Sometimes aging seniors need support and assistance within their home, but they don’t necessarily need medical care. They or their family members are often looking for someone who can help with light housekeeping, preparing meals, bathing, and companionship.
Before my father went into a nursing home, we had aides coming in several times a week. They were responsible for bathing, light housekeeping (mainly his bedroom and bathroom), and some level of companionship. Most of them spent time chatting with him after his bath. That time with someone outside of his family helped cheer him up, and he looked forward to their visits.
We happened to go through an agency suggested by local senior health workers after Dad spent three weeks in a nearby rehabilitation center after a fall in his bathroom. We considered ourselves lucky as not everyone has the opportunity to get that type of help.
If you are interested in getting help for your loved one, there are two main ways you can go. You can get nonmedical support services through an agency, or you or your family can hire independent contractors. There are pros and cons to both, but at the end of the day the choice is yours.
Independent contractors, or non agency workers, are typically hired by the person needing help or by one of their family members. If you hire an independent contractor you can save a lot of money, but there may be some hidden costs and risks that you may not think about. For example,
- You would be responsible to directly pay the person who is helping, and also pay all appropriate payroll taxes as well because they are technically in your employ.
- You are responsible for medical bills and any other expenses if they get injured on the job.
- You are responsible to find a replacement if they become ill, go on vacation, or suddenly quits.
- You are responsible for conducting a proper background check on everyone you consider for hire. If you don’t, you may leave your loved one open to fraud, theft, or, in rare cases, abuse. You should at least check with the last three places the person worked before you make the decision whether or not to hire them.
As the number of aging seniors increases, there seems to be an increasing number of companies willing to work with individuals to provide specific services that help with activities of daily living. The agency can take much of the load off family members when they choose to hire a helper for their loved one.
- The agency is responsible for taxes, insurance, bonding and workers’ compensation.
- If an employee is sick, quits, or goes on vacation, the agency provides another employee to perform the needed services.
- The agency is responsible for training its employees and performs ongoing supervision as well. This helps the agency monitor and respond to the changing needs of clients, ensuring that the appropriate level or skill of caregiver is sent to the home. Over time the needs may change. They certainly did with my father as he became feeble and dependent on the help of others for his daily needs.
- The agency also conducts background checks according to state law.
In addition, the agency is often licensed to provide a higher level of home care (skilled nursing, for example) for individuals. That means that as a person’s needs change he or she does not need to work with more than one company. Working with one company can make it easier when it comes to filling out paperwork and accessing such sources as Medicare.
On the negative side is that agencies cost family members more money out of pocket, but they provide much more in the long run. Each family will need to consider expenses vs what they receive for the amount of money the care will cost them. That can often be a difficult choice when families do not have the available resources to pay an agency.