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By hiring home care aides you may find that you save a large percentage that you would be giving to an agency. However, you become their employer and are responsible for their salary, benefits, hiring, firing and witholding Social Security taxes. You must be prepared to speak with your loved one’s physician and those who are involved with their case so you can insure your loved one a proper plan of care.
Researching applicants:
Seek out recommendations from family members, doctors, clergy, caregiver support groups, senior centers, Area Agency On Aging, placement offices on University campuses, nursing and medical schools. If need be, place an ad in the local newspaper and post flyers on the bulletin boards at senior centers, hospitals, and at the universities.
Screen your prospective aid on the phone:
Ask them about their former education and employment. Explain what your needs are for your loved one. If you feel that they may qualify for the position and you are comfortable with the conversation schedule an “in person” interview.
Schedule a meeting:
Some families prefer to schedule the first interview in a public area for security reasons. If you are interested in having them work for you, schedule a second interview in the home where you will be able to show them around, meet with your loved one and then continue your interview from there.

Other families are comfortable with having the first interview in the home if the applicant was referred to you by a reliable source. You may choose to have a friend or family member with you when the applicant comes to the home. You may purchase inexpensive employment applications in a local stationery or business supply store. You May also print these forms out for your use. You may want to create your own application customizing the information you want to learn about. It is important for you to describe the job in as much detail as possible so that the applicant understands what is expected of them. Describe any unusual information about the carerecipient that the applicant should be made aware of. Be open and honest.
What to look for:
You will want to know as much as possible about the applicant. Important issues to look at are:

Are they compassionate? Yes___ No___

Do they communicate effectively? Yes___ No___Give the caregiver the opportunity to speak and be candid. Relaxed, two-way conversation will help you determine if the caregiver is able to assume the various duties required.

Are they caring? Yes___ No___

Do you think that they will be cooperative? Yes___ No___

Do they appear to be professional and competent? Yes___ No___

Do they listen well? Yes___ No___

Can they repeat back your instructions? Yes___ No___

Are they compatible with your loved one? Yes___ No___ (Make sure the applicant is compatible with you or your family member, so that their time together can be enjoyable.)

Is the applicant familiar with special medical or adaptive equipment that may need to be used..

Yes____ No ____
Does the applicant:
Appear to be friendly and mature? Yes___ No___

Make you feel at ease and seem at ease himself/herself? Yes___ No___

Appear to be in good health and physically able to perform required duties? Yes___ No___

Appear to be gentle and willing to follow instructions? Yes___ No___

Appear to have a sense of humor? Yes___ No___

Demonstrate an ability to follow spoken and written directions? Yes___ No___ Have past experience in assisting with and/or caring for people with special needs? Yes___ No___

Appear to be alert and interested? Yes___ No___

Demonstrate appropriate social behavior, including self-control? Yes___ No___

Appear to respect your special needs or your family member’s special needs? Yes___ No___

Will they be able to talk freely with you and your family member, and assist with communication if necessary? Yes___ No___

Do they understand their primary responsibility is to provide care and/or assistance for you or your family member? Yes___ No___

Can they provide medical documentation that he/she is free of communicable diseases? Yes___ No___

Do they have proof of a valid driver’s license, if expected to transport you or your family member?
Things to tell the applicant:
Make it clear during the interview that you can fire, as well as hire. You will want to know and agree upon how much advance notice you or your caregiver should give to end your employment contract or arrangement.

Tell the applicant exactly what duties you expect to be performed, and how they should be carried out. Be specific.

Make sure they understand what behavior is unacceptable tardiness, not performing job duties, poor attitude, discussing personal problems, borrowing money, etc.

Tell them the number of hours to be worked, the time to report to work and the time to leave work. Agree on times and frequency of breaks.

If you expect them to work on weekends, holidays, at night or other special times, tell them.

You must both agree on the ground rules. If possible, draw up and sign a specific employment contract. based on the information you have obtained from them.
Questions to ask:
Name: ________________________________

Address: _______________________________________________________

Phone: __________________

Education: _____________________________________________________

Work experience: ____________________________________________________


Former Employers:


Address: ____________________________ City _____________________ St____

Phone: __________________________

Former Employers:


Address: ____________________________ City _____________________ St____

Phone: __________________________

Former Employers:


Address: ____________________________ City _____________________ St____

Phone: __________________________

Why are you looking for work? __________________________________________________________________


Why did you leave your previous job(s)?



What were your previous responsibilities at your last job(s)?





How soon will you be available to work? __________________________________

How long a period will you be able to work for? _____________________________

Does applicant have a suggestion for an alternate aid to cover for them while they are on their day(s) off? Yes___ No___

How will you get to work? _________________________ If your regular means of

transportation is not available to you, how will you get here?____________________

Are there any aspects of this work that you do not feel you are capable of doing?


Are there any things you would feel uncomfortable performing? _________________


Give them some examples to see how they might respond. Make up some questions

beginning with “What if?…….” or “How would you?…….” ________________________





What appeals to you most about this job? _________________________________



Before agreeing to hire the applicant: If you are interested, please make sure you do the following:

Check all references:

Check for a criminal record with local law enforcement officials. Check state records for arrests, and abuse records for people who have been involved in elder abuse or neglect actions. If necessary check to make sure that there are no past problems with the IRS over tax issues.

Draw up an agreement or contract. The agreement should list the name, address, phone number, social security number, a schedule of days and hours for work, days off, holidays off, services to be performed, and any benefits you may agree on such as paid transportation. You may want to consult an elder law attorney and/or accountant to make sure you withhold the proper taxes and have proper insurance coverage.

Practice any emergency procedures that may be necessary for your safety or your family member’s safety.

If you and the applicant agree to proceed with an employment agreement, provide sufficient orientation several days before the date, so the caregiver can become acquainted with you or your family member. Show them where the carerecipient profile and emergency information is kept. Make it accessible for them at all times.

Remember, it is your responsibility to oversee and supervise the person you hire. It is up to you to direct them tactfully and promptly when the need is called for. It is also important to praise them when called for.

© Copyright 2000 by Gail R. Mitchell


  • Ms. Mitchell began her full-time caregiving experience in the early eighties when her husband was diagnosed with cancer. Later on she became the primary caregiver for her father, along with her mother who had become critically ill from burnout prior to her dad’s passing. In recent years, she cared for several friends with AIDS while continuing to care for her mother and actively providing support, information, referrals and resources for caregivers.

    Gail's leadership on the Internet and her success with Empowering Caregivers led her to found National Organization For Empowering Caregivers (NOFEC) INC in 2001.

    Prior to founding NOFEC, she created the iVillageHealth Chat: Empowering Caregivers, which she hosted for over 5 years. Within a month of hosting she created Empowering Caregivers: www.care-givers.com in 1999 as a resource for caregivers around the globe. Over three million visitors have frequented the website.

    She has presented at national and international care-related conferences and programs and has been a keynote speaker for many programs as well.

    Ms Mitchell has assisted thousands of caregivers online and offline in ways to empower themselves in their roles in caring for loved ones.

    For a list of clients and/or her resume, please contact info@care-givers.com

    Gail's articles have been published in many venues nationally and in Canada. Presently, she is a member of American Society on Aging and National Quality Caregivers Coalition.

    Gail has discovered that there is life after caregiving: She has become a successful ceramic artist and installation artist. She created Crystal Illumination Art to bring the transformative quality of illumination, light and color to the human experience and celebrate its ability to inspire, heal and nourish our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well being.