Interviewing caregivers, long distance

annkathrynNovember 20, 2007

I have an elderly relative who lives alone in an apartment and is in need of assistance once a week or so, possibly more. She can drive, but she tires very easily and could use someone to drive her to doctor's appts, grocery shopping, and other short errands. She needs light housework done as well. I found an ad for a couple who provide respite care services (on Craig's List) and have spoken with them on the phone. They've sent me the names of 3 references. I plan to call the references and ask the obvious questions (how reliable were the couple, were they trustworthy, etc). Are there any other questions I should ask, either of the couple or of their references?

This relative lives a 4-hour flight away from me, and the rest of my family is even farther. I plan to visit in January, but would like to make arrangements for someone to help her before then.

Can anyone give me advice as to how to find the "right" help for my relative? She's very independent and is only reluctantly agreeing to hire someone, so I want to get it right the first time.



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That's a really tough decision to make from such a distance. Is your relative part of a social/service organization or a church that you could call to ask for referrals? Can you call the local senior center or agency on aging for referrals? Most counties offer a variety of services for the aged. Hospitals can often steer you in the right direction too.

Also, there are many reputable home-care businesses available that do all the pre-screeing for you. They do the background checks, check driver's licenses, etc., so you have more peace of mind regarding your loved one's care. I used such a service when my mother was with us for a few months.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 4:26PM
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NO NO NO--even with references you do not know these people. Talking by phone tells you NOTHING!!!! Face to face if better, because most of the time a person gets a "feeling"
My DIL is doing this type of work only thru an agency, who investigates all they send out. She is a CNA but chooses to work this way instead of a nursing home, which she did for several years.
Call your relatives dr--medical center--hospital and ask for the Social Service Dept, and even Nursing homes and assisted living places have help. Maybe she could go into a Assisted living instead of an apartment. Yes, they drive, and even cook their own meals. They should have lists of agencies. Price might be higher, but should be safer. At least if you relative complains or indicates a problem YOU have a business to go to. And these agencies are regulated too thru the state so you can check up on them. PLEASE, don't just hire anyone!!!!

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 5:11PM
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Thanks for your responses. I'll look for local services and see if I can get a referral from them. My relative doesn't belong to any church or other organization, unfortunately, and she's had very bad experiences (from her perspective, anyway) with hospitals and doctors.

My family has tried for at least 10 years to either move her closer to my parents or establish her in an assisted living facility in her city, but she's flatly turned down both moves.

So now I'm thinking I'd better wait until I can fly out in January to arrange some help. That way I can at least see firsthand what the options are, and interview this couple or another caregiver myself.

Any other ideas are welcomed.


    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 6:44PM
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I'm glad Marie chimed in. She expressed my thoughts exactly. If your relative is so resistant & stubborn, you may just have to leave her be until she MUST be placed in a nursing home. I can't think of anything worse than arranging long distance care for a loved one only to discover that the caregiver YOU CHOSE harmed her in any way (financially, physically, sexually, or emotionally). That would be horrible to live with.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 8:20PM
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I my area there is an organization called visiting angels. See if theres not one near the person your needing help for.

If she does not allow someone to help out theres nothing else you can do.
I've tried to get my dad to get help not just for him but for me so the load can be taken off of me due to my own health problems but he will not let anyone else come in and help out.
So I guess one day I'll have to place him into a home sooner then if he would if he get outside help that would allow him to stay in his home longer.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2007 at 9:35AM
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Thanks for the information about Visiting Angels. I've emailed them for more information. It looks like it might be a good fit for my relative, although like anything it will depend on how well she gets along with the person (people) assigned to her care. I think a revolving door of caregivers will throw her for a loop, but then again I know it's difficult for caregiving companies to recruit and maintain a qualified staff.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2007 at 11:16PM
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Mariend, is absolutely right. Don't hire anyone over the
phone. Sometimes even with face to face interviews and
references you can end up with a bad choice.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2007 at 6:24PM
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I've contacted the Dept of Senior Services in the city where my relative lives. They have a good list of caregivers, including Visiting Angels, but they are all $15-$20/hour, which is well beyond my relative's means. One thing the city does is provide assisted transportation at $2 per ride, which might be useful. There is a 2-month process to apply for this transportation which I've encouraged my relative to begin.

I'm also considering Meals on Wheels for her, thinking that not only will it help her nutrition, but it might provide just a little companionship. Does anyone have experience with that organization?

Thanks everyone.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2008 at 4:31PM
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I don't have any personal experience with Meals on Wheels. But I've read several stories in the local newspapers here (greater Sacramento area) about the organization and they've all been positive.

The rate of $15 - $20 per hour is about average for caregivers, especially good ones that you can trust. Some people might work for less, especially if you pay them privately and they don't pay taxes. But I'm not sure you'd want to take your chances.

Most communities now provide discounted assisted transportation for seniors. But your relative may eventually need even more assistance in the future. It wouldn't hurt to investigate other options now before it becomes a necessity.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2008 at 6:31PM
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