Five years ago my grandmother had a stroke. She was 83 years old and one of the strongest people in our lives, but now she was suddenly vulnerable and in need of full-time care. While grieving the loss of her mobility and independence, we felt completely unprepared and in a hurry to find quality care as soon as we could.
At the time we had no experience with interviewing and hiring caregivers, but we knew how important it was to find the right fit for both my grandmother and my grandfather who would be in the home with her. Over time we learned how important it is to interview as many candidates as possible until you find the right fit. Most importantly, we grew more aware of the traits that were ‘must-haves’ when hiring a senior caregiver specifically for my grandmother, and traits we could be more flexible with.
If you’re in the process of hiring a caregiver, it may be helpful to think carefully about ‘must-haves’ that are important specifically for your family members, and discuss them with the individual who will be cared for. Keep in mind that as you interview more candidates, you can adjust your job ad so that you will attract candidates who more closely match your criteria.
Here is our list of ‘must-haves’:
My grandmother was paralyzed down one side and needed her caregiver to help her get out of bed, lift her into her chair, shower her and dress her. Someone who was inexperienced with these things would struggle to make transitions from bed to sitting in a chair stress free for both the caregiver and my grandmother.
Given her disabilities, my grandmother was understandably very uncomfortable most of the time and at times she would get stroppy. She would also be direct with her caregivers as she wasn’t able to speak in long sentences. Someone who could empathize with her condition and show understanding for why she was acting in this way, would make life easier for my grandmother and for themselves.
Attention to individual needs
Caregivers who adjusted their techniques to account for my grandmother’s special circumstances would make sure she was not left sitting in an uncomfortable position or in pain. My grandmother was paralysed down her right side, and her right arm was extremely sensitive and needed to be handled with care.
A sense of humour
Laughter is contagious, even in the toughest of times. We grew to realize that my grandmother was most affectionate with the caregivers who had a sense of humour and could chat with her with ease about how uncomfortable she must be and make light of the situation.
It was important to us that we could trust the caregivers that we left alone with my grandmother and grandfather. We could tell by the way my grandparents reacted to the arrival of a caregiver how well we could trust them. We also developed strong relationships with many of the caregivers and were most often in awe of how kind they were and how well they did their job.
A commitment to their job
Many of my grandmother’s caregivers loved their job and made this obvious to everyone around them. This made it easier for us to have open communication with them about her needs and what changes could be made when necessary.
Have you hired a senior care for someone in your family? What lessons have you learned along the way?