Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Guiding Clients in Finding Care for Aging Parents

A challenge many clients face is caring for parents. For some, they add the responsibility into their daily routine. For others, life demands means finding the most suitable person who will assist with the care and comfort of the loved one. And for another group, it is finding a nursing home for the parent

A. Finding the Right Candidate:

One of the questions I am frequently asked is: “How do I find a suitable person to care for my parent?” Here are steps that will help:

Step 1: Advertise. A simple ad could read “Female needed part-time for personal care and housekeeping for older disabled woman. Flexible hours. Call 555-555-1234 after 7:00 pm.”

Step 2: Screen candidates. Before arranging an interview, create a job description listing basic duties and schedule. This will provide insight into the prospective employee’s experience and training.

Step 3: Interview candidates. Use the following questions as a guide:

• Tell me about yourself, your interests and hobbies.
• How do you feel about working with an elderly or disable person?
• Where have you worked before?
• Do you know about ________________? (ask about relevant illness or condition.
• Do you have any health or physical problems that might hinder you on the job? (ask about lifting, bending, ability to drive, etc.)
• What other obligations do you have (i.e. school, part-time job) that will affect your schedule?
• Do you have your own car? Would you be able to transport someone in a wheel chair?
• Is there anything in the job description that you would not do?
• Do you have any questions about the job duties, schedule or salary?
• Is there anything else you would like to add?
• Please give me two work-related references and one personal reference.

Step 4: Evaluate the candidate. After interviewing the candidate, take time to note impressions, concerns and gut feelings.

Step 5: Check references. Once having narrowed the choices, be sure to check the background of each candidate.

Step 6: Select the candidate and offer the position. Hiring a home care worker requires patience, trust and gut instincts. The time invested in screening candidates and checking references will greatly improve the chances of finding someone whose qualifications meet the care giving needs.

B. Nursing Home Care

Another situation sometimes facing a client is finding a nursing home for a parent who is no longer able to live on his/her own. Here are some tips to assist with the review of homes:

• Note the type and location of nursing home alternatives
• Are private and semi-private accommodations available?
• Do they have long-term care?
• What facilities are offered? (i.e. recreation, lounge, dining room)
• Check the staffing levels including Registered Nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants
• What equipment is available? (i.e. adjustable beds and chairs)
• Check quality measures and standards
• What are the visiting privileges?
• Are safety plans including fire evacuation procedures adequate?
• Is a doctor available day and night?
• Does the nursing home offer moving assistance?

Prior to deciding on a nursing home, check the home ownership. Is it run by an independent non-profit organization or a private company? Non-profits may offer more one-on-one care than private operations. Talk to the home administrator about quality standards, inspections and turnover of top-level staff members. Visit each home several times at different hours including day and night. Is there a discernable difference at various times?

As a caring advisor, you can guide clients in finding a suitable care worker or nursing home. It is my experience people facing these situations are very appreciative of direction. Your client will remember your generous assistance for a long time!

Richard (Rick) Atkinson, Founder and President of RA Retirement Advisors, is an expert in pre-retirement planning. He is author of the best-selling book, Don’t Just Retire – Live It, Love It! Rick facilitates workshops for clients of advisors and others. He is available for speaking engagements. Twitter: @dontjustretire.