Tips for Hiring Caregivers: How to Safely Hire In Home Help
Whether you are looking for the perfect nanny, housekeeper, childcare or elderly care, the task of finding the right worker for your family can be daunting – especially if you are Frum. Not only is nothing more important than keeping your loved ones safe, but you are likely searching for an employee who is connected to Yiddishkeit, who is familiar with the laws of Kashrut, and who can uphold your Jewish values of home and family.
To help ease your burden and your mind, here are some expert tips on how to safely hire in-home help.
Ten Rules of Thumb for Hiring Caregivers
Once you have determined your needs, the type of care you are looking for, and the level of Jewish observance your household requires, follow these basic rules of thumb on hiring help at home:
- Credentials and Licensing: Request a resume which lists relevant prior experience and check that your candidate has the proper credentials, such as nursing training, up-to-date First Aid and CPR certification, and any required legal licenses.
- Background Checks: Even with impressive credentials and a good reputation in your community, background checks are paramount when bringing a stranger into your home. Run a check through law enforcement (you will need personal information such as birth date and social security number, as well as the caregiver’s permission), Google their name on the Internet and check out their Facebook page/social media accounts to learn more about them.
- Immigration Status: No matter how impressed you are, avoid legal trouble by inquiring about the caregiver’s immigration status, requesting proper documentation.
- References: Always check personal and professional references when screening personal caregivers and verify how long the candidate worked for each reference. Ask former employers for a detailed and overall impression, paying attention to outright complaints as well as to any hesitancies in responding to questions, which could indicate a red flag. If you are an Orthodox Jewish family, this is also a good time to inquire about the candidate’s midos, character, and ability to serve as a good companion or role model for your loved ones.
- Abuse: When turning to outside help in caring for a family member, some uncomfortable questions need to be asked to ensure safety. Be confident as you ask a potential caregiver if he or she has ever been associated with, accused of, or has witnessed child abuse. Gauge their reaction and ask if they would justify specific behaviors you deem abusive. Be confident in your questioning, demonstrating your commitment to your loved ones, your awareness and your knowledge. Note that both teens and adults and both Frum and non-Frum individuals can be perpetrators of abuse, so follow these tips regardless of the candidate’s background.
- Safety Rules/Boundaries: Be clear about your family rules for safety, ensuring that your child or senior knows the rules as well. This includes boundaries and guidelines regarding:
- Personal care
- Physical boundaries – i.e. touching, hugging, kissing, massaging, horseplay, tickling, walking in when your child/senior is in the bathroom, knocking before entering, and other possible invasions of personal space or privacy
- Religious traditions
7. Employment Terms/Responsibilities: Spell out – in writing or in a contract – what caregiver duties are involved, including:
- Duties (i.e. babysitting, pick up from school, cooking meals, bathing, nursing duties, running errands, etc.)
- Vacation/Days off
- Performance reviews
- Transportation (i.e. compensation for bus fare/gas, permission to use family vehicle)
- Confidentiality and discretion terms
- Termination and severance
- Unscheduled Visits: It is important to continue to monitor a caregiver’s activities after they have been hired, perhaps by way of an unscheduled visit or unexpected ‘drop by’ by a neighbor or friend. Observe your family member’s reaction during and after time spent with a service provider, noticing if they appear happy and at ease or agitated and uncomfortable.
- Backup Caregiver: It’s a good idea to have an already interviewed and screened referral on hand in case of need. Keep a list of backup caregivers handy in case your regular caregiver becomes ill or is unable to work.
- Include family members in the decision process: It is crucial to prepare your child or senior in advance of hiring in home care. Where applicable, include them in the decision-making process or consider a trial period during which both your family member and the caregiver can get to know and evaluate one another.
Schedule Quality Time with Your Family Member
While your busy life or the taxing needs of your loved one may have led you to hiring in home help, do not forget to take time out of your busy schedule to spend with your child, teen, or elderly parent or grandparent. The Torah itself recognizes the special bond between mothers and their children and specifies life lessons a Jewish father is required to impart to his children. Similarly, Judaism places great value on respect for the elders and their life wisdom.
Hiring a Caregiver: Trust Your Gut Instinct
Once you have done due-diligence, conducted the interview, run the necessary background checks and called references, pay attention to your gut instincts. If you sense a red flag or you feel uncomfortable in any way, trust your gut and do not ignore the warning signs. In home or out of home, nothing is more important than keeping your family members safe.
Caregiver Bonus Tip
Hiring a caregiver can be both stressful and emotional, so do not hesitate to consult with family, friends, your Rabbi, and local resources such as Jewish senior care or child care experts in your community.