Dakota Center for Independent Living

Hiring a Home Health Care Employee

It can be difficult to hire a home health care employee. Having a stranger come into your family’s home and care for a loved one can be nerve racking, but sometimes it’s necessary. If you are a caregiver, it is important for you to care for yourself, and arrange for time away from caregiving. When you have made the decision to hire a helper, these guidelines may help you.

Gather Information:

  • Ask family, friends, neighbors, and other persons you trust for recommendations. If you know someone who utilizes a home health care service, ask them about it. This can often be the best way to gain information.
  • If you attend a support group, ask other members what resources they would recommend based on their experiences.

Decide If You Would Like to Hire Someone Through an Agency or If You Would Prefer to Hire Someone Independently:

  • Hiring someone through an agency saves time and paperwork, and may provide trustworthy satisfactory assistance; however, it will be more costly.
  • Hiring someone yourself can reduce costs, but will take time and effort. If you pay someone more than $50 a quarter, you are required by law to withhold social security benefits, and make quarterly payments to the IRS. If the person you hire is already self-employed, they should then be paying their own social security taxes.
  • It is important to weigh costs, convenience, and legal responsibilities.

Be Specific About the Job Description, Hours, Rules, and Wages:

  • Be clear about the duties of both the helper and employer. A formalized agreement is vital in the case of disputes over wages, tasks, etc.
  • Make a list of tasks and questions that meet your needs and address your particular situation.

Ask Questions, Check References:

Ask the potential employee questions such as:

  • Where have you worked before?
  • Have you ever given care to someone with dementia (or whatever the health issue may be)?
  • Why are you choosing this type of work?
  • Request references, and advise them that you will be checking references and other resources regarding their employment history and character.

Ask references questions such as:

  • How long have you known the applicant?
  • In what capacity?
  • How did they get along with you and the person for whom they provided care?
  • Were they reliable and dependable?

The Process:

  • When you decide to hire someone, show them what a typical day is like and describe your loved one’s habits. Show him/her around the house and how to use specific appliances. Don’t expect him/her to plan meals. Instead, write down menus and details. For example, write down how the person likes his/her chicken or how much sugar he/she likes in their coffee.
  • Make a list of who to call in case of emergencies and what time your loved one may require medications. Make a chart for the time of each medication and have the employee cross off when it is given. This helps to eliminate any confusion related to when a medication was dispensed.
  • If you do not live near the person who is in need of care, make sure you get the phone numbers of neighbors and friends, as well as giving them your loved one’s house keys in case of emergencies.

The Agreement:

  • Write down his/her responsibilities, salary, vacation, benefits and day that he/she will get paid. Make expectations very clear. Request that he/she give you two days’ notice if they can’t be there for specific day.
  • Let him/her know if you don’t want them to have visitors or make long distance phone calls. Spell everything out very clearly so there are no misunderstandings.
  • Put all money and jewelry in a safe. Have checks from pensions, investments, and Social Security deposited directly into an account, and do not give home health care aides access to bankbooks or finances.
  • Be sure to maintain a professional relationship. Letting him/her become a member of the family opens the door to possible exploitation, especially if you don’t live nearby and cannot monitor the situation closely.

Finding a good home health care employee is invaluable so make sure you find the right fit for you and your loved one.