Finding the Right Caregiver
Here at Caregiver Connection we’ve been Portland, Oregon’s top choice for independent caregivers since 1998, referring qualified caregiver candidates for clients needing care for themselves, for aging seniors and elderly parents, for individuals who are disabled or recovering from medical events, and many other unique situations where assistance is required.
Over the years, we’ve learned a lot! We’re happy to share our experiences in hopes that it will help you to find a great caregiver for your unique situation, whether you live in Portland or anywhere else.
How do I find the right caregiver?
We suggest you begin the process of looking for a caregiver by making a list of the specific types of assistance you’ll want. The right caregiver will appreciate this type of clarity, be able to make helpful suggestions and be willing to help you to do things your way.
Here at Caregiver Connection, caregiver candidates are pre-screened and evaluated on skills and qualities including personality, taking initiative, and being good team players.
Here are some examples you might include in your list of caregiving duties; add others that are specific to your situation and needs.
- Personal care: Bathing, feeding, dressing, toileting, nail care, grooming, transferring
- Household care: Meal planning, cooking, changing bed linens, home cleaning, laundry, shopping
- Health care: Medication assistance, physicians’ appointments, light exercise
- Social Engagement: Companionship or personally meaningful activities such as going for walks, reading aloud, playing cards or board games, watching game shows or movies, conversational topics, arts & crafts, listening to music, going to church or group meetings, etc.
- Other: Pet care, transportation and/or assistance with errands, record keeping for a daily log of of activities and medications
Be clear if there are specific ways you’d like things done; for example, in doing laundry, make note if you want dark colors and light colors washed separately.
Also consider wages, which will vary based on the types of care being provided and the location your care recipient lives in.
Caregiver Connection informally tracks rates for in-home caregiving services within the Portland, Oregon Metro area; find our assessment of current local Portland caregiver rates here.
Determine the type of caregiver referral process that works best for you.
There are three popular ways to find a caregiver. Understanding how each type of caregiver referral process works will help you to hire the right person to care for you or your loved one.
- Licensed Caregiver Registries, such as Caregiver Connection, that are locally owned and operated, and refer screened caregiver candidates for direct hire through a personalized broker;
- Licensed In-Home Care Agencies that employ and supervise caregivers, such as franchises like Home Instead, Visiting Angels and Comfort Keepers;
- Non-licensed Internet-Based Services, in which the consumer is responsible for searching via websites such as Craigslist and care.com to locate independent caregivers.
Each type of caregiver service has a different approach to locate, qualify, place and compensate caregiver candidates. Learning the differences between these caregiver services can help you decide what will work best for you.
Help! I need a caregiver on short notice!
Hiring through a local caregiver registry with a personalized broker, such as Caregiver Connection in the Portland Metro area, can shorten the process of finding a reliable caregiver in two ways:
- a Caregiver Registry can often refer a caregiver right away, including same-day or next-day, unlike an in-home care agency which must assess the care receiver in person prior to start of service, a process which can take a day or two
- a Caregiver Registry has a ready pool of caregiver candidates who can often respond on short notice, unlike an internet-based search, which takes time and means sorting through pages of profiles from scratch
In urgent cases, we at Caregiver Connection do our best to have caregivers contact you directly right away to make arrangements.
For longer-term situations, many Caregiver Connection clients prefer to meet the caregiver in advance to determine whether the caregiver is a personal fit and establish a level of trust.
Learn more about how to locate a caregiver in the Portland, Oregon area here.
How to interview an in-home caregiver
Before the interview, fully understand the terms and criteria commonly used to assess and describe caregiver qualifications, including licensed, bonded, insured, You'll find a handy glossary here.
Hiring through a local caregiver registry with a personalized broker such as Caregiver Connection in the Portland Metro area, can provide reassurance that the candidates you’re interviewing have already met important criteria such as location, skills and availability.
Caregiver Connection’s thorough screening procedure can save you time and provide you with confidence as you conduct caregiver interviews. We use a 6-part process, and select for experience, caregiving skills and “soft skills” such as warmth, empathy, kindness and communication skills via our Caregiver Quiz and 4 hours of in-person conversations. Most of our caregivers are CNA’s or have nursing assistant-level backgrounds. And we’re especially proud that many of our caregivers have been working with Caregiver Connection for 5 years, 10 years or even more!
Caregiver Connection pre-screens our caregiver candidates for the following:
- National criminal background check every 3 years
- Driving record history every 3 years
- Auto insurance verified every 3 years
- References are checked
- Ongoing client feedback
- Experience is verified in a 3-part interview process
When you meet caregiver candidates, have other involved family members and the care receiver participate in the interview. As you converse, watch any interactions between the caregiver and the care receiver: is the care receiver included in responses?
Here are a few sample questions to customize as appropriate for your unique situation:
- What is your favorite kind of client? And conversely, your least favorite kind of client?
As brokers, Caregiver Connection matches caregivers with clients, taking into account factors including client preferences. For example, you might say: "I would like a caregiver who can cook a square meal," or, "I would like a quiet caregiver that doesn't mind helping around the house," or "I would like a caregiver that has hospice experience and will walk my dog.” We then contact available candidates, and put you in touch with each other.
- How do you deal with a client living with (add in your specific issue here: hospice, memory problems, declining mobility, recovery from a medical event, etc.)
Caregiver Connection caregivers typically will observe their clients, ask questions, and may offer helpful suggestions as they get to know you and the care receiver.
- Is there anything in the job description that may make you uncomfortable?
- If meal preparation is a requirement: Describe your experience preparing meals.
- If companionship it a requirement: Share some of the care receiver's interests and ask the caregiver to describe some of theirs.
- If transferring is a requirement: What is your experience transferring someone from a bed or chair into a wheelchair?
- If transportation is a requirement: Do you have a car? Or, are you willing to drive a vehicle we provide? Will you provide proof of insurance and a current driver's license?
- If you are hiring for a loved one: What are your preferred means of communicating with me, as the employer? (Note: caregivers may ask to be compensated for after-hours communication such as e-mailing and texting.)
- What is your availability for working, both days and hours?
Caregiver Connection provides you with caregiver candidates that fit your needs for availability prior to referral.
Check references to verify previous employment.
Caregiver Connection provides only caregiver candidates with verified work references prior to referral, so you can concentrate on finding a caregiver that suits your needs. We can furnish you with a copy of our reference-checking notes upon request.
Keep in mind that a caregivers' experience in the field is cumulative and valuable. For instance, working in assisted living or nursing homes, caregivers receive frequent in-servicing. Working in the home setting, they may learn from visiting nurses. Nursing assistant training (C.N.A.) or similar background is the general type of background that we generally screen for.
- If a caregiver is interviewing, they are probably looking for work in more than one place; don’t wait too long to make an offer and establish a start date.
Unlike an In-Home Care Agency that employs its caregivers, Caregiver Connection's independent caregiver candidates are free to negotiate both duties and compensation directly with you.
Hiring your in-home caregiver
While not required, you may wish to write up a simple agreement to formalize and clarify expectations. Simply list the job description, wages, reimbursements, grounds for termination, and any other expectations, as well as space for signatures and date. Provide a copy to your caregiver for his or her records.
Caregiver Connection’s independent caregiver candidates are free to negotiate all terms of the caregiving arrangement directly with you, with no agency restrictions. Many only consider written agreements necessary for complex care or long-term arrangements.
Your responsibilities as an employer of an independent caregiver
Legal and financial considerations exist for all employers. These are important concerns, but they need not be overwhelming; resources and assistance are available.
- Check your renter’s or homeowner’s insurance to see that it covers household employees.
- Understand the value and limitations of caregiver qualifications such as licensed, bonded and liability-insured.
- Be informed about your state and federal tax responsibilities as an employer.
Communication tips for a great caregiver experience
When you find the right caregiver, they are worth their weight in gold. Excellent care giving is based on clear expectations and open, honest communication between you, the caregiver, and the care receiver. Changes in the care routine should be discussed as they evolve. Schedule times to personally check in with your caregiver to discuss concerns, as well as to share appreciation and praise, which will help to foster a positive working relationship.