There is always danger involved with the choice of hiring a non-licensed caregiver. This time, a disaster occurred right in my own backyard. The choice to hire a private caregiver directly instead of through an agency may have cost a North Riverside man his independence. Charlie Matuska, who is 79 years old, followed the advice of a neighbor (and friend) and hired David Kowalsky as a private caregiver.
Mr. Kowalky had cared for Mr. Matuska once before, prior to some hip surgery. At that time, Mr. Kowalsky had been employed by the Visiting Angels, a non-medical home care agency in Brookfield, Illinois. (Non-medical homecare agencies, like Visiting Angels, hold a license with the State of Illinois. Licensed agencies are responsible for the employer-employee relationships with their caregivers, conduct backround checks, adhere to a code of ethics, and participate in ongoing training). When it became apparent that Mr. Matuska needed to have a caregiver help him on a full-time basis, the friend assisted him with hiring Mr. Kowalsky on a full-time basis, but not through Visiting Angels.
Please note that this sort of hiring takes place all the time. If a caregiver starts out caring for a client through an agency, the client often hires them directly at a cost that is significantly lower. For instance, it was reported in the Landmark Newspaper, that Mr. Kowalsky was being paid $700.00 a week to care for Mr. Matuska. As a Certified Care Manager, I know the price of a 24-hour caregiver can cost $220-$240 a day in the western suburbs of Chicago. And by hiring a caregiver directly, a client will also forgo the supervision of agency management ie., the unannounced check-ins that are performed by a person of supervisory capacity to see the client is being cared for appropriately.
In this case, Mr. Matuska was only trying to avoid the dreaded move to a nursing home. But through the neglect of his caregiver, it looks like he is going to have to stay in a nursing home permanently. That’s because Mr. Matuska developed bed sores that were so large that he had to be taken to Loyola University Hospital in Maywood. Upon examination it was found that the bed sores had formed over a number of months. In addition, the senior was malnourished. Mr. Kowalsky had kept the bed sores hidden from visitors by covering them with long-sleeved clothing and sheets. The bed sores became so bad, Kowalsky called the paramedics himself and had Matuska taken to the hospital.
Mr. Kowalsky said it had become too hard to care for and move Mr. Matuska, and that he had not taken him to see a Doctor in over a year. He said he was afraid to report what had happened to Mr. Matuska for fear of the consequences. As a result, he has been arrested, charged with a felony, and is living at the Cook County jail with a bond of $100,000.
So here is the bottom line. First, look at the consequences one can face when hiring an unlicensed caregiver. Second, the advice from “friends” who are not involved in the senior living industry is not always the best advice. Third, always look into your caregiver’s background and ask the agency management about it. Read about Mr. Kowalsky’s backround in the article from The Landmark. It’s very interesting.
For all of your senior living needs, please call Andrea Donovan Senior Living Advisors.