Most seniors prefer to remain in their own home for as long as possible. For many, this means eventually needing to hire a caregiver to assist with day-to-day needs. There are two main ways to hire a caregiver. You can hire a private or independent caregiver yourself or go through a home care agency.
While it often seems less expensive, hiring a private in-home caregiver can be a challenge and may have legal implications for the employer. But knowing the risks and responsibilities can help protect you and provide peace of mind.
Some of the most important factors to consider when hiring a private caregiver are the additional costs associated with conducting background checks, meeting tax obligations, legal compliance, and obtaining the required insurance coverage to protect your personal assets.
Background checks. When hiring a private caregiver, you should conduct your own background checks. Verifying the potential caregiver’s references is also critical when making hiring decisions.
If you hire a caregiver through an agency, they will handle the background and criminal checks, as well as contact references during the hiring process. Some agencies also require drug screenings, which can add a layer of protection for you.
Payroll and taxes. If you hire a private caregiver, you become the employer. This means you will need to handle the payroll and follow all tax laws, as well as be familiar with paying minimum wage and overtime. You also need to consider what taxes need to be withheld, including social security and unemployment.
When a home care agency is in place, the company takes responsibility for all payroll and taxes, including regular and overtime pay.
Insurance coverage. Independent caregivers typically don’t carry professional liability insurance, and you must consider what you would do in the case of theft, abuse or exploitation. There are risks to seniors and/or their caregivers that can include physical, emotional, medical and financial abuse or neglect. You may need protection in the event of illegal actions or accusations.
If there is no Workers’ Compensation Insurance and your independent caregiver were to get injured while working in your home, you may be responsible for their medical expenses and paying their lost wages until they can return to work.
If an accident were to happen in your home, the private caregiver can sue you; if you were abused or mistreated in any way, you could sue your caregiver. The difference is, the caregiver can take advantage of all your assets as a homeowner, whereas you can only sue for the assets of your private caregiver which may not be sufficient to cover the loss.
If you hire a caregiver through a home care agency, the agency will have professional liability insurance and will manage claims for worker’s compensation. Accusations of abuse, exploitation or neglect are also handled by the agency. Hiring an agency that does thorough background checks, drug testing, and personal interviews mitigates risk.
In closing. There are many variables to consider when faced with the question of whether to hire an independent or private caregiver or to use a home care agency. Many people underestimate the time, stress, risks and responsibilities of hiring and managing private caregivers. Just know that you should be prepared for all possible scenarios.
If you chose to hire a private caregiver, please protect yourself.
Needing help in the comfort of your home shouldn’t be another worry on your plate, it should provide piece of mind. If you chose to hire from an agency, FirstLight Home Care can help. At FirstLight Home Care, all are caregivers are background checked, drug tested, trained, bonded and fully insured. No caregiver is ever assigned without a personal introduction. All are required to participate in ongoing training courses, and our Field Supervisor visits regularly to ensure customer satisfaction and compliance with all regulatory requirements.