Questions to ask a prospective caregiver

KarenNWendyn

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My spouse/ CALS wanted me to ask this here. We will be conducting face to face interviews with a couple of potential caregivers next week. What are good questions to ask during the interview?

We’re thinking we want a team of 2-4 people who can trade off, maybe starting people off with 4 hour shifts once or twice a week and increasing over time as needed. I’d also be interested in hearing what other sort of arrangements people have used.

Any advice on doing background checks?
 

nona

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Hi, in addition to my family, I've been receiving care over the last year from a few nursing students and a local woman ( totals about 40 paid hours split across various days and shifts) . A friend helped me interview and do a demonstration to see how they reacted to the actuality of the work, which was actually the most important part of the screening.

Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, but I would try to get a sense of their timeliness and dependability ( have they ever lost a job due to absence or tardiness, or for any other reason?). I would also ask what makes them squeamish, whether they would object to light housework, if they've ever fed or bathed an adult, if they like to walk and what they do to keep fit ( it's tiring work), how far they would have to travel and if they have reliable transportation... How well they take direction and receive suggestions

I would ask for relevant work references.
 

Nikki J

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All super important. I would never have thought to ask but had a caregiver of my sister refuse to get a flu shot. I would also be leery of people who have young children in their household. You don’t want to bring colds and other common childhood ailments into your household. Everyone gets sick but little kids are a particular concern
 

lgelb

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I checked refs, Google-stalked, checked CNA/NAC licenses, did criminal check on a couple.

But as has been said, most important is to have a nonlinear conversation. If they are super nervous, look at the equipment like it's an alien, are overly familiar too fast, claim to know it all, can't talk about non-caregiving topics, or just don't seem to see you as people, kick 'em to the curb. And IQ does matter in emergencies.
 

Wilson2009

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Make sure you check their social media accounts. You can find out a lot by checking what they post. A lot of candidates who were great interviews have lost out because of what they post online.
 

mytmouz

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I went with a company as I am in a rural area and no one was answering adds friends had posted on Facebook. The person who came in to talk to me had a list of questions to ask anyone if I decided not to use them. They vet the people prior to setting up an interview with them, you don't have to take what they scrap up if you are nervous about them. The most important thing is they are bonded. They sent a substitute out last Wednesday, and they tripped over my Hoyer's lift and fell. Any pushback on that should not fall on me...
 

KimT

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I interviewed people to take care of Fred's mom for end-stage renal failure. Some of the ones who looked good on paper were disasters in the interview. I asked them why they wanted to work in this particular environment. I asked how they would handle X or Y (concerns that could be emergencies) and asked if they had any physical limitations that would prevent them from lifting, bathing, bending or operating equipment (she was on home dialysis and the setup had to be sterile and took about 10 minutes. I made it clear that when they weren't directly attending to Nellie, they would be expected to prepare food, do light cleaning and feed the dogs.

I asked each person about their last job and why it didn't work out. I also asked a lot of open-ended questions to find out if they had kids and what they did outside of work.

We ended up with four good ones but one quit after a few months. The other three stayed on and rotated when Fred, his niece or I couldn't be there. We had one who was a talker but she liked to cook and clean while she was talking so she was very productive and it didn't bother Nellie.

It might be good to prepare a job description so they will understand what is expected of them.
 

affected

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I think it's really important to meet the PALS and be watchful as the CALS or friend helping interview, as to how they treat the person and how well they listen.
Try to find out (as well as the terrific suggestions above) how they will cope if verbal communication ceases.

Since anyone can be taught all that is needed, I think that finding out how they deal with things as a person is the real key. We had one person that really did treat Chris like a child, she lasted maybe 3 shifts because we really tried to give her the benefit of the doubt ...
Also try to get a feeling for how well they will respect the fact they are in your HOME. They are not coming to a hospital or just a 'workplace' but into the intimate setting where people actually live.
Chris also did not want people who were going to talk on and on at him all day. He was so frustrated with his lack of ability to speak, and limited movement, he did not want to be trapped listening and not able to contribute.

Job description is a great thing to have ready as it lays the foundation and gives you both practical points to discuss in an interview.

You definitely want someone who is willing to do anything. As a CALS it was really difficult for me to have people come in and do what 'I should do', so if I had had to deal with people balking at doing anything it would have been crushing for me.
 

vltsra

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I asked our local ALS Association if they had any recommendations for agencies. My contact there had just gotten a glowing recommendation for a caregiver whose PALS had recently passed away. She has been a godsend for me as I am able to work and do other things with her here. She cared for two other PALS before my husband so understands his needs very well.

V
 

Nuts

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Great advice here already. If you are hiring direct, do the background checks. I would also ask for references. Can you call their last three employers and see how things went? Also, observe how they are with your PALS. I turned down a couple of possibles who actually walked into the house, and then into my husband's room, while texting.

Strength is important, not only for the caregiver, but also for you PALS. We had to pass on a couple of people (including one nurse in the hospital) who just didn't have the physical strength, so they had to jerk my husband to move him. That was painful for him. I loved having big strong male nurses!!

Have cameras up in his room and in public spaces in the house--including where the meds are. If that's a problem, pass. I seldom checked mine--just the fact that I could mattered.

Have a written schedule and list of tasks for them to read. That's the best way to make sure you are on the same sheet of music. Your idea of caregiving and theirs might be different, and you need someone who will do things your way. Observe them as they read, and ask a few questions about their experience or understanding of the tasks.I f they can't read and follow instructions, you may have a problem. Yes, invite suggestions, but they don't get implemented without your (or your PALS) approval.

Don't get discouraged. We had a nursing agency for 9 months and they were never able to staff us with 5 people at the same time. I rejected more nurses than I approved (with my lead nurse's concurrence). Once you do find good people, treat them very, very well. They are going to be in your home performing very intimate tasks--if they don't feel like family it will never be comfortable. I was amazed at the stories I heard about how some families treat home heath care workers.
 

KimT

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Karen, I think a big advantage you have is that you're a medical doctor. The candidates need to know this because it'll let them know you understand what they are doing/not doing.

Never underestimate the instincts of your four-legged friends to warm up to the right people. They can sense a caregiver's feelings toward you. I wouldn't want anyone around me who didn't enjoy dogs and who wasn't willing to walk my dog or play with him.
 

KarenNWendyn

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Really great advice. Thanks everyone!
 

KarenNWendyn

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A followup to this thread...

Everyone gave helpful suggestions. I had put this in the CALS forum at the request of my partner who urged me to “ask (my) forum buddies”. I thought mostly CALS would respond, but we had a mixture of PALS and CALS respond.

We interviewed two prospective caregivers this week. One was a gal in her 40’s who had actually worked with a PALS in the past (the PALS was slow progressing and eventually moved out of the area). She checked all our boxes and seemed like a great fit in terms of personality, work ethic, and experience. We’re having her return next week for a trial run/ training session. She also has a rescue dog and knows a couple other caregivers with ALS experience. Bingo!

The other was a woman in her 60’s whose main caregiving experience has been working with elderly demented patients. She seemed nice (and also has a rescue dog), but.... I’m noticing that this is the skill set of many people who do caregiving, including the woman I already have working for me for the last several months. Providing companionship and mental stimulation for an elderly person is very different than the more hands-on procedure-oriented care that ALS requires.

Thanks everyone for your help. Hopefully caregiver #1 will work out for the long haul.
 
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