“Unfortunately,” says Paresh Vyas, owner of Nurse Next Door Home Care, “in our line of business we often hear horror stories from families about hiring caregivers – negligence, abuse and simply not caring. With such experience, gun-shy families frequently ask how to ensure they are making the right choice regarding who looks after their loved ones.”
Firstly, when hiring caregivers, be sure to validate their credentials! What should you look for?
Personal Support Worker Certification: this is local college certification accompanied by a reference check. For new graduates, one of their references should be their preceptor (teacher or supervisor) who supervised their placement experience at a local facility, hospital, etc. Contact all references. Check for up-to-date tuberculosis (TB) test and CPR training (only valid for two years). Request a Criminal Record Check with Vulnerable Sector Screen.
Nursing (Registered Practical Nurse is college educated versus Registered Nurse who is university educated): All nurses should be registered in good standing with the College of Nurses. Follow the link https://flo.cno.org/register/ and search a nurse by first name and last name. You should look for ‘Entitled to practise with no restrictions’. Ensure you follow the additional details section which lists any pending issues or claims. Newly graduated nurses will offer references from their placements and their preceptors, while experienced nurses will offer client/employer references. Check for up-to-date tuberculosis (TB) test and CPR training (only valid for two years). Request a Criminal Record Check with Vulnerable Sector Screen.
*NOTE: The government’s strict regulations regarding privacy of information make it challenging to get references. Families have to accept in writing that the caregiver will provide their name as a reference. Hence, if a potential employee is unable to get references, it may be because his/her clients do not want to share their information and should not reflect poorly on the employee.
During the interview, it’s important to gauge how much the caregiver loves what he or she does. Plan well for the interview with a list of standardized questions for all candidates. The purpose of the interview should be to drive more of the soft skills that will be so vital in providing quality care.
As an employer, you will be responsible for the calculation and payment of the caregiver’s Canada Pension Plan (CPP), Unemployment Insurance (UI), Workman’s Compensation (WSIB), Vacation Pay, Statutory Pay, and Ontario and Federal taxes. You will need to be cognisant of the Employment Labour Laws. For example, in Ontario, a live-in caregiver requires a minimum of eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. You will also be responsible for managing the caregiver’s vacation and sick days.
The alternative is hiring a homecare company or agency. Agencies typically do simple placements. Homecare companies should do more of the hands-on resource management and co-ordination. Here is a list of some important questions to ask all potential providers:
1. How easy is it to reach you? Think 24/7 because you can never plan unforeseen circumstances.
2. What is the no charge cancellation policy?
3. Are the caregivers employees or contractors? This is crucial, since you will need to ensure the company has sufficient coverage for liability insurance and WSIB. Each of these can lead to significant financial liabilities if things go wrong. You can search the employer on the WSIB website and under ‘ESIB’ click on ‘find a company.’ Enter the legal name of the company. Under status, it should say ‘eligible for clearance Certificate.’ Please be aware: the homeowner can be deemed liable for injuries that occur in the home if the appropriate insurance is not in place.
4. Are skilled supervisory oversight, sufficient documentation and controls in place to ensure safety, security and peace of mind?
5. How do you track if a caregiver is really there or left on time?
6. How flexible or empowered are the caregivers to do what is required in the home? Events change every day and caregivers need the freedom to change what they do when necessary to accommodate their clients. It’s important to have care plans as a guidance tool, but there are social, emotional and physical needs that don’t always go to plan. For clients being cared for, it’s already difficult having to give up control and be dependent. It is crucial for the caregiver being hired not simply to take over the tasks in order to get the job done, but to work with the client to see what can still be achieved with assistance in order to regain some order of independence.
7. Does the provider have medical and non-medical options?
It is never easy to hire the right people and a great deal of planning and co-ordination is required to do it right. However, if done right, the rewards are significant peace of mind and cost savings.
Paresh Vyas, Owner, Nurse Next Door Home Care, York Region and Scarborough. E: email@example.com; T: 416 803 3514