In-home help

Our Mom is needing more help these days and my sister and I both work full time and cannot be there every day and every evening.  Mom has agreed that she would like some extra help (thank heavens) so now we are trying to decide whether to hire a care agency to come to her home or to find someone who is freelancing to help out.  Do you have any suggestions for us?

Hi Jen:

You are indeed lucky that your Mother has agreed to some help, that is a great start to this project. I have had experience with hiring individuals and agencies over the years and have good and bad things to say about both solutions.

The agency route is clearly the more expensive solution (at least on paper). Many have a minimum of hours per shift that you must hire them for and the rates can start from approximately $20.22+ taxes per hour. This can be a very expensive solution, especially if it is for an extended period. Although most agencies have bonded employees and do some staff training. However, there is often an issue with their staff turnover and absenteeism. Agency employers often struggling to retain long-term reliable workers. Sometimes they are forced to do staff replacements (even at the last minute) which can cause your loved one to be upset to have a new person to help. Often seniors do not do well with change or strangers in their homes. Bringing someone new into the situation requires that there is a new learning curve for both the care recipient and the hired caregiver.

But a different agency caregiver (even at the last minute) brings me to the topic of hiring an individual.

This individual may be bonded and may have care training. Perhaps though if you know that person, those things don’t even matter. You might want to hire that individual because you already know and trust that person. That is a huge factor to consider. An individual may indeed be cheaper on an hourly bases (because there is no agency mark-up fee or perhaps no taxes are paid). The real issue is what if this person does not show up to work, leaves half way through the shift and never returns your calls? Putting all the care responsibilities in the hands of one person is gambling a lot. When as agency worker does not show up, you simply call them and they have to figure out who to send. When you hire an individual who does not show up to work – you have nobody else to call – so then you are stuck and beyond stressed. This is why I said that on paper an agency looks more expensive. Part of the reason why you hire with an agency is because of their back-up system for replacement workers. The question that you must answer for yourself is: how valuable is that to you?

My suggestion to you is to weigh my comments and decide which route fits your family’s needs the best. You may want to do a combination of the two routes for a month or so to see how that works out. You will quickly learn which route works best for you and your Mom.

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