Once the decision has been made that in-home care services are the best option, the next question becomes how and where to find the right caregiver. Most people turn to a full-service home care agency which screens, hires and trains its employees. Sometimes, families think they will save money by hiring a caregiver directly, rather than going through an agency. When they hire someone directly, they become the employer and are fully responsible for their caregiver employee. Hiring a caregiver directly can sometimes save a few dollars in the short term, but there are important considerations that people should be aware of before making this important decision.
1.“Private” caregivers who do not work for an agency do not carry their own liability insurance or worker’s compensation. If an accident or other incident occurs on the job, the employer (the client) would be responsible, possibly costing the client thousands of dollars. One caregiver with a back injury can potentially mean a lifetime of medical and physical therapy bills.
2. What will happen if the caregiver calls off or doesn’t show up? Anyone hiring a caregiver directly needs to have a back-up plan, since there won’t be an agency involved to send a replacement.
3. Most clients do not have the capability of performing background checks on their direct-hire caregivers.
4. As the employer, the client is responsible for training, disciplinary action and terminating the caregiver (if necessary) if they hire the caregiver directly. If using an agency, the agency is responsible for handling these sometimes unpleasant responsibilities (in the case of personnel issues and firing).
5. If hiring a caregiver directly, the client needs to be able to assess the quality and skill level of the caregiver. This is especially important if the client needs hands-on personal care, or is not able to walk and move independently. Proper training and supervision is essential for the health and safety of both the client and the caregiver. Improperly trained or skilled caregivers could lead to client falls or injuries.
6. By law, the client (employer) is responsible for filing payroll taxes, tax forms, and verifying that the employee can legally work in the U.S.
In today’s tight economic times, saving money and using resources wisely is more important than ever. Hiring a caregiver directly may be less expensive in the short term. However, the tremendous risk and long-term costs need to be considered. One on-the-job accident that results in a back injury or even worse, a lawsuit, costs far more than the savings realized by hiring directly.