Selecting Disability Caregivers: 5 Things You Need to Know

When a loved one falls ill or suffers an injury at work, he or she may require assistance at home. If no family members are available to take care of him or her, the family or the victim may need to look for outside help. However, hiring a stranger to come into your home or the home of your loved one to provide care is not something to be done lightly. A long term disability lawyer may be able to give you some idea of costs and what can be covered by any possible lawsuits.

Those looking to hire caregivers should keep five important facts in mind when screening potential applicants:

1) Personal references are a good starting point, but they should not be the end point of the hiring process
In a sea of potential candidates and companies that staff caregivers, it is often difficult for families to decide which will provide the best level of care for their loved ones. Many families simply ask around within their social and professional circles for companies and individuals that have been used previously with success. While a personal reference that a caregiver is honest and capable is valuable.

2) Background checks are essential
By definition, caregivers care for those who are unable to care for themselves. This involves a significant disparity in power between the two. Perform a background check before hiring any caregiver. This is a mandatory step for those family members who care about their loved ones. Many sites are available which will search criminal databases for previous convictions for a low cost. Even good people make mistakes and minor indiscretions in one’s distant past should not be treated as evidence that a caregiver will perform poorly. However, recent criminal conduct, repeated criminal conduct, or any crimes of moral turpitude should result in declining to hire the candidate.

3) Caregivers must have training in providing medical care
Many caregivers apply for positions under the theory that it takes relatively little knowledge to feed people, assist them with moving about a location, or change sheets. Some caregivers do not even possess these basic skills; any caregiver who seems reluctant to provide such services should be dismissed outright from consideration.

Caregivers must also be able to provide medical care when necessary. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation training should be required for all caregivers. All caregivers should be capable of clearing an airway and trained in basic first aid. They should also be capable of providing the correct dosages of medication at the correct intervals and possess the language skills necessary to contact emergency services in the event that it becomes necessary to do so.

4) Ensure that the caregiver is properly licensed if required by your state
Many states require certain types of caregivers to possess licensing, certifications and insurance. State laws differ on the requirements and who is required to be licensed; for example, California does not require general caregivers to have licenses, but does require certification of, among other things, home health aides. The caregiver’s duties and the needs of the dependent person will dictate the licensing requirements. If the caregiver must perform medical treatment as a regular part of his or her duties, it is likely that he or she must be licensed.

5) You may be required to pay caregivers minimum wage or greater
The Obama Administration recently announced a new rule that grants certain employment related rights to in-home caregivers. Under this new rule, home care workers who are employed by third parties or who provide medical services that require training must be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 and given time and a half overtime for hours worked beyond the standard 40-hour work week.

This new rule will take effect on January 1, 2015. It does not apply to workers directly employed by the family for fellowship or protection. Paying some caregivers rates below the national minimum wage is common in some areas. However, any disability caregiver is likely to be covered under the new rule and paying such individuals below minimum wage will be unlawful. This should be factored into any budget.

These are just a few of the things that families looking for caregivers should know. The caregiver should also have a personality that is compatible with the dependent person; if the dependent person does not want to be around the caregiver because he or she is abrasive, then the relationship is likely to fail even if the caregiver is competent in the performance of his or her duties. If a candidate does not feel right for the role, family members should probably move on to the next candidate. When looking for caregivers for your loved ones, going the extra mile to ensure that you find the right match will generate better results over the long term.

Kari Lloyd has written extensively on disabilities and is passionate about the issues that people with disabilities face. She suggests that doing your research on the internet for long term disability lawyers, at sites like Marc Whitehead & Associates for example, or for your local disability charities, can give you a good idea of what services and support is available to you in your specific situation.

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