Questions to Ask about Caregiving Assistance

What Kind of Caregiving Assistance Do I Need; Important Questions To Ask:

By: Audrey R. Miller MSW, RSW, GCM, CCRC, CCLCP

As a Geriatric Care Manager, I receive inquiries from families regarding assistance for themselves and their older family members. There may come a time when a family members says: “ I just can’t do it anymore all by myself”. Along with the decision to explore caregiving assistance, there are many questions that usually follow. What assistance is needed? Will it be few hours per day, a few hours per week, or is it full time 24 hour assistance that we need?

For families wanting to proceed on their own, here is a list of questions/issues to consider:

1. What type of care is required? Do I need a:

Registered Nurse: Their typical duties include:

o Assess patients to identify appropriate nursing interventions

o Administer medications and treatments as prescribed by a physician or according to establish policies and protocols

o Monitor, assess, address, document and report symptoms and changes in patients’ conditions

o Operate or monitor medical apparatus or equipment

o Assist in surgery and other medical procedures

Registered Practical Nurse: Their typical duties include:

o RPNs assess clients’ conditions and chart progress.

o They care for wounds, change dressings and give medications.

o They care for clients as disease progresses and through the palliative stages.

Personal Support Worker: Their typical duties include:

o Observes and reports clinical and treatment information, behavioral changes

o Assists with range of motion exercises and other rehabilitative measures

o Takes and records blood pressure, temperature, pulse, respiration, body weight and height

o Assists with ambulating and mobilization of patient

o Assists with personal hygiene

o Assists with meal preparation, grocery shopping, dietary planning, food and fluid intake

Companion: Their typical duties include:

o Non medical assistance

oAssists with meal preparation, shopping, pet care, letter writing

oProviding conversation

2. What do I need?

o In-home respite care during the day only?

o Care away from home during working hours , such as participation in an adult day program?

o 24 hour full time care over a weekend or longer?

3. If I want to bring in care, do I want to hire from a home health care agency or do I want to hire privately? Understanding the advantages of each option is important. Some issues to consider include:

o Making sure that references, experience and qualifications are in place

o Is the person bonded?

o Is there insurance coverage?

o Is there illness coverage for this caregiver should they get sick?

o Should I consider sponsoring someone?

o Can I pay by cash or credit card?

o How often does the person get paid and who bills me?

o Is the services tax deductible?