Lorraine has twenty-eight years of experiencing in finding, hiring, and working with caregivers. Lorraine was born with cerebral palsy and is a full-time wheelchair user. Once she transitioned out of the care of her parents and family, and onto a life in college, Lorraine began hiring caregivers on her own. “It was a daunting prospect back then, and in many ways it still is,” shares Lorraine.
Here are some tips she has discovered along the way to help others who find themselves in a situation where they need to hire a caregiver.
1. Outline the tasks that need to be done.
“What did I need a caregiver to do for me? That was not as easy to figure out as it might sound.”
Break down all of the daily activities you need assistance with. That way it will be easier for you to explain to someone else what needs to be done each shift.
2. Decide whether you want a male or female caregiver or if you are open to either one.
Lorraine had had only female caregivers for a long time, but she recently began considering hiring a male. “Guys are typically stronger than girls so they would have an easier time doing things like lifting my wheelchair in and out of a car or helping me with various stretches I do in order to reduce the spasms in my body,” shares Lorraine. “On the other hand, I need caregivers to help me with intimate things like getting in and out of the shower. Could I be that vulnerable with a guy? Would the dynamic be different? The answers are different for everyone.” These are necessary questions to ask yourself before you begin your caregiver search.
3. Where can I find a caregiver?
Lorraine has several suggestions: “When I am short-staffed, I tell lots of friends that I am looking. I advertise on Craigslist. Since I live in a college town, I contact professors that advise student groups on campus like the pre nursing club and pre physical therapy.” Former caregivers are another source to turn to, as they may know of someone looking for similar work.
4. Start the interview process.
Once Lorraine has people interested in the position, she prefers to communicate via email rather than give out her phone number initially. She creates a detailed list of duties and emails it to potential caregivers, along with questions about the schedule and hours they are looking for. Once she’s found a good fit, Lorraine arranges an interview.
“I learned a long time ago to offer several times that I am available, and ask them to pick which of those times works for them. When I have done that, several people have told me that I had to work around their schedule for an interview. That is a big red flag for me. If they cannot accommodate my needs for an interview, they probably won’t be a good caregiver.”
Lorraine also suggests asking specific questions that can be answered with a real-life example rather than open-ended, vague questions. She prefers to ask, “Can you tell me about the most difficult situation you dealt with in your last job,” rather than “Why do you want this job?”
5. Ask the new caregiver to shadow the old one.
Job shadowing is helpful for both Lorraine and the new caregiver. “[It] means that I am not asking a caregiver to start working without having some idea of what to do.”
6. Be organized in your approach.
Lastly, Lorraine says she creates a caregiver packet that she gives to each new hire that contains her specific policies. These include clearly stated expectations that help to keep the employer/employee relationship intact.
Share this with someone looking to hire a caregiver!