A friend and I were having a casual conversation regarding the costs of hiring a 24 hour caregiver. Her sister was having difficulty caring for a spouse with dementia. I told her that in the western suburbs of Chicago Illinois, the figure I was quoted was somewhere in the area of $230-$240 per day. Someone overheard me and said, “Oh no, you can get a live in for much cheaper than that. When I hired a caregiver for my parents, they only paid $120 per day.” My response was, “The arrangement you made for them was not through a licensed agency. Trust me, you probably talked to a staffing agency who found you the person that fit your needs. There is a big difference.”
If you are considering home health care for a loved one, the agency should be a member of the Home Care Association of America (formerly the National Private Duty Association). Without going into a lot of detail, the agencies who are members of the association In Illinois hold a license. They adhere to a code of ethics. A licensed agency, in opposition to an independent contractor or staffing agency (as the person I referenced was talking about), is responsible for the screening, training, and back round checks of the staff among other things. Some choose to test test for drug and alcohol use. If you choose to hire an unlicensed caregiver you will be assuming all the responsibilities of an employer, and may have no recourse if something goes wrong. What may appear as savings in the short- term may have long term repercussions as exemplified in the following Real Life Story.
Real Life Story
The client was a woman in her late 60’s. She had a diagnosis of a debilitating disease that left her bound to a wheelchair, and needed assistance with all of her activities of daily living (ADL). That is, eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring, and walking. She needed total assistance from a sit to stand position, a feat that was well-accomplished by one caregiver. She lived in her own home with two full-time caregivers. One caregiver assisted her from the late afternoon into the evening, and supposedly held a nursing degree at one point in time. Yet, she was no longer licensed. The other was an unlicensed caregiver who assisted her from mid-morning until late afternoon. Thus, there was a gap in care from the late evening to the next morning. The caregiver who had the nursing credentials was being paid three times the amount of the unlicensed caregiver. Both caregivers were employed by her for over ten years.