I recently saw the following post in a private Facebook group for residents of my city: “Wanted ASAP: Live-in caregiver for adult woman with Cerebral Palsy and a developmental disability. Clearances mandatory. PM me for details.” It gave me pause. My first thought was that of concern for the person in need of caregiving. To me, this situation seemed ripe for an ill-intentioned person to possibly take advantage, either physically or financially. Surely, there are safer ways to connect with a qualified, potential caregiver – or not. Was I being overly cautious and out of touch? I am perfectly comfortable with people seeking other types of services on social media. Is caregiving any different? I asked Care Coordinator Janelle Leonard for her thoughts. Here’s what she said:
Social media is the latest way to find all types of services, including caregiving. Often, individuals in this field will break away from working for a specific company so that it eliminates the middle man and they can get paid more money. There are posts all over social media sites, both looking for a caregiver, as well as caregivers offering their services. While this can be convenient and beneficial for both parties, it also comes with some cautions.
In Ohio, a certified home health aide has to have completed a training program, passed a written test, and complete a background check. There are individuals who call themselves home health aides but have not completed any formal training. Maybe they provided care to family members and are now looking for a position to provide this to others as their means of employment. While this is not always a bad choice, in order to ensure their safety, as well as that of your loved one, having training in areas such as body mechanics, lifting, and transferring can be beneficial. Some sites, like CARE.com, are a great resource because, once you join (a small fee is required, depending on what type of membership you buy), they provide a comprehensive background check on anyone that applies to be featured on their website.
If people are not comfortable with social media or they are not tech-savvy, the long-standing ways of looking at newspaper ads, city or church bulletins, and word of mouth still apply. Ask your neighbors, friends, family, and even other professionals who they might recommend. There are quite a few agencies that also provide care in the home. Look for agencies that are more established and interview the agency. Trust your gut. If an agency takes pride in providing high-quality aides with low staff turnover, it is a good agency.
There are no guarantees that someone looking to take advantage won’t sneak through using any of these methods. I often review with families some common sense precautions to eliminate temptation:
- First, put away belongings, such as jewelry, in a more secure setting, like a locked jewelry box or safe. This does not mean you cannot have nice china or figurines out in your home, but rather, take a quick inventory of items of value and put away what you can.
- Do not leave credit cards, cash, or check books out in the open.
- File away paperwork with sensitive information, such as account or social security numbers, showing.
- While caregivers should be given basic health insurance information of your loved one in case of an emergency, they do not need to have access to their finances. Even if a caregiver does shopping for their client, taking out cash then making sure receipts account for the exact change brought back or even a debit card with only a limited amount of money in that account (transfer more when needed) are ways to ensure that you are keeping an eye on money.
- Caregivers should not be named the power of attorney for their clients, as that can be a conflict of interest.
- If your loved one lives on their own, but is no longer able to handle things like mail, make sure their power of attorney is getting all of their mail and that the caregiver is not opening or reviewing the mail with them.
Eliminating access to temptation can be very helpful in ensuring your loved one’s safety.