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8 Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Professional Caregiver

The decision to retain home care services is a big one. Will Mom or Dad be OK with someone coming into the home? Will they get along? Is it the right fit?

Just like any new relationship, the partnership between a care recipient and caregiver undergoes an initial awkward “getting to know you” phase. That’s common.

Think of finding a professional caregiver like a matchmaking service. There are questions you can ask to help increase the odds of a better match.

A reputable home care agency will put potential caregivers through a rigorous interview and hiring process; including background and reference checks, drug screenings, orientation and training.

You'll want to make sure the agency is bonded and insured (and licensed, if required in your location).

To help you identify the best match and increase the odds of a successful relationship,

here are eight questions to consider asking during an interview with a potential caregiver:

  1. What made you become a professional caregiver?

    You need someone who is going to take this assignment seriously, someone who will pay attention to detail and ensure your loved one's needs are met.

    Asking why a person chose to become a professional caregiver is a solid opportunity to learn what motivates that person.

    Look for sincerity and interest in response; it's an important conversation. But do know that any reputable home care agency will have already had this conversation well before they're considered for your assignment.

  2. Do you specialize in what’s ailing my loved one?

    Caregivers offer a wide range of skills, and you should ask about them in the initial interview.

    A good agency will have caregivers who are trained to handle specific needs, like for example a certified dementia care professional. Some caregivers will have other advanced or specialized training programs available to them through their agency.

    If your loved one has a history of falling, or if you’re worried about his or her balance, ask questions about a caregiver’s ability to help with fall prevention and fall-proofing the home.

  3. Are you quiet or talkative?

    You know your loved one better than anyone. Is he or she more extroverted or introverted? Extroverts may prefer a more social caregiver who likes casual conversation or someone who will indulge your loved one in reliving cherished memories.

    If your loved one is more of an introvert, he or she may tire of that quickly and may prefer someone who's quieter or willing to talk on your loved one's terms. 

    Of course it doesn't have to be so black and white. There are plenty of professional caregivers who can be both and adapt as necessary. It’s just a useful way to identify a potential match from the beginning.

  4. What kind of hobbies do you have?

    The lack of any interesting hobbies shouldn't be a deal-breaker; however, it's an excellent opportunity to surprise and delight your loved one. 

    Say, for example, your loved one used to love playing piano and has one in the home but can no longer play due to arthritis. Imagine his or her delight when a caregiver can sit with your loved one at the piano and start playing.

    Think of hobbies as another opportunity to identify a personality match and, at this stage in the game, that’s a useful goal.

  5. How often will you evaluate and update a written care plan?

    This question is critical because it says a lot about the agency.

    Care plans are not a static document. Care plans are living, breathing agendas that must be updated as necessary. They should be flexible and designed to provide just the right support for your loved one as his or her needs change.

    Ensure any potential caregiver agrees with this, and look for agencies that are constantly evaluating and updating care plans as needed. 

  6. What is your policy for communicating with a client and their family members?

    Many families decide to retain home care services from afar. Long-distance family members are common, and that makes communication paramount.

    Ask potential home care agencies how they plan to keep the family informed and when you can contact them. Accessibility is very important, so ensure your home care agency stresses an open line of communication and that they’ll be available when you need them.

  7. Can you give me examples of how you deal with a stressful situation?

    If you’ve had the role of caregiver, you already know how stressful the work can be.

    Maybe Mom or Dad’s in a bad mood, not being positive or cooperative. It’s easier for family to endure the kind of mood swings that can happen while giving care, but for a stranger it can be a lot harder to tolerate – unless you’re hiring a compassionate, professional caregiver.

  8. What kind of food can you cook? Have you had experience cooking for others?

    If your loved one will need meal prep, it’s important to know not only if your caregiver cooks, but also what kind of food he or she can make.

    Food is a fantastic problem-solver, so it helps if your caregiver can cook what your loved one enjoys.

    It shouldn't be a deal-breaker, but consider it another opportunity to identify potential commonalities between your loved one and the professional caregiver.

    And just imagine if your loved one has a particular passion for cooking but has trouble standing on his or her feet very long in the kitchen. Perhaps the caregiver can play "sous chef" to your loved one and they can cook together.

The bottom line is that your loved one needs a sociable, caring, nurturing person and someone dedicated to his or her craft: Providing Care. Asking the above questions is a great way to find the superior match.

Of course, utilizing a reputable agency known for outstanding home care can significantly mitigate the risk of a poor fit. Learn how to identify super home care services by clicking here.

Each Visiting Angels agency is a franchise that is independently owned and operated. The Franchisor, Living Assistance Services Inc., does not control or manage the day to day business operations of any Visiting Angels franchised agency.