Evaluating caregivers for your older adult
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Caregiver Oversight – Ensuring the Best Care for Your Older Adult

Hiring someone to provide in-home care for your older adult can be a stressful exercise. No matter how reputable the agency appears to be, it’s hard to know the individual providing the care will give reliable, compassionate care. You want to be sure your loved one is consistently receiving a positive experience and that their physical, cognitive and emotional needs are being met.

There are a number of tactics you can use to monitor the caregiver’s activities. Here are 3 simple ways to discreetly check in and assess how they are managing your older adult’s care.

Knowing the relationship between your older adult and caregiver is a healthy positive one will allow you to breathe easy and go about your day with peace of mind.

3 Things You Can Do

Number 1: Drop by unexpectedly or call to check in.

A very effective strategy is simply to drop in without notice. This allows you to quickly assess the caregiver in action and your loved one’s state of mind. By doing regular unannounced visits, you are signaling to the caregiver that you are keeping a close eye on your loved one’s care.

Look for the following signs to determine the quality of care:

  • The caregiver is glued to their cell phone while your older adult is watching TV.  If this is a consistent occurrence, it’s a red flag
  • Your older adult is clean, dressed and appears well groomed
  • They are engaged in an activity that promotes physical fitness or cognitive stimulation
  • Your older adult appears calm, relaxed and engaged

If you can’t drop in regularly, you can also take the following steps:

  • Introduce a neighbour or family member to the caregiver as a trusted friend. Then ask them to drop in unannounced 
  • Call your loved one and ask targeted questions about how they are and what they are doing
  • Or, if your loved one cannot come to the phone, speak to the caregiver and ask them to give you a run down of the day’s activities

Number 2: Ask your caregiver for a daily activity log.

It’s important to establish a professional business relationship with the caregiver.  Ask them to journal their daily activities and document:

  • Cognitive activities – any activities that help stimulate the brain such as memory games or learning new skills
  • Physical activities – activities that help stretch and build/preserve muscle mass
  • Older adults mood and emotional state
  • Timing of medication, bathroom visits, naps
  • Appetite and food consumed
  • Questions, problems encountered, any injuries and the cause

Number 3: Ask your older adult for feedback about their caregiver.

Go directly to the receiver of care to ask them how they are feeling about their caregiver. Yes, it is possible their feedback may be biased by their desire to have no caregiver, however, asking the right questions can help you discern the difference. Ask questions like:

  • What did you do today?  Did you enjoy it?
  • What was the highlight of your day and why?
  • What happened today that you would prefer not happen again. Why?
  • Was the caregiver gentle when helping you get washed up and dressed?

When asking these questions carefully watch your older adult’s body language, tone and emotional state. Non verbal clues can help you notice if something doesn’t seem quite right.  Don’t be afraid to ask more questions and dig deeper.  Make sure what your older adult tells you lines up with the journal entries noted by the caregiver.

The most important thing is to remain open to listening without judgment.  This approach will foster trust and encourage your older adult to open up and share positive and negative feedback about their care.  

Trust Your Instincts

Don’t dismiss your initial gut reaction when assessing the caregiver. Whether you’re checking in unannounced, calling, reviewing the caregiver’s daily activity log or getting feedback from your loved one – your instincts won’t let you down. Let them guide your assessment and actions to make sure your loved one is getting the best possible care.

They deserve compassionate, competent care in their older years and you will be comforted in knowing they are in good hands.

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