More About Hiring Caregivers: From An Insider's Point of ViewCategory: Newsworthy Notes
Eileen Lynch, PRO Director of Operations
At some point in your journey with Parkinson’s, you might need to hire in-home caregivers to assist you with anything from bathing and grooming to medication compliance, transportation, meal prep, companionship, or simply to give your family caregiver a break. While it might seem tempting to find a home caregiver on your own, consider time, taxes, insurance, your own personal safety when making your decision, and legal liabilities that you may not be aware of. If you are not educated about “hiring”, you could fall into a dangerous and potentially expensive situation. To protect yourself legally and financially while pursuing the highest quality of care, here are some nuggets to consider:
Referral Agencies v. Employee-based Home Care Agencies
Referral agencies operate like a clearing house. They help you find the right in-home care provider, for which they receive a one-time fee, and you must “employ”. Think of it like a matchmaker.
Employee-based in-home care agencies directly employ in-home care providers. They handle payroll, payroll taxes, licensure, bonding, and generally background checks – you pay to access the caregiver, not to employ them.
Who is responsible for running a background check? How extensive is that background check? Is the caregiver licensed? Is the caregiver insured? If you hire independent contractors, what responsibility falls on you? Are you calling them independent contractors, where under the law they possibly are considered employees? If you’ve misjudged, what are those consequences? If you go through an agency, make sure you ask about their hiring practices, ask for a certificate of insurance, and check the references of the Agency. PRO vets the Caregiver Agencies one finds in our Wellness Village.
Taxes, Workers Compensation, and Insurance
Employee-based home care agencies carry workers compensation and handle taxes and insurance for their employees. The company you want to work with must have extensive insurance, including Professional and General Liability, Non-Owned Auto, a Dishonesty Bond and Worker’s Compensation policies. If you hire an independent contractor, you may need to also hire an accountant, elder law attorney, or others to help with payroll and other human resource requirements.
Training, Supervision, and Replacement
Training and supervision are crucial to maintain high quality care. A good agency will have transparency about their training program. They will also handle personnel issues–if a caregiver starts showing up late, slacking on duties, etc. Sometimes, a caregiver gets sick, or goes on vacation, or something comes up and they can’t come in. At that point, you want to know your agency’s replacement policy – will they be able to quickly supply a replacement caregiver of similar caliber?
If you hire your caregiver as an independent contractor, it’s your responsibility to ensure that the caregiver is compensated properly for hours worked, including overtime pay. Incorrectly calculating overtime pay could make you vulnerable to lawsuits and other risks.
The decision about who to allow into your home to care for yourself or your loved one is huge – but you don’t have to do it alone. At Parkinson’s Resource Organization, we help people with Parkinson’s and their Partners in Care through emotional support, education, and practical resources. Our support groups provide solidarity and community to people facing the fight of their lives. Our Wellness Village Resource Directory is a digital portfolio of pooled resources to ease the research burden and maximize quality of life. Are you living with Parkinson’s? Get in touch!