7 Hidden Risks of Hiring a Caregiver on Your Own

By Ron Gold, CEO, LeanOnWe

Hiring a caregiver for yourself or a loved one can be a crucial decision and it's essential to be aware of the potential risks involved when doing so on your own. Here are seven critical areas to consider – and they are areas where LeanOnWe can help smooth the process.

Risks of Do-it-Yourself Hiring

  1. Qualifications and background checks
  2. Misalignment of expectations
  3. Payment issues
  4. Emotional vulnerabilities
  5. Unreliable services and absences
  6. Difficult termination
  7. Lack of support and resources

1. Qualifications and Background Checks

There’s a risk in hiring someone with insufficient training or the proper experience for your specific needs.

You can mitigate this by always requesting and verifying credentials, certifications, and references. But it is impossible to do a thorough caregiver background check on your own. This is an area where LeanOnWe can help.

At LeanOnWe, background checking is job one. We personally:

  • Interview each caregiver (yes, all 1,500+ caregivers on our network)
  • Speak to multiple references for each one
  • Verify credentials such as health care licenses, college degrees, and more
  • Confirm eligibility to work in the United States, and
  • Complete the highest possible level of local, state, and national background check – the gold standard, in-person FBI fingerprint background check – which cannot be done on your own. (Note that Internet background checks are incomplete, often inaccurate, and far, far less comprehensive.)

2. Unclear Expectations and Duties

Most Americans have never hired an employee. And if you have, hiring a caregiver for the very personal job of in-home care is a far cry from hiring an office, retail, or factory worker.

It’s easy for expectations to be misaligned between caregivers and family members (especially when multiple family members are involved) – and that’s when frustration, resentment, and less attentive care can start brewing.

Caregivers might underestimate the demanding nature of a role, while families might overestimate the home health aide's capabilities or expect them to do tasks beyond their scope or job requirements. Be sure to discuss the job in detail with each home health aide candidate.

When this happens, many families will stick it out, fearing the unknown with the next caregiver or lacking the time or resources to find a replacement. That is rarely the best solution for the patient.

With LeanOnWe, you’ll never feel “stuck” with a caregiver you hired. We’ll help guide the conversations you have with your caregiver to get everyone on the same page. And you’ll always have the opportunity to interview and hire other, highly vetted, highly recommended caregivers at no extra charge.

3. Unregulated Employment and Payment Issues

Unregulated caregiver employment carries significant risks.

Patients could face legal and financial liability for issues like worker injuries, wage theft, or lack of insurance. Unpaid taxes and failure to offer certain benefits could land you in hot water, while caregivers might lack job security, proper compensation and benefits, and essential protections like minimum wage and overtime.

You can eliminate most risks by using a traditional home care agency, which employs the caregiver, sends you one of their workers, and takes care of employment-related issues.

But if you’re like most Americans and prefer to have choice and control of your loved one’s care, hiring on your own with the help of a service like LeanOnWe gives you the benefit of proper payroll set-up with access to important information about labor laws and taxes, benefits, and minimum wage so you can set up a responsible caregiving environment from the get-go.

4. Isolation and Emotional Vulnerabilities

Unknowingly hiring an emotionally unsuitable caregiver can lead to neglect, abuse, or exploitation of vulnerable loved ones.

Pay close attention to interactions between the caregiver and the patient. Make note of anything out of the ordinary and keep records of your interactions.

Be sure to establish open communication with the caregiver and family members to monitor potential issues, drop by unannounced often, and find a way to regularly speak to your loved one privately.

If you or other family members are not in a position to undertake this very important role, turn to LeanOnWe for more information about the options available to you.

5. Unreliable Services and Unexpected Absences

Going the private-hire route for a home health aide offers flexibility, but beware of unforeseen downsides.

Unreliable services and unexpected absences are a real concern. You should plan for last-minute cancellations, inconsistent care quality, or even caregiver burnout.

While you may believe it to be cost-effective to do it yourself, managing all aspects of home care and ensuring consistent, professional care is a significant, added responsibility.

6. Difficulty Resolving Disputes and Terminating Employment

Finding the right caregiver is only half the equation.

Once hired, unclear expectations or personality clashes could arise. Disagreements over pay, overtime, or benefits can escalate. The caregiver's own unexpected circumstances may prompt a resignation or concerns about abuse or neglect could lead to dismissal and potential legal action.

In most states, caregivers are at-will employees, meaning they can leave the job at any time and they can be terminated at any time. It’s important to establish clear communication, write a plan of care and responsibilities, and keep open channels for resolving issues before they get out of hand.

LeanOnWe can help guide you to ensure that both you and your caregiver are on the same page.

7. Lack of Support and Resources

Navigating the complexities of home care can be overwhelming.

Families who hire caregivers on their own do so without support and resources. This leads to a risk of burnout and isolation, as well as financial strain from unplanned costs, emergencies, increased need for help, or changes in the care set-up.

Be sure to research and utilize available resources in your area, such as local support groups and health organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association and the Parkinson’s Foundation.

At LeanOnWe, customers are supported in a myriad of ways by industry-wise Care Advisors taking the lead on creative solutions and thoughtful advice – knowledge that comes from working with hundreds and hundreds of families over the years.

Avoid These Hiring Risks – Hire via LeanOnWe

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when trying to find the best care for yourself or a loved one. But don’t go it alone – lean on LeanOnWe before you hire as well as while in-home care is ongoing. LeanOnWe is there to help every step of the way.

For more insightful input, check out LeanOnWe’s no-nonsense guide to home care and schedule a no-obligation consultation with one of our caring, experienced Care Advisors.

About The Author

When an out-of-control SUV barreled into Ron's bicycle on a quiet road in New Jersey in 2011, the accident left him paralyzed and in need of home care every day. And when he experienced countless problems finding reliable, affordable private caregivers, Ron knew there had to be a better way. He founded LeanOnWe with a focus on delivering a better, more thoughtful home care experience at a reasonable cost. Learn more