How to hire a carer: 10 ways to ease the pain of getting help

HERE expert Sigrid Daniel suggests ways to make the process of finding care for an elderly relative easier

There are ways to make finding a carer for an elderly parent or loved-one easier

If you have an elderly relative who is facing the challenges that come with advancing age, they may cling to what remains of their previous selves.

Their car might become a symbol of independence; their home filled with memories of better times.

To give these up may feel like a step too far but there are ways to approach the subject of care to make things seem manageable and less intrusive.

Here is a 10-step guide to introducing care for an elderly relative:

1. Start early

Ideally families have relaxed conversations about caregiving long before a health crisis. Look for opportunities to ask questions such as: “Where do you see yourself getting older?” or “How would you feel about hiring someone to clean and go to the shops for you?”

2. Be patient

Ask open questions and give your loved one time to answer. Conversations may be repetitive and tangential but persevere and you will eventually reach an arrangement that suits them and gives a sense of control.

3. Don’t be brushed off

Ask questions to determine why an older person refuses help; is it about a lack of privacy, fears about the cost, losing independence or having a stranger in the house? Listen with empathy and validate rather than dismiss your loved one’s feelings.

4. Offer options

If possible include your parent or grandparent in deciding what help is needed and give them the opportunity to consider potential providers. Let them choose the days or times that they would like a carer’s visit, encourage them to see a carer as a companion.

5. Recruit outsiders

Sometimes it’s easier for an elderly relative to talk to a professional rather than a family member. Don’t hesitate to ask a doctor, nurse or community leader to broach the subject of their care needs.

6. Prioritise problems

Make a list of your concerns and your parent’s problems, number each point depending on its urgency and another for steps that should or have been taken to resolve the problems. This will help keep you from feeling overwhelmed.

7. Use indirect approaches

Sometimes – particularly when dealing with someone suffering from dementia – offering less information may be more effective.  Let your parent know that a carer will be coming to help them on a particular day but do not feel you have to explain every detail of what this will entail.

8. Check out a carer’s credentials

In initial conversations with potential carers, ask them to submit a background or Disclosure and Barring checks (formerly known as a CRB check). These search through criminal records and other sources, including the Police National Computer.

9. Interview until it feels right

It is essential that you meet with a potential career but first screen your applicants over the phone. It’s always good to prepare questions for carer to see if they suit your needs and judge whether they will be able to provide what you need in terms of flexibility and experience.

The first meet should then be in a public meeting place. If things go well, you could then introduce them to your parent or elderly relative. Perhaps a first step could be an outing to a coffee shop or asking them to assist with a shopping trip.

10. Accept your limits

As long as they are not endangering themselves or others, let your parent make their own choices. You can’t be by their side at all times and will not be able to prevent every bad thing from happening, so accept what you can accomplish and don’t feel guilty if you have to say “no”.

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