January 14, 2019

It’s a big step to invite a professional caregiver into the home of your aging loved one.

It’s very different than having someone stop by to deliver food, say, or bring in a new mattress. There’s an enormous level of trust, respect, and confidence involved in working with a senior companion. This person is going to spend a lot of one-on-one time with your loved one. It’s important that you and your senior relative are both comfortable with having this person in the home.

Your peace of mind is paramount. You need a companion who doesn’t cause any drama or frustrations. At every step of the way, you need to be confident in their abilities, and secure in the belief that the person you’re employing is trustworthy, dependable, and a good fit for your family.

When choosing a caregiver or companion for an aging loved one, it’s important to consider the caregiver’s credentials. You want someone taking care of your loved one that you trust to not only assist them when necessary, but also improve their quality of life.

One way to help assure your peace of mind is to only work with home care providers and agencies that are open and transparent about their companions being trained, bonded, and insured.

A bonded, insured, and professionally reviewed caregiver has passed a criminal background check, completed required training by their private agency, and are insured through a bonding company. Meeting all of these requirements is a great starting point for a caregiver – though we realize it’s also not the end of the story.

What Does It Mean to Be Bonded?

When a caregiving agency bonds its caregivers, this means the agency has purchased a bond that covers you, the client, should any theft or damage to property occur when the caregiver is present.

Generally speaking, the agency purchases a bond from a bonding company up to a certain amount; the money is secured through official channels, not the caregiving agency. Hiring a bonded caregiver means your loved one is protected against losses from theft or damages, often up to a fairly significant amount.

When a bonding agency bonds a caregiver, it also means that they conducted thorough background checks and found them to be a trustworthy, reliable investment.

What Does It Mean to Be Insured?

Generally speaking, every business should have an insurance plan in place, covering a wide variety of incidents. This is particularly important for caregiving agencies, and other types of businesses where clients place an enormous amount of trust in the services provided by the company. It is perfectly reasonable to ask a prospective vendor for proof of insurance as a prerequisite for retaining their services. For instance, here at Companions for Seniors, we offer transportation services; as a result, we make sure that all of our companions who transport clients have a valid driver’s license, and drive insured, company-owned vehicles.

What Goes Into Caregiver Training?

Before working with clients, we ensure that our caregivers are extensively trained, not only on how to administer personal care, but also on how to better socially relate to seniors. It’s critical for caregivers to be prepared for any number of situations that could arise on the job. As a result, caregiver training typically includes:

  • Learning how to handle difficult situations and disagreements
  • Improving communication with seniors and their family
  • Understanding risk management and fall prevention
  • Learning how to manage personal stress associated with the job
  • Assessing and improving a senior’s home environment
  • Safely assisting seniors with movement and activities of daily living (ADLs)

Technical training is incredibly important, and it’s one key piece of the puzzle. But the process really begins when we first bring a caregiver onto our team. At Companions for Seniors, our companions are not only well-trained, but they are sincerely passionate about their work. They see providing care and support to others as a calling. They bring a dedication, a flexibility, and a level of devotion and attention to detail that goes well above and beyond what formal training alone could instill.

What Does All This Mean for Me?

There’s a lot to consider when hiring an in-home companion. As a loving family caregiver, one of your first steps should be assessing your senior loved one’s needs, including their physical health, personal care routine, ability to cook and clean, social calendar, and so on. Compare their needs to the services provided by a professional caregiver, to make sure you’re getting a companion whose skill set closely aligns with your requirements.

Together, you, your loved one, and your caregiver can create a caregiving plan that incorporates the caregiver’s professional working knowledge, along with your unique insights on how to fulfill the wants and needs of your loved one.

There are numerous things to consider when putting together a care plan, including:

  • Amount and type of personal care needed, such as bathing, grooming, oral hygiene, assistance with dressing or using the restroom, etc.
  • Plans for grocery shopping and meal preparation
  • Exercising and physical activity
  • Social activities
  • Housekeeping, and maintaining a safe home environment

Working with a professional caregiving agency that you know and trust can make this entire process easier and safer, at every step of the way – from initial meeting, to the moment when you craft and implement a personalized care plan for your loved one.

What If I Choose a Caregiver Without Bonding or Insurance?

In contrast, if you choose to work with an independent caregiver, a caregiving agency that doesn’t require training for their caregivers, or a company which doesn’t vet and insure candidates through a bonding process, you open yourself and your senior up to greater risks. It’s important to understand the potential consequences.

The priority of safety can be compromised if the caregiver hasn’t gone through proper criminal or professional background checks. Before an agency hires a caregiver on staff, they usually conduct rigorous interviews and examine references, in addition to completing background checks.

Hiring a trained, bonded, and insured caregiver means all boxes are checked for you and the preliminary research is done. If you hire a private caregiver, there’s no guarantee they have received proper training. If you choose this route, one way to protect yourself is to ask for proof of certification through an accredited agency, or dependable references; you can also confirm that the caregiver is willing to go through background checks, though this process can be time-intensive.

There are numerous financial risks associated with hiring through this process as well. Hiring a bonded caregiver protects you from theft, breakage or loss, but working with a non-bonded caregiver offers little to no protection. Additionally, if a third party caregiver is injured on the job and doesn’t have insurance, you as their employer may be responsible for their medical expenses. Hiring an insured caregiver offers a level of additional protection.

About Companions for Seniors

If you have questions about the process we use for hiring, training, or bonding caregivers, don’t hesitate to get in touch today. We’d love to keep the discussion going, and set your mind at ease. Be sure to drop us a line or give us a call with any questions, or to get started finding home care help for your aging loved one.

At Companions for Seniors, our mission is to help seniors live independently and with dignity in the comfort of their own home by empowering them to lead an active and enriched lifestyle, connecting them with their community, and nurturing meaningful relationships.

We are locally owned in Chicago, Illinois, with clients in both the city and suburbs. We offer personalized care plans to ensure that every client’s specific needs are met. Companions are available on a full- and part-time basis, and can offer assistance with activities of daily living, driving services, and much more.