Dear Family Resource,
My mom is smart as a tack but physically frail. She wants to stay home with help but in 10 months we’ve gone through four different caregivers. Either we have to fire them, (one watched TV all day and another constantly canceled or showed up late), or they quit after a month or two. This has been terrible for my mom and a serious problem for me. I work full-time and can’t fill in every time the caregiver doesn’t show up. I’ve just about had it with classified ads and grocery store bulletin boards as a source for caregivers, but I’ve heard that using an agency is extremely expensive. Do you have any ideas for us?
Seeking Caregiver

Dear Seeking,
I understand your frustration. Finding just the right caregiver can be difficult and time-consuming, and when it doesn’t work out it can range from discouraging to dangerous for the senior who depends on the assistance of a kind and reliable caregiver. I understand why you fired the two caregivers but if you don’t know why the other two quit, it would be helpful to find that out. If there is something about caring for your mom that was challenging for them, it’s important to know so any issues can be addressed both with your mom and a new caregiver.

As for finding your mom a new caregiver, people who are successfully doing it on their own generally get a referral from a friend, church group, or other trusted source. If you decide to go this route again, there are resources out there to help you set up a protocol for providing caregiving services to your mom. The Senior Services Information and Assistance office of King County have thorough and helpful information on their website or you can call them at 888-435-3377. Their online document, Options for Hiring Household Help, takes you through all the necessary steps starting with identifying your mom’s needs, deciding what tasks you want to assign to the helper and how to do them, the frequency of the visits and most helpful time of day (daily, weekly, bi-weekly, mornings, afternoons, etc.).

In addition, this info will also review possible liabilities if the helper is injured and provides sample contracts between you and the helper (you may want to consult your tax advisor about income tax and social security withholding). Above all, before you hire anyone, please ask for and check references at a minimum. You can find and hire good caregivers on your own but it can be daunting and many in your situation decide that the benefits of using an agency that checks references and credentials, does background checks, provides on-going training and supervision, and makes sure the client receives services even if the caregiver calls in sick, outweigh the additional expense that comes with using an agency.

With Family Resource Home Care, for example, your mother’s caregiver will be consistent and the care plan will be updated as your mother’s care needs change. With Family Resource Home Care we make sure you and your mother put your stamp of approval on your mother’s helper. We know how important the “chemistry” is in making homecare a success. If your caregiver isn’t quite the right fit, you can always request someone else. I know these are tough decisions, but you don’t have to figure this out on your own. It sounds like you need someone now and if you want to talk about your family’s situation, please give me a call. I’d be very happy to speak with you.

~ Family Resource