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Some people hire a home health aide or a personal assistant through an agency. Some prefer to hire direct, perhaps using a company such as www.team-risk.com to handle tax, Social Security, workmen’s compensation and liability insurance. Either way, it pays to do an independent investigation as well as have a trial period, checkups and backups. Not everyone is a good fit.

Not everyone is right for the job. In my work as an elder lawyer, I have encountered home health aides and personal assistants working for nursing homes, for agencies and for individuals. Some were well-educated. Most were undertrained. All were underpaid, increasing the temptation to steal. Some were devoted and compassionate. Some had too many other responsibilities, causing them to be inattentive or to have to miss work frequently. Still others were intellectually disabled, able to follow rules but not to improvise in an emergency, or recovering addicts, tempted by an elder’s medications. At least one suffered from a serious mental illness, affecting her perception and reporting of events and of her own condition and that of others.

7 tips to consider when hiring a home health aide or personal assistant

  1. A criminal record check;
  2. A background check for a history of bad credit and broken leases;
  3. References;
  4. Two interviews;
  5. Drop in visits and calls;
  6. Records and record checks, including certifications and complaints; and
  7. A back up plan — even the best caregiver can get the flu.

For an extensive list of public and private resources available for older Americans and family caregivers, check out our resources. Both pages have an option to download as a PDF.

Resources for Older Americans
Resources for Family Caregivers

Terry Garrett is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is active in the Texas and Austin Bar Associations. She graduated with honors from Cornell University. She was on the Dean’s List at Wharton Business School. She earned her J.D. at Columbia Law School, receiving the Parker Award and a Mellon Fellowship.

She assists families of people with special needs, people planning for the retirement years and people administering estates.

 

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