CHOOSING A CAREGIVER: AGENCY OR PRIVATE?Category:
CHOOSING A CAREGIVER: AGENCY OR PRIVATE?
By: John Mason, owner of BrightStar Care San Fernando Valley
When a loved one needs help, and you’re not able to do it yourself anymore, what do you do? If you’ve never hired someone to help you in the home, it can seem like a daunting task. You want to pick the right person but are confused and overwhelmed by the long list of things to consider. Here are a few questions to help you make a good decision.
WHO IS THE EMPLOYER? When you hire someone privately, you are the employer. This comes with some responsibilities. California has strict labor laws on paying overtime, sick paid time off, and allowing a leave of absence. Be sure you are aware of these if you plan to hire and pay privately. If you choose an agency, ask if their employees are W2 or 1099. W2 employees work for the agency; 1099 employees are contracted and will become your employees once they step into your home.
Another issue with the “who is the employer” question is insurance. The biggest concern is an employee getting injured in your home. If you are the employer, check your homeowner’s policy to see if it covers employees in your home. If you go with an agency, ask if they have workers comp, general liability, and professional liability insurance.
WHO IS THIS PERSON COMING INTO MY HOME? When hiring privately, check the California Home Care registry to see if the person is listed. California requires all caregivers to register, although not all do. If they are on the registry, you can see the results of their background check and learn more about the person coming into your home. Most agencies require a background check, drug test, and physical. Ask the agency if they require these documents for hire and what their process is for screening caregivers.
WHAT IF THE CAREGIVER CAN’T MAKE IT? Reliability is important when hiring someone for a loved one. This is a hard one to answer, as some people start out reliable, then something happens, and they suddenly change. If you are hiring privately, be sure to interview the caregiver and explain your needs to see if they are a good fit. Also, make a plan with local family and friends to fill in if your caregiver calls out sick or quits suddenly. If you hire an agency, ask about their shift coverage and response time for last-minute call-offs. This issue is a big one, particularly if you work full time or do not live close to your loved one.
There are lots of things to consider when making this very important decision. Generally, hiring privately will cost less, but you take on some risk as an employer. Hiring an agency brings a higher cost but takes you out of the employer role. A good agency should also provide nurse supervision and training for employees, along with a strong pool of backup caregivers when you need them.
Good luck in your search – it is certainly worth the effort. Keeping your loved one at home with a good person to help will bring great peace of mind to you and those you love
John Mason, a Brightstar Care affiliate, is a member of the Wellness Village since September 2018. His agency is located in Van Nuys, CA. PRO has received only high marks for the services of him and his caregivers.
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