In our line of work, we often hear from seniors that they or their families are looking to hire a caregiver through an online directory or off of a Registry list. The issue with this is that they don’t understand what they are getting into by doing this. Sometimes people don’t understand the difference between a Nurse Registry and a Home Care Agency, and the lower price is the main reason for the attraction.
There are a number of online directories and registries available, and because they have large corporate budgets they are highly “search engine optimized”. These directories come up frequently even when you are actually searching for home care agencies in your local area. It is very easy to become confused as to what you are actually getting involved with in your online search.
Even if the senior or their family understands that hiring off of a registry means they themselves become the employer, they still may not fully understand all of the implications of this decision.
Our previous Article, Private Caregivers: Independent Contractors or Employees? described the legal and financial risks that one takes by hiring a caregiver privately – and there are many! But there are other considerations as well such as:
- Screening – Anyone can say they are a “nurse”. A lot of people don’t know the difference between an aide, nursing assistant, and nurse. In the state of Virginia there are only certain credentials that actually qualify someone to be considered suitable for licensed home care. When you are hiring privately, you are unlikely to know the difference or to be able to verify the credentials. If you hire a caregiver without the proper stills to meet the needs of the client, this becomes a very risky situation.
- Accountability – In a private hire situation, there is little to no recourse if they do not show up for a shift, and there is rarely a back-up plan when this occurs. There is no management other than yourself to help resolve issues when they come up and routinely evaluate your caregiver’s performance.
- Background Transparency – Background checks can be confusing, expensive and time consuming. If you do not perform one at all you are taking a big risk allowing a stranger in your home. And just like credentialing, there are many different types and levels of backgrounds checks that licensed agencies routinely do, which include information a basic local background check would not uncover.
- Ongoing supervision and training – Agencies are required to provide ongoing supervision and training of the caregivers they employ. This means continuing education to hone their skills and address areas needed for improvement. In a private hire situation, a caregiver is solely responsible for keeping up with his or her training and keeping licenses active and credentials up to date and quite often these things fall to the wayside.
So when you are faced with hiring a caregiver for yourself or a loved one, consider the implications of a private hire and despite the fact that it may be cheaper, consider first the immense amount of added security and support that using a licensed agency provides.
About the Author: Pam Reynolds, CMC is the President and co-owner of Allegiance Aging Care Services. Pam has spent almost fifteen years working in senior care including long term care facilities and home health care. Her higher education is in Social Work, and she has been credentialed as both a certified Geriatric Care Manager and Licensed Assisted Living Administrator. Read more about Pam and her team of Aging Care Professionals here.