Individuals with disabilities or family members may reach a point when they realize they need help at home. Signs include constant supervision and/or assistance with everyday activities, such as bathing and dressing or certain housekeeping routines and running errands. It may become apparent that in order to take care of any business outside the home, a caregiver is required.
A number of options are available for finding help at home. In general, consider the following areas:
Personal Care: bathing, eating, dressing, toileting
Household Care: cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping
Health Care: medication management, physician's appointments, physical therapy
Emotional Care: companionship, meaningful activities, conversation
This assessment will enable you to determine if a home health aide is needed or a more skilled professional, such as a registered nurse (RN), nurse practitioner (NP), physical therapist, or occupational therapist. You should also consider alternative (and possibly less expensive) approaches to care such as friendly visiting services, volunteers, home grocery delivery, pharmacy delivery services and meals-on-wheels programs.
Once the types of help you need are identified, writing a job description can be helpful. In addition to including the tasks you have identified from your assessment, be sure to include the following when and if appropriate:
- Health care training (what level and what type – CNA, LVN, RN)
- Driving (car needed or only valid driver's license)
- Ability to lift care recipient and/or operate special equipment
- Experience with people with memory impairments and/or other disabilities
- Language skills
- Any other special skills needed
At this point, you have the option of hiring an individual or going through a home care or home health care agency. In some states, publicly- funded programs may allow you to hire another family member to assist you in providing care at home. Home care agencies recruit, train, pay, supervise, and are responsible for the care provided by the aide they send to your home. These agencies are usually licensed by the state and you can locate an agency through the National Association for Home Care and Hospice at: www.nahc.org/Tango/HCLocator/locator.html. However, often several workers are used which can be confusing or distressing for the person receiving care. There is less individual choice in selecting the aide and agencies are more expensive than privately hiring an individual. With privately hiring a home care worker, you can choose the person you think will be the best at providing care and you are able to find, hire, train, pay, and supervise an aide yourself