Let's Talk: Caregiver Management

There may come a time when your current care situation may not fit your needs anymore. You may become more or less independent, your living situation changes, family members currently caring for you are unable to do so, or a current caregiver may decide to move in a different direction. Regardless of the reason, finding the perfect team to help you maximize your independence and to help you lead a full and thriving life does not have to be a stressful process! These are 5 simple key things I try to keep in consideration when creating and managing my team of caregivers.

Know my needs.
No one is going to know how to take better care of myself than myself. Take charge of your care and be clear on what you need help with so you can get the proper services delivered to you and your life can consistently move forward smoothly. Depending on your needs you may require a licensed professional to perform certain duties (especially if hiring through an agency). Assess your daily routine and decide if you need help with using the restroom, bathing, dressing, meal prep, laundry, housekeeping, driving, errand running, doctors’ appointments, etc. Also be clear if you need assistance with transfers. Know your height, weight, level of dependence, what surfaces you will need transferring to (ie. Bed, bathtub, floor, shower chair) and what assistive devices you use to perform these transfers (ie. Hoyer lift, slide board, sling, gait belt). Lastly, know when you need help and for how long. Be specific about which days, hours, shifts are you needing. The more in tune you are with what you need, the easier it will be for you to ask and get what you want!

Identify my means of payment.
Whether you use private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, worker’s compensation, In Home Support Services, or you pay out of pocket, it is essential that you know how to access payment funds and the monthly amount you are allotted. Caregivers need to know that you are a consistent and reliable source of compensation for their services, just as you need to know that they too are consistent and reliable.

Identify where I can find help.
I like to use Craigslist and Care.com, but there are also a lot of agencies and organizations available. Posting ads at churches, nursing schools, and student job boards are good sources of finding help. Word of mouth is also a great way to find help through someone you may already know and trust.

Create a hiring and training process. First, I place my advertisement and then assess their written response to decide whether I want to move forward with a phone interview. During the initial phone call, I describe the job in more detail and assess our interaction with each other. If I feel this person could potentially be a good fit, I invite them to an in person working interview. During this interview I can assess their punctuality and get a better feel for their personality. Because I am a fully dependent transfer, I have one of my caregivers demonstrate a transfer a couple times and then have the candidate try. If they are not able to do it, then the interview stops there. If I decide to proceed forward in the hiring process, then I invite the candidate to come and train. On day one of training the candidate is shadowing and taking notes. On day two of training the candidate is 100% hands on with one of my current caregivers shadowing them if they need assistance. At this point we discuss whether this new team member is ready to fly solo or if one more day of training is needed. This process is extremely individual and there is no one perfect way to do it, so find what works best for you.

Continuously work on my communication skills.
A major part of my relationship with my caregivers depends on good communication. Some aspects of communication I try to implement are speaking clearly, I try not to emotionally react, using please and thank you goes a long way, showing appreciation, and remembering that caregivers are not perfect nor am I.

Creating a dynamite care team can seem a little daunting, but I assure you that once a system is in place the process can run smoothly and efficiently. Please know that you are worthy of the best care and a good fit for your circumstances. There are people out there that will be great for you and the assistance will definitely enhance your quality of life.
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