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Working With the Home Care Aide: Communicate Responsibilities Clearly

Once you have hired a home care worker, set up clear lines of communication. Be sure that both you and the worker have a solid understanding of your responsibilities to the older person and to each other. Explain what you want done and how you would like it done, keeping in mind that the home care worker is there to care for the older person and not the rest of the family. If the home care worker lives in, try to ensure that he or she has living quarters that give you, the older person and the worker the maximum amount of privacy possible.

Other important issues to discuss with the worker include the following:

  • The worker's salary, including when he or she wil be paid
  • Reimbursement for money the worker may spend out of pocket for gas, groceries, etc.
  • Use of the worker's car or your car on the job, insurance coverage for the worker's car, or other transportation arrangements
  • Vacation time, holidays, days off, lateness
  • What to do if the health care aide is sick
  • The amount of notice each of you should give if the arrangement is terminated

You should have a list of home care agencies, neighbors, or family members who can help out if the home care worker is late, sick, or absent from work. In addition, be sure to discuss and provide written documentation of your older relative’s needs and preferences, for example:

  • Dietary needs, preferences, and restrictions
  • Problems with mobility or other tasks
  • Medication regimen
  • Illnesses and signs of an emergency
  • Possible behavior problems and how to deal with them
  • Therapeutic exercises
  • Dentures, glasses, and prosthesis
  • Routines and habits
  • Contacts in case of an emergency
  • Security precautions and keys

Stay Involved and Aware

Set up methods for you and the aide to communicate. This may be through a variety of ways, such as a daily journal for the aide to track your older relative’s progress as well as regular weekly (or every-other-week) meetings to review the status and the situation. Maintaining a strong, open relationship with the aide is a good way to minimize problems. When situations arise, they can be dealt with quickly.

A few safety precautions are wise, too. For example, protect your older relative’s private papers and valuables, make arrangements to pick up the mail yourself, and check the phone bill for unauthorized calls. It is best to "play it safe."

Be alert to signs of abuse. If you are suspicious, take steps to correct the issue immediately.

While home care may not necessarily be less expensive than nursing home care or assisted living, it offers older people and their families the opportunity to remain at home and together. What is more, it affords a degree of flexibility and choice for the elderly that few other living arrangements can offer.

Content provided with permission from HealthGate Data Corp. Copyright © 2004 HealthGate Data Corp.


For more information or to discuss elder care concerns please contact Partners Employee Assistance Program at 1-866-724-4EAP.

In case of emergency, please call 911 or your local hospital emergency service.

This content was last modified on: 06/30/2008

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In case of emergency, please call 911 or your local hospital emergency service.

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