When families need help caring for their elderly loved ones, they can turn to caregiver agencies or directly hire a private, independent home health worker. Both approaches carry pros and cons, so families must consider the situation carefully to determine which option is best for them.

Caregiver agencies are licensed, regulated organizations that recruit, screen, hire and train caregivers before assigning them to clients. Agencies also provide insurance, liability protection and bonding. Families and seniors are often more comfortable with agency-provided caregivers because they’ve been vetted, criminal background checked, drug tested and certified. Agencies also have a whole armada of caregivers, which means that if a client’s regular caregiver isn’t available at a given time due to illness or a family vacation, another agency caregiver can be reassigned immediately.

The downside of hiring a caregiver through an agency is that the family generally pays more for the service. In addition, the agency takes a percentage and handles all payroll, taxes and benefits. Family members who hire independent caregivers often find it challenging to establish a good relationship with the care recipient. They must also manage the entire payroll process, including interviewing and screening, managing taxes and withholdings, and providing backup coverage if the caregiver needs to take a leave of absence or be absent for any reason.

Regardless of which route a family chooses, it’s important to remember that a new caregiver must be trained to meet the patient’s specific needs. Having a detailed plan of care that includes goals, tasks and activities can ensure that the caregiver is providing the highest level of service possible to the client/patient. caregiver agency hiring

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