Auditor programs – and everyone can get the gift, not just coupon recipients who visit this site.  So,… please share this post and tell your friends who could also use a big break that they also can take advantage of this huge discount (way more generous than the 50% off coupon was going to be).

Okay, here it is…

So now, whether you live in the United States or in one of the 192 countries where PayPal is accepted, you can now get $350 off the complete Personal Care Aide (PCA) Certification program (now only $99) and $450 off the Senior Care Auditor (SCA) Certification program  (now only $199). THIS IS A LIMITED TIME DISCOUNT! Prices will go back to normal soon, so don’t dilly dally : )

Visit the CertifiedCare.org website for details about CertifiedCare.org and their great PCA education programs and certification registry. The PCA certification program includes 4 certifications and the SCA program includes 5 certification programs.  You WILL be prepared for most anything that comes your way if you learn the material.  Study online at your own pace and test when you are ready-no pressure!

We hope this helps you out.

Ask loved ones and clients to chip in to make it happen.  

You deserve it!

Study at own pace, test when you are ready, get quality accredited credentials...

Study at own pace, test when you are ready, get quality accredited credentials…

Season’s Greetings to all of you who take such good care of the frail elderly and chronically ill adults of the world!



Posted in Caregiving Career, Caregiving Education and Credentialing, Certified Care.org, Certified Caregiving, Professional Eldercare, Special Deals and Discounts, Stories | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

4 Ways Caregivers Grow a Senior Care Auditing Career

As the frail aged population mushrooms in growth and charges of elder abuse and neglect are on the rise, where is the silver lining for caregivers?  Today the certified Senior Care Auditor can save the day for the elder and the caregiver.  In addition to being an alternative to providing personal care, or an add-on service for an existing elder care service, SCAs are becoming the new elite of personal care providers.

senior care services certification

Senior Care Auditors holding tablets

Whether you work for an SCA agency part time, or you need a full time independent career, or maybe you like the home care agency you work for and see the opportunities to grow professionally and help your agency grow, too, the doors are wide open for you now.

In this article we talk about how to grow your Senior Care Auditor career whether you work for yourself or someone else.

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Help your agency provide a great new service by becoming a Certified Senior Care Auditor

1)AGENCY:  Much like the physician liaison is constantly on the move, visiting clinics and making connections, the Certified Senior Care Auditor (CSCA) helps home care agencies and individuals check up on the safety, wellbeing, and possible unmet needs of frail elders and other vulnerable adults who might someday become care clients for the agency.

SCAs can  function as a  Quality Assurance Liaisons for the home care agency they work for.  This service can enormously please clients who appreciate the extra care and interest in their case – and in them.  Happy clients make for good reviews by word of mouth and online, and more referrals.

2)LAWYERS and SOCIAL WORKERS: Faster and Easier Reporting

Here’s something to think about:
Recent studies have shown that long work hours increased the chances of early death by almost 20%*.

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Lawyers and social workers dread reporting. Compiling this data and fashioning it into meaningful reports can take A LOT of time and energy.  It is super stressful and a LOT of work.  But that is their job.  Yours can be to go get the information they need to decide whether or not to pursue prosecution of a case.  You can make their life much easier and for less money than a traditional investigator (who knows nothing about the elderly).

The use of Senior Care Auditors  helps lawyers and social workers compile their field notes more efficiently and with MUCH less work and stress.  Happy lawyers and social workers, after they have found they can trust your reports, make for more referrals coming your or your agencies way. This directs the flow of money straight to your bottom line.

To become a Certified Senior Care Auditor you can only go to CertifiedCare.org for accredited PCA/SCA education and registry.

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3) LONG DISTANCE CAREGIVERS:  Lots of adult children live hundreds or thousands of miles away from their parents or other elderly loved ones. It is not uncommon in the United States and increasingly this phenomenon is spreading worldwide as younger people move into large cites for economic opportunities.  But, just because your far away does not mean you do not care or are not interested in the well being of those you left behind.  This is where a Senior Care Auditor comes in.  SCAs can check on your loved one and report back giving reassurance or reality checks about circumstances and conditions which otherwise might come to light.


There's not enough hours in the Day so use a Senior Care Auditor to check on elderly loved ones.


There are two  ‘close cousins’ of the long distance caregiver:  One is the caregiver who is ‘sandwiched’ between work, kids, and ‘life’. The other is the hard working people who put in long, demanding, and/or unpredictable hours who simply do not have the time and energy to also spend on a loved one, no matter how much they might wish they could. Both of these people can use a certified SCA to make their lives easier.  The SCA does the job they cannot do (and probably do it even better).  This helps them feel better, and also helps the person they care about feel better.  One does not have to feel like a slacker and the other does not have to feel neglected.  It is a beautiful ‘win-win’.

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Imagine the peace of mind this service can bring to someone.

Ready to get started?  To become a Certified Senior Care Auditor you can only go to CertifiedCare.org for accredited PCA/SCA education and registry.  Yes, this is the only place providing authentic SCA certification.

To read more about Senior Care Auditing? Click on …


***   https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/why-your-workplace-might-be-killing-you              http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/03/health/stress-work-secondhand-smoke/           https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1402378/  


Posted in Caregiving Career, Caregiving Education and Credentialing, Elder Abuse and Neglect, Elder Care, Elder Care Goods and Services, Home and Health Care Agency, Professional Eldercare, Senior Care Auditing, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment