This is the most dangerous and cheapest route for your patients to take but sometimes is the best option. When patients call me at Harmony Home Care and can’t afford to private pay a home care agency, I suggest they do the hiring themselves. Then, I educate them on the duties they will be taking on and vendors that can help them.
I also share a little vignette from my personal experience to show them the dangers involved with direct hiring: About 5 years ago, just before my wife and I started Harmony Home Care, my mother in law informed us she was going to hire a caregiver from her church. We all cautioned against this because of the liability she was exposing herself to, but she insisted and hired a wonderful young man named Rudy.
Rudy was one of the best caregivers we had ever seen: attentive, pro-active, energetic, compassionate, reliable…really too good to be true. But he proved himself to be authentic and so we all accepted him as part of the family. A couple of years went by without any problems, until one night my wife received a call from her mom at 11pm. She said she just woke up and was confused and afraid. Her car was pulled over alongside the freeway, and she could see Rudy in handcuffs in the back of a Highway Patrol cruiser. It turns out he had been pulled over doing over 100 mph and had failed a sobriety test, all with our mom asleep in the passenger’s seat!
After that incident, mom was unconcerned, she wanted to keep Rudy and wouldn’t hear otherwise. The family met with Rudy and warned him that he was on thin ice, and that one more incident of any kind and we would let him go.
Two more months passed without incident, until mom called us again on a Friday morning, unable to find Rudy. A knock on the door soon answered that question. It was a police officer explaining that Rudy had been in an accident in mom’s car, he had failed a sobriety test again and was in jail. As it turns out he had waited until mom was asleep, taken her car, and gone out to have a few drinks. For some unknown reason he was speeding down her alley way at over 70 mph, when upon entering a cross street he became airborne and t-boned a BMW with two attorneys in it (what are the odds?). Miraculously, no one was seriously injured, but because mom was technically the employer, the attorneys sued her personally. We were terrified that mom would lose everything she had and become totally dependent on us. The case dragged on for two years and was finally settled by her insurance company.
To avoid nightmares like this when considering hiring a caregiver privately I recommend the following:
1) Do background checks and drug tests.
2) Have the caregiver fill out time cards for all the hours they are serving you and pay them hourly. Do not make them an independent contractor as that is fraught with liabilities. You can use a vendor that can handle the payroll for you. We have used HomePay in the past and like their service. That way all the taxes and unemployment fees are paid and the state can not come back on you.
3) Check with your Home Owners and Auto insurance (or landlord if you rent) and make sure you are covered for injuries that may occur in your home or automobile.
4) Get a criminal bond to cover the caregiver in case anything is stolen from you.
5) A TB test is probably a good idea, as the state requires caregivers that work for agencies to have one.
6) Check references and ask the caregiver to provide a history of all the training they have had.
I hope this advice helps you in your efforts to help others who are needing in-home care and assistance. For further help and education, read our blogs. If you decide that you would like to learn more about how Harmony Home Care in Sacramento can assist your family, call us today. Our goal is to treat everyone like part of our family and connect with them a compassionate caregiver that offers professional, safe, and reliable assistance.
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