Considering a Caregiver? Here’s What You Need to Know
To some, the idea of employing a professional caregiver seems like a luxury. To others, though, it is a necessity.
If you have little to no medical experience, live in a different city from your loved one, or work full time, then you might not have the ability to be a family caregiver. Your family member might not be at the point where they need to go into a nursing home or assisted living facility. Or, you might just be choosing to keep them at home, for whatever reason.
This is where a professional caregiver can come into the picture.
Searching for the right caregiver
While searching for a caregiver, it is imperative that you spend the time and do the work necessary to ensure you’re hiring someone who will be suitable and appropriate to give your loved one the care they need.
The person you hire as a caregiver needs to be someone you can trust. After all, for them to do their jobs, without constantly consulting you, you’ll probably need to provide them: a Medicare ID number (same as social security), prescription drug info, credit card details, and automobile access. This is not to say you have to give up all this information, but if you truly need your caregiver to act on their own, then it is the easiest way to do things.
I’m not saying this to scare anyone away from hiring a caregiver, but to make sure you know there needs to be a deep level of trust between the you, the caregiver, and the patient. You will also want to know if your caregiver has any other clients and, if so, you will need a backup plan. Even caregivers get sick, need to take time off, or have situations arise where they can’t make it. If you have a backup plan, you will feel much more at ease leaving your loved one at home.
Also, you want to hire a caregiver who addresses the whole patient: someone who understands they are taking care of a human and not a pet or a machine. You need a caregiver who is experienced, kind, thoughtful, attentive, a good note-taker, organized, and physically capable. You need a caregiver who won’t simply address the medical condition, but who will address the entire person, and communicate your loved one’s needs to you in a clear manner.
After you have hired the caregiver, you will need to set limits, expectations, and goals for your loved one’s physical care and personal life.
What will your caregiver actually do?
The professional caregiver must be able to perform a wide variety of tasks and fill a number of different roles. Depending on the unique needs of your loved one, your caregiver might be responsible for:
- driving and transportation coordination,
- physical rehabilitation;
- property upkeep;
- housekeeping and laundry;
- infection control and sanitation;
- living space risk assessment;
- wound care and prevention;
- and much, much more
Equipment to keep your loved one and caregiver safe
In addition, the caregiver will need to perform certain functions, such as lifting and transferring the patient, which — for their own safety — require special tools and equipment. Here is a list of items your caregiver might need to safely perform their job:
- a ceiling lift;
- stand assists: commode rails, automatic or electric chair lifts, etc.;
- bath safety equipment: bedside commodes, shower chairs or benches, shower sprayers, etc.;
- a bed with moving parts, designed for lifting and lowering the patient;
- sliding sheets and turning slings for the bed;
- wheelchairs and ramps;
- powered transportation: motorized scooters or motorized wheelchairs;
- walking aids: walkers, canes, and ramps; and
- a total floor lift.
These pieces of equipment do much more than make your caregiver’s job easier. Most importantly, they protect both your loved one and the caregiver from injury. You are the caregiver’s employer and, as such, it’s important that you keep them safe from injury.
Even lifting as much as 30 pounds in a stooped-over position can put a person at risk for back injury. According to a 2012 study by The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP: “Seventy percent of working caregivers suffer work-related difficulties due to their dual caregiving roles.”
Additionally, if you’ve hired a caregiver for your loved one, because you can’t stay with them yourself; you must not risk that caregiver becoming injured. It defeats the entire purpose of having someone there to help and work!
SuLauren Wilson is the founder of Finnegan Medical Supply, an online medical supply store based in Little Rock, Ark. She blogs regularly on issues affecting the company’s patients. Although, she has many years of experience in the healthcare industry, she is not a licensed medical professional, and the content of her posts should not be considered medical advice.