Finding the person who you can trust to come into your home and care for someone you love can feel like an overwhelming task. Just the thought of it comes with a mixed bundle of hopes, expectations and emotions. You know that you need help—and that your family member could benefit greatly from the addition of the right person or people.

The fact that your family member is disabled and has a unique set of needs, however, can make the task of finding the person who’s the right fit a little more complex. As you begin your search for an in-home care provider who will be a good match, be sure to ask questions that will offer clarity for the expectations of everyone involved.

1. What is the in-home caregiver’s availability and reliability?

What is the in-home caregiver’s availability and reliability?
Whether you need in-home services on a scheduled basis, the ability to have on-call services as needed or both, those requirements need to be discussed upfront to ensure your in-home care provider will be able to help you. You’ll want to discuss the kind of schedule you’re looking for—the number of days per week, the time of day or evening you’d need them to come, the duration of shifts and whether they’d be available for additional time if needed.

2. How does the in-home care provider handle scheduling changes?

Changes to the regular schedule may need to happen not only at your request but also at the caregiver’s. Special occasions, holidays, life events and other challenges can make alterations necessary. For example, if the caregiver is sick or has a conflict, how will that be handled? If the schedule needs to change or you need additional services for a week or two, would that be possible, and what would need to happen?

3. How does the potential in-home caregiver’s skill set match the needs of your family member?

Disabilities and needs for assistance can manifest in any number of ways. Even common challenges and how they need to be met can vary from individual to individual. Strokes, illnesses, injuries and simple aging processes can affect both gross and fine motor skills, make some cognitive processes, like memory, more difficult and even affect people’s emotions. The result is that each person has their own unique set of physical, mental and emotional capabilities versus challenges. Your in-home caregiver needs to have a complementary skill set that will benefit your loved one while encouraging confidence and continuing independence in positive ways.

4. What does a shift or a typical day of activities look like?

Knowing what to expect is a huge stress reliever for both you and your family member. This is a good time to not only talk about what the in-home care provider will be doing during a shift but also try to gain a sense of how they conduct the activities. Here are some examples of questions to ask that will help you get a sense of a typical shift:

  • Will the caregiver encourage and teach your loved one how to adapt to the challenges of aging or physical rehabilitation and do tasks for themselves?
  • Is the caregiver comfortable with directed activities and possibly having to alter a plan when it’s not working out?
  • How comfortable are they with personal tasks and helping your family member maintain a positive self-image while taking care of those tasks?
  • How much input will your family member have regarding activities? If, for example, your loved one has a hobby they love or would like someone to read to them, will the caregiver help with that?

5. Will the caregiver assist with extracurricular activities and outings?

Adults with disabilities need social interaction and opportunities to get out among friends and peers. They also need to do things like go to the doctor or dentist, shop for basic needs, cook a meal or clean their living area. Will the caregiver be able to assist with day-to-day living tasks that extend beyond the boundaries of the home? Do they have reliable transportation, for example, or would you need to set aside a vehicle for them to use for those activities?

6. How would the caregiver handle conflicts or issues of noncompliance?

We’d like to think that if we find the perfect caregiver, conflict will never be an issue, but that’s simply not realistic. What you can do is find a caregiver who is committed to handling conflict, emotional upsets or issues of noncompliance in a positive manner. Most experienced providers have a number of strategies in their toolbox to de-escalate and work through challenging situations, and they should be able to talk about them.

7. What procedures are in place to deal with emergencies or difficult situations?

Accidents happen, and when they do, they often happen quickly and need an immediate response. Your caregiver should have set guidelines that they can follow if an emergency happens or a situation becomes difficult or potentially dangerous. Equally important, you need to know what those procedures would be and feel comfortable with them well in advance of an accident happening.

8. What are the expectations regarding the involvement of family members?

In-home care providers work in the home, so expecting interaction with family members and guests is only reasonable. You need to be able to strike a balance between being respectful of what the caregiver is trying to accomplish and being able to give valuable input as your loved one’s advocate. Especially for elderly individuals and people with disabilities, family members want regular confirmation that their loved one is receiving steady quality care that will keep them safe.

9. Does your family member feel comfortable with and trust the caregiver?

You may like the potential caregiver, but what’s even more important is that your loved one has a good feeling about the time they’ll be spending with this person. Age, illnesses, injuries and medical procedures can slow people down. Medications can affect everything from a person’s balance to appetite or emotional state. Personal care and even housekeeping can be sensitive subjects. Your family member should have the sense that the caregiver likes them, is responsive and wants to help them.

10. What are the in-home care provider’s professional credentials?

Whether you’re working with an agency or foundation that provides in-home care and living assistance, or you’re considering a particular individual, you’ll want to ensure that they have the appropriate state certifications, education and training, background checks and references.

Finding the right in-home care provider for a loved one can be a complex decision. Ideally however, the right choice can give them the skilled assistance they need and put your mind at ease.

Arc of Acadiana may be the right choice for you and your loved one. We provide services to individuals with disabilities due to any number of causes—the aging process, stroke or illnesses and injuries, for example. We care for individuals in their own homes as well as individuals who live with their families. Our goal is to provide assisted living that keeps the people who need our help safe and as independent as possible for as long as possible. If someone you care about could benefit from an in-home care provider, reach out to Arc of Acadiana, and let us help you find your perfect match.