Tips for peace of mind using an in-home caregiver for the first time

peace of mind for in-home care

Preparing to engage in-home care for seniors

You might feel uncomfortable bringing a caregiver or support worker into your or your senior loved one’s home at first. It’s good to keep in mind that reputable in-home care providers are committed to building positive relationships with their senior clients and families. Their role is to treat your senior loved one with dignity and respect. If you’re worried about potential pitfalls with in-home care, you can prepare for the best outcome and learn what to do if a caregiver is not meeting your expectations. These tips will give you confidence to get the benefits of home care.

Important considerations for hiring caregivers

It’s natural to be cautious about bringing someone new into the home environment and you’ll want everything to go smoothly. A few key preparations will help.

Start slow! You can always introduce a carer one day a week and increase from there. It’s a great way to test the waters with carers. 
Consider how a carer can support your independence at home. Are there particular activities you would like to try? Would you like to visit new places in your area? They could provide transport if you don’t drive which opens up a world of opportunities.
Retain current background checks – these are usually done by an organisation, but if you’re employing an independent support worker, ensure they have a current police check, qualification and insurance. You can review these checks to keep them up to date, for example annually.
Ensure you have the right equipment in place for a carer to use, such as walking frames, wheelchairs, etc. It is often a requirement to have a hand-held shower hose and a shower chair for a carer to assist with any showering tasks. Check what’s needed in advance.
Be clear about hours, cost and payments before starting. The arrangements differ between government-funded and private services. Some items you may need to clarify:

  • Is a direct debit arrangement needed or can you pay on invoice?
  • How are additional hours/overtime treated if a need arises?
  • How much notice is required if you need to reschedule a service?

Quality home care starts with clear expectations

Your experience with home care services can depend on the carer and client being a good fit for each other. It’s important to set clear expectations from the start, to find the right person who understands the senior client’s needs.

Be up front about your preferences in a caregiver prior to booking. For example, gender, personality (quiet / sociable), similar interests, background, language, etc. This helps to get the best match from the beginning.
Be clear about the role you are booking a caregiver for, such as shopping, social support, help with meals, cleaning, personal care, etc. If a caregiver is providing social support, you may be seeking someone who’s personable and a friendly communicator. Whereas if a carer is getting your shopping, you might be happy with someone who is reserved and task focused. Personal and professional attributes can all be considered in your choice of caregiver.
Set priorities Spend 5 minutes speaking with the caregiver at the start of the shift so they know what the priorities are on a given day and get to know you.
Get to know them just as much as they get to know you.

Find an in-home caregiver you can trust

Arranging in-home help is meant to make things easier. But you could be balancing out the benefits vs concerns about their performance standards or work ethic. Knowing you can stay in control can give you peace of mind for starting home care services.

Things you don’t need to tolerate include repeatedly showing up late, not completing expected tasks, spending most of their time on their phones, or arriving in unsuitable attire. The emphasis here is on repeated issues. You could understand a carer being delayed following an emergency with their previous client, but if they’re frequently late, it creates an impact. It’s ok to speak with the service provider if you have concerns.
Build your support network – introduce family to your carers when they are present.
Establish trust by maintaining contact and being responsive to any questions. This helps to create an environment for constructive feedback if there are any issues.

Resolving issues with in-home care services

Even after making your best efforts to find an ideal caregiver, if you’re not receiving the help you need, it’s important to find a better arrangement that works for you.

Promptly address any issues to avoid misunderstandings. Remember to be specific about what concerns you, so they can take appropriate action to meet your needs.
Speak to the organisation if you have any concerns. Most of the time it can be worked out and you always have the option of a different caregiver if the match isn’t quite right. Good communication resolves most issues with carers, however as a last resort you can always change service providers if you are not happy.

Your essential peace of mind checklist

  • Be up front about your expectations and preferences in a caregiver prior to booking
  • Keep current background checks
  • Ensure you have the right equipment in place for a carer to use
  • Be clear about hours, cost and payments prior to starting
  • Contribute to a positive, trusting relationship by maintaining contact and being responsive
  • Promptly address any issues to avoid misunderstandings

How Empower Aged Care eased the way for Nellie and Fred to start in-home care

We met Fred, who is the carer for his wife Nellie, at home in Melbourne to discuss options for home care services. Nellie had Alzheimer’s dementia and Parkinson’s Disease. Frank had been his wife’s carer for many years and had always done everything for her. He had never tried introducing carers and naturally was a bit apprehensive. Their only daughter was about to have her first baby so a little extra support outside of the family was going to be really helpful.

We spoke with Nellie and Fred to determine how introducing a carer could help support them at home and keep Nellie independent and doing things she enjoyed.

  • Nellie found the mornings difficult with her Parkinson’s Disease.
  • Due to Covid Frank and Nellie had created a bubble where they missed out on a lot of social support.
  • Nellie really missed spending time with other people, going on drives and doing things around the home like baking cakes which was difficult due to her Parkinson’s.

We identified that having a carer to assist Nellie to get ready in the morning would be a huge help as it then gave her more time to enjoy baking cakes and chatting with her carer about the joys of raising a family.

Empower Aged Care provided local options and made the arrangements according to Frank and Nellie’s preferences. We started slow with the carer coming twice a week initially and then increased to 3 times a week. Once Frank and Nellie were in a routine, we added in some cleaning help as this saved Frank the work and so he and Nellie could have more quality time together.

Introducing carers has been key for Nellie and Frank to remain supported and at home.

We can help you navigate the process of bringing on a carer and ensure the service is addressing your senior’s needs. We can do this all for you with a Holistic Aged Care Assessment. Book in via our contact page or by calling 0404 444 985.

Become a senior in control
with our step by step checklist.

We'll also send you home-based aged care tips in our monthly newsletter.