If your elderly loved one has decided to age in place, they may need assistance with personal care tasks like cooking, cleaning, chores, and more to retain their independence. There are two main ways to get them help—hiring a private caregiver yourself or using an agency.
You’re probably wondering to yourself, “Should I hire a private caregiver or an agency?” Short answer: It depends but agencies typically provide more independence for the patient and the patient’s original caregiver. Private caregivers usually charge lower hourly rates than agencies. However, there are many hidden costs and headaches associated with managing a household employee, like handling payroll and scheduling issues. Hiring an agency such as Professional Caretakers can not only help your loved one but can also lighten your load as well from managing a private caregiver.
To help you understand both of these options and ultimately decide which one is best for your family, we’ve put together this guide. Here are a few things to consider:
Types of care
Private caregivers can provide in-home medical care if they’re trained and licensed. But many independent caretakers are only qualified to do personal care tasks like bathing and dressing. If your loved one has complex medical needs that require skilled nursing, it may be hard to find a private healthcare worker who can provide it.
Agencies are usually better equipped to offer in-home medical care in addition to the typical household tasks. They have registered nurses on staff who can dress wounds, monitor vitals, provide catheter and feeding tube care, and more. If your loved one’s needs change, the agency can switch the caregiver for one more who is more experienced in providing for your loved one’s new needs.
The hiring process
Finding a private caregiver is just like hiring an employee. You’ll have to create a job description, post it on websites like Indeed, and interview the applicants. You’ll also be responsible for conducting background checks, verifying the candidate’s qualifications, and training them once they’ve been hired. The whole process can take weeks to complete and may be difficult to navigate if you’ve never hired or managed employees before. In the meantime, you still have to provide care for your loved one.
Agencies simplify the hiring process by handling all of these steps for you. The agency screens and trains its employees to ensure that they’ll provide the best quality care for your loved one. Agencies will also create an individualized care plan that’s designed to meet all of your family member’s needs.
If your loved one’s private caretaker gets sick or doesn’t show up for work, you’ll have to find someone else to take the shift or cover it yourself. These kinds of scheduling difficulties can create unnecessary stress for both you and your loved one.
With an agency, you won’t need to worry about who will care for your family member if their regular caregiver can’t make it. Agencies have many highly qualified employees who can step in on short notice. No matter the circumstances, your loved one will get the help they need.
When you hire a private caregiver, you’ll be responsible for paying them and may have to withhold taxes from their wages. If you pay them more than $2,100 per year, the IRS requires you to deduct 7.65% of their salary for taxes. You’ll also have to pay your share of taxes as their employer, which is usually another 7.65%. If you forget to send in a check to the IRS, you could face penalties and fines. As an employer, you’ll also be responsible for providing workers’ compensation if your loved one’s caregiver gets injured on the job. Many homeowner’s insurance policies don’t cover household employees, so you may have to purchase extra insurance.
If you hire an agency, all of these taxes and costs are already factored into the fee, so you won’t have to budget extra money for them. You won’t have to deal with payroll or withholding taxes either, which will save you a lot of time which you can use to actually enjoy time with your loved one or even take some time for yourself.
Feedback and supervision
When you hire a private caregiver, the responsibility of managing them and addressing issues with their job performance falls on you. If the person you hire simply isn’t the right fit, you’ll have to fire them yourself and repeat the hiring process to find a replacement.
With an agency, you won’t have to manage your loved one’s caretaker. Agencies have registered nurses that will supervise them to ensure they’re providing the highest quality care. If you have any concerns, you’ll be able to talk to the agency manager who will work to find a solution. Agencies also have established protocols for addressing and reporting serious infractions like stealing, which helps provide extra peace of mind.
If hiring and managing a private caretaker, handling taxes, scheduling, care plans, and insurance sounds overwhelming, you may want to consider going with an agency like Professional Caretakers instead. Contact us to explore your options and learn more about the quality care and services we provide. With the responsibility of managing your loved one’s care taken off of your shoulders, you’ll have more free time to enjoy with your family and that itself is very valuable.