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caregivers

Blog entry posted by Andrew, Dec 27, 2010.

There are people whose job is helping disabled people. The job title for these people is Caregiver. These are people who will help you with almost everything in your day to day routine. They will do your laundry, take out your trash, prepare meals, help you with your mail, help you fill out medical forms, drive you to the doctor, run errands, do light house work, keep you company, and more. And depending on the agency, some will help you with bathing.

Some agencies insist that you hire someone full time. Others allow for as little as a three-hour block of time, as infrequently as you like. Some charge more than $50 per hour; others less than $20 per hour. Some assign a social worker to you (in addition to a caregiver); others do not. You will also have to pay extra for driving. Some charge a flat rate per mile, others only ask you pay for gas. But if they use your car to drive you, there is no extra cost.

The best way to search for a Caregiver in your area is via Google using the terms home care or senior care. You can also search on caregiver, but that was actually the least fruitful method I tried. I suggest you telephone as many as possible and make a list of cost, minimum time, whether caregivers can handle cash for shopping, how they screen their workers, how much advance notice is needed, etc. Then go over your list and decide

Chances are the next step will be an interview with you. The agency rep will come out to evaluate your situation. This would be a good time for you to get more details about the service.

I signed up with two caregiver agencies, so I had a backup in case one was not coming through. I picked two that were the least expensive per hour, required the fewest minimum hours per visit, and that had a phone number where I would reach a person instead of a recording. The agencies I picked are Home Instead, and Homewatch Caregivers. These are franchises with offices around the country.

Ive also hired caregivers directly. This cost me about half of what I pay an agency. But the disadvantage was I had to work around their schedules and find backups in case they got sick or had car problems. To give you an idea of how much you might pay a caregiver directly, my research found a pay range of $9 to $12 per hour and milage from $58 cents a mile down to just the cost of gas. My research was for Los Angeles County, so adjust according to where you live.

If you watch the news long enough, you will see stories about people being exploited by caregivers. So I try not to get lazy. I dont hand over pin numbers, and I check my accounts. In other words, no matter how nice the person seems, be alert. And Id offer more advice on how to do this, but Im still figuring this out. I can tell you, though, Ive never had a problem in the two years Ive had several different caregivers in my home.

By the way, a friend of mine told me she once had a caregiver who came out for free. This was done via a philanthropic organization. I have no idea how to find this kind of help. If anyone knows, please post the information in a comment here.
  1. Andrew
    Thanks, Meadowlark. I hope other Canadians see your post.
  2. meadowlark
    I'm in Ontario, and on government disability. When I became bedbound, my GP simply filled out a form to that effect, and a government social worker came around to look at my circumstances. It took her about five minutes to decide that I deserved a "personal care worker." So a year ago, I began to receive four hours a week from a caregiver, absolutely free of charge. She is a marvel, and has made a huge difference in my life (shopping, cleaning, cooking, laundry, helping me into the tub when I feel unsteady.) She cares for three or four people a day, six days a week, and genuinely loves it.

    The social worker who did the "review" had also put me in touch with several caregiving agencies who could help if I needed more than four hours of help. They are staffed entirely with volunteers, and one of them now accompanies me to the doctor, as I can't open cab doors or sit in those painful waiting room chairs. She also goes into the appt. with a checklist of subjects I wished to discuss, and makes sure I bring them up.

    On Christmas Eve day, every agency I had contacted sent me a care package. Believe me, when you're on government disability, free toothpaste means a lot.

    It was hard for me to admit that I needed help, hard to accept it, and for a long time, hard to feel comfortable while a stranger bustled around my kitchen. Now I am simply full of wonder that there are people who do this, cheerfully and well, whether they're paid or not. (I happen to know that my government care worker is horribly underpaid.)

    My sister forced me to approach my GP about this in the first place. But if she hadn't nagged me about it ... and if Canada didn't have a system in place ... I wouldn't have known where to turn or how to get started, especially since I live on a fixed and very limited income.

    So .... to any Canadians out there, I urge you to ask your GP if there's anything available to you. (I don't know if my being on government disability was essential to qualifying for this.)

    In Ontario, you can also find charities that provide caregivers gratis if you google Ontario 211. That will take you to a site that lists all the registered charities in the province, and you can refine your search from there. I'm sure that Ontario isn't the only Canadian province with this service.

    There must be a way to google charity caregivers in the U.S.

    I once met a man with Parkinsons who found help by calling an AIDS organization and asking them if they had any contacts he could use. That was a decade ago, but I imagine the HIV community is still very active in taking care of their own, and might pass along some ideas.
  3. Andrew
    Thanks for the comments. A few years ago I was wondering who the heck I could hire to help me out, and how much to pay. I didn't realize there was a job classification of caregiver. I also had no idea how much to pay if I hired someone directly, or what I could reasonable ask someone to do. As a result I struggled alone until someone told me how to get started. I hope this helps someone else.
  4. Merry
    Andrew, I did't realize that you blog. Now I know! Thanks for the useful information. Well-organized, clearly-written. Thanks.
  5. Nico
    Andrew, these were very thoughtful ideas and comments. Thank you for posting.