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Hiring a Home-Care Aide: The Right Questions to Ask

Classie Morant, 104, swore that as long as she had strength, she would care for her bedridden sister, Rozzie Laney, 92. For more than 20 years, she has kept that promise.

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

BEFORE YOU HIRE: Does your elderly relative need a companion? A driver? Assistance with bathing, dressing and using the toilet? A live-in helper? Should you seek a professional assessment of the elder's needs by a social worker or a geriatric care manager?

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IF YOU HIRE AN AIDE THROUGH AN AGENCY: Does the agency screen its workers, check their employment histories, run criminal background checks, do drug testing? Do supervisors stop by unannounced to see employees in action? Do the aides have appropriate certifi cates and training? Will the same aide be assigned each day? What sort of backup is available if an aide gets sick or quits unexpectedly? If you are unhappy with the aide's work, will the agency promptly send another? Is the aide an employee who has workers' comp and liability insurance, or does the agency operate more as a referral service that provides no coverage or other benefi ts? Can you call previous clients as references? Who handles complaints or problems?

IF YOU HIRE A HOME-CARE AIDE PRIVATELY: What training or experience has the aide had? Can she provide references? Should you run a background check? Are you prepared to handle the paperwork, paying Social Security taxes, workers' comp and liability insurance? Are you or a family member ready to step in if an aide can't get to work, gets sick, takes a vacation? Have you set up rules about everything from whether the aide can give medicine to whether she can share food from the refrigerator? Are you prepared to meet with the aide, perhaps after a trial month, to discuss any problems and changes?

HOWEVER YOU HIRE: Will family members and friends be able to drop in at unpredictable times to monitor the client's care?

FOR MORE INFORMATION, search under home care at these Web sites:

AARP: www.aarp.org

Family Caregiver Alliance: www.caregiver.org

Since You Care guide: www.metlife.com/mmi/publications

-- Paula Span

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