If you are in the market to hire a caregiver to assist you in caring for your elderly loved one, you have doubtless wondered about ensuring that you are getting a quality person who will treat your loved one with the same care and attention that you do. Here are the top seven basic things to ask when you are interviewing potential hires.
1. Do you smoke?
While this may be an uncomfortable question, but it is very important, especially if your loved one has breathing issues. Asthma, emphysema, and similar conditions can all be aggravated by smoke, even if the caregiver is not smoking in your loved one's home. If the caregiver steps out for a smoke and comes back in, the smoke clinging to his or her clothing and hair could be enough to trigger a response in your loved one. Of course, if your loved one is a smoker, this question is a non-issue.
2. What kind of formal medical training do you have?
Caregiving is not the same as working as an emergency medical technician. The training that caregivers are required to take varies from state to state, but in some places it is not even required that they have any formal medical training. It's good to know if the caregiver you are considering knows CPR or first aid.
3. Can you adjust your schedule if necessary?
Life is nothing if not unpredictable. Thus, if you are hiring a caregiver, you need to know if he or she will be able to cover for you in the event that you unexpectedly need to leave town, work late, or something similar. This isn't to say that a "no" answer to this question needs to be a deal breaker, but you need to know whether you will have to make other arrangements for someone to provide care for your loved one if something happens and you cannot be there at your normal time.
4. What is your work history?
It's important to know whether a potential caregiver has any experience in providing care to an elderly or invalid patient. Of course everyone must start somewhere, and a lack of experience does not mean that the caregiver will not do a good job, but it is something you should know about nonetheless. In addition, you should contact old employers--especially if your prospective caregiver worked for them in the capacity of a caregiver--and find out about work history, temperament, dependability, and honesty.
5. How are you with pets?
This only applies if your loved one has pets, but it's an issue that is often overlooked. If your loved one has cats, and you hire a caregiver who is allergic to cats, you're wasting everyone's time. Likewise if the caregiver is deathly afraid of large dogs and your loved one has a mastiff, this is something you need to know about before the caregiver shows up for his or her first day of work.
6. Are you able to lift heavy weights?
This question is relevant if your elderly loved one will need assistance getting out of bed, bathing, and so on. You need to know if the caregiver is able to provide the required help, and you cannot always tell that just by looking at a person.
7. How long do you anticipate staying at this job?
If your loved one needs a long-term care provider, it's probably better if you can get someone who will be able to be there for the long run. You don't want to have to constantly re-train caregivers, and your loved one will appreciate the stability that comes from having the same caregiver.
The decision to hire a caregiver to come help you take care of an elderly loved one is never easy. However, if this is what is best for you and your family, using an outside caregiver can provide significant relief to you and help you be able to provide the best care you can to your loved one. By asking these and other questions you can help find the best caregiver for you and your loved one.
Colmer, Rebecca. (n.d.). Top 25 Interview Questions You Should Ask a Potential Caregiver. Seniors Resource Guide. Available at http://www.seniorsresourceguide.com/articles/art00980.html. Last visited December 12, 2015.
Elderlawanswers.com (website). 12 Interview Questions to Ask an In-Home Aide. Available at http://www.elderlawanswers.com/12-interview-questions-to-ask-an-in-home-aide-9730. Last visited December 12, 2015.