There are many reasons why a family needs a live-in caregiver. Aging parents and adult relatives with illnesses are only a few of them. Selecting the right person is extremely important, as they will share your intimacy and take care of someone vulnerable. But there’s a lot of ground to cover in order to choose someone that’s the right fit. It’s not just about qualifications and credentials, nor is it just about safety or personal compatibility. A live-in caregiver will become an important part of your family, so balance is what you need to aim for. You want someone with who you feel comfortable but also who is competent and able to care properly for your relative in need. You want someone who you can trust, who understands their responsibilities and who is able to respect your boundaries and abide by the household rules. It seems harder than finding the love of your life, right?
While a live-in caregiver may become a good friend and even feel like part of your family, remember that it is a job. Especially during the selection process. Sit down with any other family members who are involved in the decision, and craft a consistent and thorough job posting. Ask for formal applications with a resume, a cover letter, and a few references. And when you have a pool of suitable applicants, do your due diligence:
- Verify their identity
- Run a background check through CheckPeople.com to ensure you are not dealing with a known felon or sexual offender.
- Verify licenses, credentials, and certifications.
- Call and cross-check references
When you are ready to interview a few applicants, craft your interview questions carefully. The interview is your true chance to find out if someone is the right fit for your family. For example, if they will be living in a household full of children, they should be alright with a little chaos and noise. Or if you are a very religious family, they should be respectful to certain rituals and prayer moments. It definitely depends on each one’s specific needs. Don’t be shy about asking any question but keep them always relevant to the position. Also, create open-ended questions or pose some specific scenarios to understand how someone can react under pressure or significant stress.
Ask your attorney to help you craft a contract that contains anything that you think is important. It is important to have legal assistance and never leave anything to chance. Include how you will handle time off and vacations, what are the reasons for termination, which ones are valid reasons to miss a day of work, and what you offer (salary, benefits, living accommodations, meals, etc.). The contract should also include a full description of the candidate’s responsibilities.
Always set up a probation period. While it may seem that someone is perfect during the interview stages, they may end up overwhelmed by day to day responsibilities and tasks. As with any important relationship, you need some time to get acquainted and settled. Of course, you need to pay close attention to how your relative reacts and feels around their caregiver. While an adjustment period in which they show discomfort is normal, it should not last longer than two or three weeks. Pay attention to details such as tone of voice, patience, and how careful they seem when managing them. Disabled people (especially those with mental disabilities) are very vulnerable, and there are many stories of abuse, so you need to be extra careful before committing to a longer contract. This probation period should also allow the caregiver to familiarize themselves with their living arrangements
, and get to know your family before they make their final decision.
The hiring process is never easy, but it can be even more daunting when you are trying to hire someone for such an important task as caring for your loved ones. Never overlook due diligence, regardless of how nice or well recommended your candidate may be. A common mistake is to think about caregivers as different from other professionals, and while their job does require specific abilities, everything else should remain professional and legal. Finally, trust your gut. Don’t hire someone that makes you feel uncomfortable, and keep a close eye and supervision at all times.