6 Common Caregiver Myths Debunked

By Denise Kuhbier, MS, RN, LNHA, CCM, Senior Vice President of Care, LeanOnWe

Home care can be confusing and there are many misconceptions surrounding some of the basics. Here are six commonly held myths.

Myth #1 A live-in caregiver works 24/7

A live-in caregiver as the name suggests is a trained professional aide who lives at the client’s home, providing consistent companionship to those needing assistance. They help with daily living tasks, medication management, and personal care, providing a comforting alternative to assisted living facilities. They don’t work 24 hours a day but rather have scheduled meals and other breaks during the day as well as a whole night of uninterrupted sleep.

A live-in caregiver provides personalized care while living in the care recipient’s home. In contrast, 24/7 care, as the name implies, provides assistance every hour of the day (even when the care seeker is sleeping) and therefore involves several caregivers working in shifts throughout the day and night. It provides nonstop care but is more expensive as multiple caregivers are needed to cover every hour of every day.

Myth #2: Medicare covers the cost of home care

Most Medicare and Medicare supplements or other private health insurance plans do not cover non-medical home care. Medicare will cover very short-term, intermittent care services in the home through a licensed agency. For example, Medicare may pay for a physical therapist to come to your home 2-3 times per week after a change in your condition to help you regain mobility so that you can stand to make dinner, take a shower, etc. But you should not expect Medicare to pay for someone to prepare meals, give you medication, take you to the doctor, do laundry, or do light housekeeping when you cannot do these things yourself.

Myth #3: Home care costs too much

Relative to other care options, home care is more affordable because of the flexibility of the number of hours or the rate of pay. When choosing care at home, as opposed to a nursing home or assisted living, you are able to hire a caregiver for any number of hours to meet your needs and your budget.

Myth #4: I have no say about who comes into my home

Reputable home care companies will try to match caregivers with seniors of similar interests, but more often than not, the caregiver sent to you is the caregiver who is available from a limited pool of options. You should make sure that a company’s caregivers are screened, skilled, and insured, and that thorough background and reference checks have been completed. The company should also offer flexibility in setting up a schedule – and be sure they’ll provide backup and replacement caregivers when needed.

Myth #5: Home care companies have to meet standards for quality of care, proof of liability coverage, and ethical business practices

Though the word “agency” is commonly used to refer to many home care service providers, it actually only applies to companies that provide services defined and regulated by the state. The degree of government oversight varies from state to state and structure to structure.

How well a company delivers on its promise and whether or not it conducts business ethically can nearly always be determined by consumer reviews. We recommend engaging with a company that has a robust variety of customer feedback.

Myth #6: I can pay my caregiver as a 1099 independent contractor

The IRS and many states may require caregivers and other household employees who meet a certain wage threshold to be processed with a Form W-2 and not with a 1099 form. It is the responsibility of anyone who hires a caregiver to follow all applicable federal and state labor laws and regulations, and it is always recommended that you consult your accountant or attorney for guidance specific to your city and state.

About The Author

Denise has been working in home care for more than 25 years. She is a Registered Nurse, a Certified Case Manager, an Aging Life Care Professional™, and a Nursing Home Administrator. At LeanOnWe, she oversees the screening of all caregivers and helps new customers hire caregivers for themselves or their loved ones.