Tips for Comox Valley residents seeking private in-home support for seniors

By Valerie
March 2, 2012

Mr. Smith is caring for his wife of 60 years, and although he’d be pressed to admit it, he’s finding it hard to keep his head above water.

His wife has Parkinson’s disease and at the moment, she needs help with bathing, grooming and getting dressed. Mr. Smith loves his wife dearly and is happy to help with her personal care. It’s all the other stuff that adds up; the cooking, the cleaning, the shopping and managing house repairs and the yard!

Mrs. Smith helps when she can but finds she tires easily and worries about falling. Although Mr. Smith wouldn’t outright complain, he’d certainly tell you “he’s no spring chicken anymore” and could use a little extra help around the house.

We’ve been exploring the various options for finding in-home services for seniors.

If you missed our last column, click here.

Some seniors and families prefer to hire a private in-home support and care. At times, it can be more affordable and customized to the care recipient’s wants and needs. With good planning, many seniors and caregivers find the perfect match for the job!

Know what you need: Defining your loved one’s care needs and your caregiver needs is pivotal. It will help you determine the frequency and duration of help and important duties and skills required for the job.

Write it down. Once you know what you need, write down a job description. It doesn’t need to be fancy (but it can be!) and it helps to lay the foundation for a service contract between you and your in-home provider.

It’s best to be as specific as possible and list expectations, duties, and responsibilities. Typical duties include personal care (bath/shower assist, getting dressed), companionship, housekeeping, meal preparation, grocery shopping and other errands, transportation to appointments, etc).

Keep it covered. It’s good to discuss with your insurance provider your household insurance and its coverage. For instance, you are going to want to know if your policy covers property damage, theft and personal injury of a person working in your home.

Does the vehicle protection cover a care provider driving your car? Ask about bonding, too. Making a call to Canada Revenue regarding hiring in-home help is also very prudent for tax purposes.

Be on the lookout. Finding the right person is high on the list. Recommendations from trusted sources are usually a good place to start. Consider placing an ad on Craigslist, in the local paper and at the local college, especially those which have nursing or human service programs.

Ask the right questions. Interviewing potential applicants and doing reference checks is key. Standard questions can give you insight into a person’s skills and their reasons for working with seniors. It’s also helpful to give hypothetical scenarios and how a care provider would handle the situation.

Sign on the dotted line. A contract should be drawn and include the name of the employer and contractor/employee; wages and other benefits; when and how payment is made; hours of work; duties to be performed; how the contract can be terminated; dated signature of employer and contractor/employee.

Sound daunting? Have a friend or family help you or have a professional assist you in setting up the paperwork and assist with hiring the right person.

Wendy Johnstone is a gerontologist and is the founder of Keystone Eldercare Planning. Her column runs in the Comox Valley Record every second Friday.

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“You are amazing! What I tried to do in 2 months, you did in 1 week. You’ve helped us navigate the system, made sense of Mom’s disease, and gave back her independence and control. Thank you for making such a difference in Mom’s life and giving us, her family, complete peace of mind.”

– Mike G., Nanaimo, BC