Home care agency’s high turnover bothers seniors – InForum

Dear Carol: My mother needs help with bathing and some daily chores. So we hired an agency to provide four hours of home care a day. Our problem is the constant turnover of staff. Most new people are fine, but each new caregiver should be trained in Mom’s preferences and needs. From Mom’s perspective, another stranger in her home is upsetting. Are some organizations more likely to retain caregivers than others? How about hiring privately? This turnover is difficult for both of us as I have to take time off work to fill in for missing caregivers. -THIS.

Dear EC: Lack of consistency is naturally difficult for older people. Who wants strangers coming into their house to help them shower? Unfortunately, understaffing has been an issue for years, and of course, after our intense COVID challenges, this issue escalated.

You could, as you suggested, change agencies, and that might be a good option. Consider this carefully, however, if you’re otherwise happy with them. Since most agencies struggle to stay staffed, you might have a hard time getting started with another, and you don’t want to get stuck.

It is true that if an agency pays well or provides better training, it retains more employees. For this reason, I do not discourage you from changing agencies, but, if possible, contract with a new agency before discontinuing your mother’s current care.

Regarding private hiring: understand that you would be taking on extra work, as well as risk. You would need to do your own background, screening and interview checks. Also, depending on where you live, you will likely have to pay the employer’s share of caregiver taxes and issue tax forms. Even if the person you hire is an independent contractor, which might change the way you handle taxes, you better get liability insurance. This would protect you in case they hurt themselves at your home or while taking care of your mother.

My final thought on this is to remind you that since bona fide agencies have a hard time hiring, hiring independently is not going to be an easy task. I’m not trying to discourage you from hiring yourself because with the right caregiver this option can be a dream come true. However, if you are considering a private rental, do so with your eyes open. Begin the process by researching the laws of your mother’s state of residence.

You can also take this opportunity to discuss with your mother the advantages and disadvantages of an assisted living facility (ALF). Since either choice means changing caregivers, you could at least plant the seed and even schedule visits if she’s willing to look around. If your mother likes to socialize, highlight this aspect of an ALF.

Assure your mother that you will do everything possible to respect her preferences. Gently remind her, however, that reliable care is what will help her live as independently as she realistically can, and that options are limited.


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