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{ } AGING with an Attitude Finding an Independent Contract Caregiver I n the last issue, you learned how to gather information to prepare to help Mom or Dad continue to stay at home, with assistance. In this issue, we will touch on finding the right independent contractor caregiver. Your budget and status will be critical to figuring out whether it is best to work with an agency or an independent contractor to care for your parent(s). If you have a finan- cial advisor and/or a lawyer, and have assets to protect, you might involve them in the decision process. • Medicare will not pay for “private duty” home health care. • The Veterans Administration Home Healthcare benefit requires that you go through an agency. (If you are financ- ing home health care with the Aid and Attendance Benefit – you can hire an independent contractor or use an agen- cy.) • Most Long Term Care Insurances require that you go through an agency but some allow independent contract caregivers. Make a phone call. Let’s discuss how you should screen inde- pendent contractors should you decide you prefer to work with them over agency-paid caregivers. By Dorie U. Sugay Dorie Sugay is the Executive Director of Visiting Angels, a company that provides living-assistance services to seniors and adults-in-need who wish to stay in their own home or receive one-on-one care within a facility. This article is for informational and educational purposes only. It was written independently of Visiting Angels. 78 • Make a list of what you would like your caregivers to be capable of, values you want them to have. This will guide you as you screen them. For example: if your Mom has dementia, do they have edu- cation and/or experience working with dementia? Communicating with someone with dementia requires a skill. Are they the type who would engage your parent rather than texting when their tasks are done? How well will they respond to an emergency situation? • Make sure you interview candidates thor- oughly. Employment from 2012 to 2014 does not mean they worked for two years! How many hours a week did they work? Did they work continuously? They could have worked 1 day a week for 2 years! GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015 Explore gaps in their employment history – the answer may give you a tip on how they think, what their values are. A com- ment, “I didn’t want to work more hours because I was going through divorce and wanted a larger spousal support,” should make you step back to ponder. Don’t let your personal feelings win them empathy when it isn’t warranted. Read between the lines, what values are embedded in their words. Are their answers making sense? They left one job for better pay and yet they did not work for 3 years. Pay atten- tion! Don’t believe everything on a piece of paper because someone is likeable. Learn how to screen people well. • Check their references. Do not just call the former elderly client. Ask for the names of their children. Seniors tend to feel bad about sharing information about issues, they feel bad about hurting the caregiver’s chances for landing a job, but their children tend to be more up front. The Baby Boomer generation, for exam- ple, tend to reward for good performance, and believe in the concept of “citizenship” – a responsibility to others. • Don’t assume that because they were with someone you know, that they did a good job! Ask questions. We ran into a charm- ing woman who has committed financial abuse but the deed was not discovered for years. A second family who knew she was with that client for years but did not know about the abuse, hired her when the former client died. That family expe- rienced her abusive approach, but she had such an influence on the second client that she was able to stay there till he died and a third family who only knew she had long term employment with these two clients hired her, until her secret was discovered and her stay with the third cli- ent was short-lived. We later heard that she has gone on to another family who was impressed with her long term assignments. Beware! • Background checks are critical. As with everything else, there are different levels