What should you consider if you are hiring an in-home caregiver for a senior loved one? If you are considering hiring someone to assist you in providing care for your elderly loved one, there are a few different ways to approach the arrangement. It is good for you to know the advantages and disadvantages of each arrangement to assist you in making an informed decision.
Direct hiring versus using an in-home assistance agency
When it comes to obtaining paid help, the two most popular options are hiring someone directly or going through an agency for assistance in locating a suitable helper. If you hire someone directly that person will become your employee; if you hire an agency, the agency will select the employee from a pool of workers and send that person to your elderly loved one’s home. Depending on the arrangement the agency may or may not send the same caregiver every day.
Pros and cons of direct hiring
If you hire someone directly you will have the advantage of ensuring that the same person is providing care to your elderly loved one. This will be a benefit in that both your elderly loved one and the caregiver will develop a routine and will become more comfortable with the arrangement. The caregiver will quickly learn to do things the way the elderly person wants them done and will be more efficient at providing care than someone who has not cared for that specific elderly person before.
Another advantage of direct hiring is that because you’re not paying the agency to act as a middleman, you may be able to obtain help at a lower hourly cost. This can make a big difference in situations where the elderly person requires a considerable amount of help each day.
…making sure that all taxes are withheld properly and current laws observed.
A disadvantage of direct hiring is that you may find yourself responsible for payroll taxes and other similar items. Yet should you choose to employ someone directly, there are some helpful options. Household employer payroll software is available; there are also online agencies that will do payroll for you, making sure that all taxes are withheld properly and current laws observed. There are hosts of such online options available; a little research will yield lots of results. ElderCarePayroll (NannyPay2) software is helpful. Some services offer a spectrum from helping you do it all yourself to having it all done for you. Intuit QuickBooks Payroll is an example of a company that offers a spectrum of payroll options.
Another possible disadvantage of hiring directly is that unless you have experience in selecting the best employee for this type of arrangement, you may not be able to identify a quality caregiver as easily as the caregiving agency might. Human resources departments in the caregiving agencies will typically conduct a background check on potential employees and will have other ways of weeding out employees that cannot be trusted in the home of an elderly patient.
Pros and cons of using an agency
When you use a caregiving agency to obtain an in-home helper, you will be dealing with professionals who are accustomed to selecting the best employee for a given situation. You will not have to be concerned with doing things such as identifying potential issues and screening out questionable applicants. Further, you will not have to deal with things such as calculating and withholding applicable payroll taxes, such as federal, state, Social Security, and Medicare taxes, or having to ascertain your caregiver’s immigration status. There are checklists for the requirements of a household employer at https://www.irs.gov/publications/p926/ar02.html#en_US_publink100086722.You will be able to avoid dealing directly with all these requirements if you use an agency.
In general people often find it easier to use an agency as opposed to hiring someone directly. In addition to the ease of payroll isues an agency provides, most likely the person the agency sends to your loved one’s home will already be trained in providing care for elderly people. You will not have to deal with bringing someone up to speed on the latest caregiving techniques.
…insurance to cover any negligent actions by their employees.
Many caregiving agencies carry insurance to cover any negligent actions by their employees. This will provide you with an added level of protection and increased peace of mind when it comes to allowing someone to go into your loved one’s home unsupervised.
As mentioned above, a disadvantage of using an agency is the increased cost required to cover the agency’s fee for locating, managing, and ensuring the caregiver employee. A second disadvantage—albeit a small one—is that you may not have the same caregiver from day to day or week to week. This can be an inconvenience if your elderly loved one has a particular way that he or she likes things done and you have to continually retrain the caregiver.
Although there are advantages and disadvantages to each option, most people tend to go with an agency when it comes to selecting the best caregiver for their elderly loved one. Although the monetary cost is slightly higher, the increases inconvenience, security, and peace of mind tend to outweigh the financial consideration.
More from SMC: How to Hire an In-Home Caregiver for Your Loved One
Cramer, Luciana. Hiring In-Home Helpers: You, the Payroll Manager. Available at http://www.alz.org/cacentral/documents/Professional_Care_29_-_Hiring_In-Home_Helpers.pdf. Last visited December 12, 2015.
Knight, Victoria. What to Know If You Are the Boss of a Caregiver. Available at http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB123742280124379005. Last visited December 12, 2015.