Interviewing Caregivers

When the time comes to discuss your loved one’s senior care options, choosing a caregiver is one of the most important decisions families face. Start by determining the type of care that is needed so you can identify potential caregivers. Keep in mind that the perfect caregiver for a senior in need of a companion will be different than a senior in need of hands-on care.

According to Cathy Callahan, a member of the CareFamily board of directors with over 30 years of human resources experience, there are four aspects that should be taken into account when beginning a caregiver search:

1. Inventory of skills your loved one requires
2. Availability
3. Chemistry
4. Compensation range

Once potential caregivers are found, a careful interview can determine the best fit for your senior. Interviews can be done in person, by telephone or by Skype, but face to face is the preferable form, according to Callahan. Taking detailed notes and including siblings in the interviews are important to distinguish between each perspective caregivers and ensure that the perfect caregiver is chosen.

During the interview, take into account the caregiver’s chemistry with your loved one. Shared interests or common hobbies and activities can help put your loved one at ease about having a caregiver’s assistance. Often, the chemistry match between a senior and a caregiver is as important as the skill match.

Red flags that an interviewer should look for are frustration in dealing with seniors, inability or hesitation to provide references, failing a background check, inability to feel comfortable answering and asking questions, or inexplicable unemployed time between jobs.

Questions to ask:

1. How have you applied your specific skills to senior caregiving?
2. What do you enjoy about caregiving?
3. What do you dislike about caregiving?
4. Ask about previous experiences and references.
5. Describe a typical situation with your senior loved one. (“My mother is easily confused. Occasionally she will turn the oven on and forget about it. How would you handle that situation?”)
6. Describe the personality of the senior and notice of the potential caregiver reacts.
7. Ask about the caregiver’s pay rate and if the rate would change for nights, weekends or holidays.

Questions NOT to ask:

1. What is your religious affiliation?
2. How many children do you have?
3. Do you own a car? (if no transportation is required for the job description)
4. Are you married?
5. How old are you?
6. What is your ethnicity?

Following these tips will ensure that you are your family can make an informed decision about your loved one’s caregiver.