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.
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’?
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
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