After deciding to get help caring for your older adult at home, the next step is hiring an in-home caregiver. Of course, you’ll want someone who gets along with your senior and does a great job caring for them.

But that’s easier said than done, especially if you’ve never hired anyone before. That’s why we’ve got 7 tips that cover the entire process. Use these steps to find, hire, and keep the best person for the job.

1. Have a clear job description

You know you need help to care for your older adult, but do you know exactly what you want the hired caregiver to do?

Take time to sit down a write a clear job description. Include all the tasks you’ll expect them to do, hours, flexibility, and pay. This makes sure you get candidates who are willing and able to do what’s needed to care for your senior.

It’s also important to think through your older adult’s needs so you won’t end up adding to or changing the job responsibilities after the caregiver has already started work. For example, after a couple weeks, you decide to ask them to also do the laundry and clean the bathrooms. If these tasks weren’t in the original job description, the caregiver may feel like these unexpected additions are unfair and decide to look for another job.

2. Be flexible and fair about pay if you’re hiring independently

If you’re hiring independently and not using an agency with non-negotiable rates, you might want to consider being flexible about pay so you can interview the best candidates.

In the job posting, you might want to say that the hourly rate you’re willing to pay is also flexible based on experience. This could help you get responses from candidates with more experience and that extra experience may be well worth a slightly higher rate.

It’s also important to pay the going rate in your area. If you’re paying a lot less than average, you might think you’re getting a great deal, but your caregiver is likely to become resentful or think nothing of leaving as soon as they get a better job. Neither scenario is good for you or your senior.

To get an idea of average costs in your local area, take a look at the rates posted by caregivers on websites like CareLinx or Care.com — these are sites where caregivers post profiles to seek jobs. A Place for Mom also lists average in-home care costs here.

 3. Pay legally

You could save money by paying your hired caregiver under the table and skipping the employment taxes. But, if you or your caregiver gets audited by the IRS, it could mean big trouble that far outweighs the potential savings.

Creating W-2s and tax forms aren’t too difficult, but you can also get help from an accountant, by using an online payroll service like Intuit’s, or a specialized service from Care.com called HomePay.

4. Have several interviews and a trial period

Interviewing a potential caregiver just one time doesn’t give you enough information to make a good decision.

Consider having three interviews:

  • A brief screening interview via phone to make sure they meet basic requirements
  • An in-person interview to meet qualified candidates
  • An in-person interview where top candidates can meet your older adult

An interview is one thing, but real-life is something else entirely. After choosing a caregiver, arrange a trial period before making the job permanent. This is the best way to make sure they get along well with your senior and can handle the caregiving tasks. Get tips on setting up a trial period here.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions during the interview

Asking plenty of questions during the interview will help you find someone responsible, trustworthy, and compassionate. Don’t be afraid to ask specific questions about their past experience or ask what they would do in situations you know will come up.

For example, if your older adult has dementia and incontinence, ask what they would do if your senior refused their attempts to remove the brief and get cleaned up. Or, ask how they would handle it if your older adult refused to take their medication. Get more interview questions here.

6. Make sure to check their references

Even if the person you interviewed seemed fantastic, it’s still wise to do background checks and call all of their references. Feel free to ask questions about the candidate: how they performed, if they would hire that person again, and if they’d recommend the candidate for your job.

7. Have an employment contract

Creating an employment contract is an important step in hiring a caregiver. It doesn’t have to be complicated. The purpose of the document is to clearly lay out the details you’ve discussed.

Both of you sign the document to show that the job expectations are clear and that you both agree to the terms.

Make sure to include:

  • Job description
  • Hours / schedule
  • Pay rate and pay periods
  • Anything else you’ve agreed upon during the interview process

​​This article originally appeared in Daily Caring

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