How to Hire In-Home Care for Your Senior
Learn the factors to consider when deciding between using an agency and finding a private caregiver.
Isabella Yosuico, Contributor
Articles> How to Hire In-Home Care for Your Senior
elderly couple at home

Lisa Love's dad was adamant: absolutely no nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Yet it was clear that Joe would need a lot of help to stay at home. Much more help than Lisa and her four far-flung siblings could provide. At 83, Joe had become very unsteady on his feet, needed help getting dressed and moving around, and had never been one to cook or clean.

"My dad's a retired doctor, and let me tell you, he's a challenging patient," explains Love, who living closest, is the primary caregiver for her dad. "There was no way my husband and I could do it alone for long."

"Opening your home and entrusting your loved one to a caregiver is big step, and one that must be undertaken with caution," explains's Mary Stehle, LICSW and Senior Care Advisor.

"While it's a relief to have help, caregivers often can feel anxious about handing over the reins. We have to accept that others won't do things exactly as we would," says Virginia Morris, author of "How to Care for Aging Parents." "For the parent, it can be very stressful to let a stranger into their home. If possible, help your parent exercise some control by letting them help write the job description and select the caregiver," Morris suggests.

Here are tips for hiring an in-home caregiver, and deciding between hiring one through a service and hiring an individual. Now find a caregiver near you.

Using an In-home Placement Agency
Using a senior-care agency to find help offers some clear advantages and considerations. Before going with any service, get a personal recommendation and check the better business bureau or your local government's senior care office for agency references. You should also ask each care provider candidate for references and background checks on file.


  • Comprehensive: Most agencies screen applicants, offer training, and handle all the paperwork, such as payroll, taxes and legal matters.
  • Back-up care: Even if you use a preferred caregiver through the agency, they'll have qualified back-ups in case your regular provider can't make it to work.


  • Access to informationSome people may feel using an agency is a little impersonal. After all, you're not fully in control and don't necessarily have access to all the information about the caregivers, their salaries and other details.
  • Cost: "Agencies are a really good option for many people, but they do charge a premium for their services," explains Stehle. "You'll also still need to be really attentive to both the agency and the individual caregiver once they're hired."

Finding a Private-Hire
Hiring in-home care directly has its own distinct considerations.


  • More control: You can really get a feel for the candidates in the industry and make a more informed decision about who might be a good fit. "Many people feel more comfortable managing the hiring process themselves, because it is so very personal," acknowledges Stehle. "If you decide to find care for your loved one yourself, you need to carefully review potential caregivers."


Managing this sensitive process properly is an involved effort:

  • Finding candidates. You can find help through sites like, your network of friends, family and colleagues, social networks and religious groups. However, "you must do your due-diligence" says Stehle. "It's important to interview, call multiple references, run background checks, and trust your gut instinct."
  • Care coordination. If you're hiring directly, you'll be responsible for finding back up care if your regular caregiver is unable to work. It's always a good idea to have some additional, screened resources on hand who you can call on an as needed basis.

6 Things to Consider Before Hiring a Caregiver
Whichever option you choose, here are a few things to consider before hiring.

  1. Credentials and licensing. Note if the candidate not only has experience, but any relevant training or other credentials. Are they Red Cross certified in CPR and First Aid? Do they have any health care training in nursing, for instance? In some states, in-home caregivers may be required to have certain licenses and certifications. You can check through your county or state regulatory agency's website. Ask for and review any relevant documentation.
  2. Background checks. It's extremely important to run a background check on potential hires, whether going with an agency or the individual. You can request unlimited caregiver background checks on and even purchase a more thorough Enhanced Background Check for a fee. Be sure to Google the person's name, and consider "friending"on Facebook to learn more about them.
  3. References. Ask for more references than offered and call them. Listen not only for outright complaints, but also for subtle hesitance to comment, which can sometimes indicate a problem. On the other hand, staying with clients for long periods of time is a good sign.
  4. Immigration status. We've all read the headlines. Even prominent citizens can get in trouble for hiring an illegal immigrant. Request and document your caregiver's status using an I9 form.
  5. Legal matters."Many problems can be avoided with a clear contract," Stehle explains. Contracts should spell out employment terms such as:
    • Duties and responsibilities: Hours, schedule, duties, privileges, meals, etc.
    • Compensation and benefits: Rate, frequency, benefits including days off, vacation, benefits, performance review, etc.
    • Transportation: Guidelines for using the family car and public transportation safely.
    • Discretion and confidentiality: Your expectations about personal information.
    • Notice and severance: What each party will be required to do if the job comes to an end.
  6. Finances/taxes. Paying caregivers under the table, while tempting, is risky-and illegal. Learn more about how to file taxes for an adult or senior caregiver.

Whether you use a home-health agency or go it alone, hiring in-home care is a sensitive process that requires a little thought. Take your time and do it right. You'll be glad you did.

Get tips on what to look for in a senior caregiver.

Check out senior care near you:
Warminster, PA
Little Silver, NJ
Richmond, VA
Holden, MA
Magnolia, NJ
Or take a look at some other care options:
Or take a look at some other care options:
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(15) Comments
Thanks for the article. The hardest thing for me is seeing things from my dad's perspective. We always knew he'd be a terrible patient, but he's even worse than I thought. Hopefully talking to him about the all the options, from senior living to in-home care, will allow him to open up a little more.
March 25, 2015 at 5:16 PM
My friend is searching for a home care services. He is planning to take his grandma to a few different homes for seniors before they pick the one she likes. I heard that the transition can be quite difficult, but that after a few months, most seniors are able to adapt and enjoy their time with their new friends and family.
February 27, 2015 at 1:45 AM
yao akou
yao akou
provide patience with help moving in and out of bed, bath, wheelchairs etc
April 25, 2014 at 10:17 AM
Glenda O.
Glenda O.
I'm happy and love this kind of job...
August 25, 2012 at 8:19 PM
Niki G.
Niki G.
I am a certified caregiver/CNA and i feel so good being able to help someone that is able to admit and except the help they need and when they are comfortable with the ones that care from them it makes their life so much nicer and i cant even explain the feelings of joy i have...
August 25, 2012 at 9:13 AM
Patricia S.
Patricia S.
i have six years experience working with the elderly and i enjoy doing it,i would not have it any other way, i have a passion for doing this. PATRICIA S
August 23, 2012 at 10:25 PM
Susan K.
Susan K.
great article
August 20, 2012 at 9:51 AM
Donna S.
Donna S.
I Donna S. am very much interested in taking care of the elderly.I took care of an elderly gentleman part-time for two years,till he passed.I will meet your needs. Sincerely,Donna S
July 31, 2012 at 3:18 PM
Lakesha C.
Lakesha C.
Taking care of people is kind of a family trait I acquired. We love doing what we do and wouldn't have it any other way. Can't wait to find a good family to make part of my family.
July 24, 2012 at 6:55 PM
Mary G.
Mary G.
I Love taking care elderly plople, and have been doing it for many years. I have many references. Thanks, Mary
April 15, 2012 at 1:39 PM
Anne N.
Anne N.
I need this job because I have a passion to work with the aged aging and special needs clients.I would appreciate getting considered for this position.I also have up to 5 years experience working with the same group.
April 13, 2012 at 2:27 AM
Krystal P.
Krystal P.
I love this job and would love to help.
April 12, 2012 at 9:22 PM
Tashawnda R.
Tashawnda R.
if its god well i would be more then happy too take care of people and this man he seems like a good man to work for.
April 5, 2012 at 2:47 PM
Elaine L.
Elaine L.
I'm looking for Senior Care, not a babysitter.
April 3, 2012 at 9:43 PM
Stacey T.
Stacey T.
I would love this job I love taking care of people Iam 19
April 3, 2012 at 3:20 AM

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