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Risks In Hiring Private Pay Caregivers Instead of a Home Care Agency Caregiver
When you hire a private pay caregiver, you become an employer, and the caregiver becomes a household employee. Below are several responsibilities, as an employer, you need to take into consideration:
- Verify that your (or your loved one’s) home owner’s insurance will cover the employee in case of an accident. If it doesn’t, your agent may have further suggestions to cover liability issues. If not, you may need to consult an attorney.
- If you don’t already have experience with payroll, it’s imperative that you become fully informed of the legalities in paying taxes for household employees. You are legally responsible for withholding Social Security taxes, Medicare taxes, federal unemployment taxes, and filing them with the I.R.S. An accountant can teach you how to do payroll, or help get you set up with a payroll software system. Or, you can hire the accountant to do the payroll.
- Federal law requires that you always have on hand, an I-9 form. This is a form the employee fills out, and has notarized. The purpose of the form is to verify that they’re legally eligible to be employed in the U.S.
Supervising Your Employee
Once you’ve hired a private caregiver, it’s too easy to slip into the back ground and have the caregiver take over the responsibility for caring for your loved one. This temptation, when given into, tends to lead to unforeseen problems:
- Exploitation and/or abuse: Elder exploitation and/or abuse by the caregiver can occur anytime a caregiver is in a private home setting, with little or no supervision. This is more common when the elder’s family isn’t in physical proximity regularly, relying too heavily on the caregiver.
- Elder’s needs are unmet: Your elder’s needs change, and if you’re not regularly involved in care planning, their needs may not be getting met. It’s important to reassess and reevaluate your loved one’s plan of care often, with the caregiver.
- Your private duty caregiver is beginning to suffer from burnout: If you’re relying only on one caregiver, they, like everyone else, are prone to burnout. This will lead to a high turnover rate and can begin a slippery slope for neglect and abuse of your elder.
Stay involved. The goal is to prevent problems, rather than react to them. Even after hiring a private duty caregiver, supervision is important. Not only must you attentively monitor care, but you must also keep the lines of communication open with your loved one’s caregiver. This allows them to call day or night to communicate any concerns they may be having about your loved one. It’s also important to have a regular meeting time with your loved one and caregiver, ideally every 30 days. This creates a regular time to evaluate the performance of your employee, discuss changes in care, and address any concerns.
If all of this seems like a lot of work, it is. An alternative is letting a home care agency do all of this for you. A home care agency may charge a little more per hour, but what they have to offer is long term cost savings, safety, and peace of mind. In addition, by doing all the legwork for you, they free up time, so you can spend more quality time with your loved one.
Which alternative do you favor? Why?