How to Find & Hire a Private Caregiver

Hiring a caregiver to come into your home or to provide additional care in a facility can be nerve-wracking. How do you know who to trust? How do you know who will be a good fit? This article addresses those concerns and will help guide you through the process of hiring a private caregiver.

Some people find caregivers through a homecare agency or referral service in order to keep things simple. Hiring a private caregiver is usually the most inexpensive option, but it means you’ll need to do the work that an agency or referral service would normally do for you: as an employer, you’ll need to cover payroll taxes unless that person works as a contractor, and, to be on the safe side, you should also perform a background check.

Where to Find Private-hire Caregivers

* Ask for referrals from people you know and trust in the medical community, including discharge planners, physicians and social workers.
* Let people around you know that you’re looking to hire a caregiver. You may be surprised at how many leads you find, and word-of-mouth recommendations are sometimes the best ones.
* Search online job boards such as Craigslist.
* Place an advertisement in the newspaper or via online forums.

Assess Your Situation

Before calling any caregivers, make a list of what the job will entail and what your expectations are for hiring a professional caregiver. Be as detailed as possible. For example, telling a job candidate that you need someone to take care of your mom for three days a week only informs them that it is part-time work. Make notes on what is most important:

* When and how often do you need a caregiver? Is it likely to change soon? If so, will it be a problem?

* What duties would you like the caregiver to perform and how often? List out the duties and frequency (e.g, light housekeeping weekly, driving to doctor’s appointment as needed, and aiding with bathing every morning).

* Do you need any specialized care, such as for dementia or incontinence?

* What are the qualities a caregiver would need to make the environment safe and happy-patience, a sense of humor, or the ability to stand his or her ground? The caregiver you hire will be spending a lot of time with your loved one, so this is a significant issue. What are your loved one’s pet peeves? Disorder or messiness? Smoking in the home? Bring these up when you speak with the caregiver.

Caregivers are People, Too!

* Live-in caregivers should have a comfortable, private area set aside for them.
* Live-in caregivers cannot be on call all the time; everyone needs personal time.
* Make sure that shift lengths are reasonable.

Research Your Candidates

Once you’ve identified the caregiving duties, then you’re ready to screen candidates by phone and begin scheduling interviews. On the phone, explain what your needs are and make sure the candidate has experience, training and the physical capability to do tasks such as transferring or bathing (if applicable). Let them know you will be checking their references and performing a background check. Ask interviewees to come to the interview with a Social Security card, driver’s license, listings of prior home addresses and references, and a resumé. Download Gilbert Guide’s Caregiver Employment Sheet to help keep track of candidates.

Background Checks

Performing a background check on potential caregivers is imperative. Background checks can include credit reports, DMV records and searching county, state and/or federal criminal records. You must have written consent from the potential caregiver in order to perform a background check. Gilbert Guide’s Caregiver Employment Sheet has an authorization at the bottom of the form. Many law offices and private investigators can perform background checks using specialized databases; fees range from about $70-300 per hour. Online background check companies usually cost less, and most charge based on the scope of the search-for example, how many counties or states must be searched and what type of records you require. If you go this route, it’s helpful to have a list of the candidate’s previous addresses. Oftentimes search criteria can be even more specialized if you call the agency directly, rather than utilizing online forms, which are generalized.

The Interview

Interviews are always tricky because they require you to assess a person in a short amount of time. The following are a few questions and talking points for interviewing a candidate.

* How long have you worked as a caregiver?
* Tell me about your past work experience.
* What did you like or not like about your previous jobs-and why?
* Do you have any specialized training or experience?
* Are you willing to perform the following duties? (List the duties you require, including any future needs that you anticipate. If your loved one enjoys cooking but her arthritis may require need aid with cooking later see if the caregiver is willing to do so.)
* What activities do you think would be appropriate for my loved one?
* How would you deal with my loved one being combative?
* When are you happiest at work? (What makes work a good experience for you?)

A Note on Screening

Make sure you don’t have any discriminatory policies in your screening process. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that you ask for permission, in writing, before pulling a job candidate’s credit report. Also, if you do not hire that person based on his or her credit report, you must send the applicant a copy of the report, the contact information of the Consumer Reporting Agency and information on their rights to dispute the report.

During the interview, let applicants know everything you can about the job-think of details that would be important to you, if you were the employee. Some questions and concerns may include:

* People with whom the caregiver will need to interact (Do you have a policy about visitors? Will anyone be stopping by the home?)
* Tardiness or absenteeism
* Benefits and wages (When and how will the caregiver be paid?)
* Vacations and holiday pay
* Petty cash (Will you leave small amounts of money for expenses or will you reimburse the caregiver later? Be sure to require receipts if it’s the latter!)

I Don’t Have Time!

If time is an issue, hire a caregiver through an in-home care agency; the agency will perform all the background checks and match you with a caregiver who suits your needs.

Cheat Sheets are a Good Thing

Verbal instructions can be helpful, but don’t anticipate that a caregiver will remember everything you said on the first day. Write down important information so he or she will have a reference. Include details on the care recipient, the home and emergency protocols. Keep a copy in a central place in the home.

About the Care Recipient (see Gilbert Guide’s Face Sheet):

* Likes and dislikes
* Normal diet and any restrictions to it
* Any mobility issues
* Current medical status and/or illnesses (include any signs of an emergency)
* Possible behavior problems and how to best deal with them
* Any exercises or therapies (include schedule, if applicable)
* Medication list

About the Home or Apartment:

* Security precautions and keys
* Location of medical supplies
* Location of food and cooking items (include explanation of any related appliances)
* Location of cleaning and washing supplies (include instructions for appliances)
* Location of fuse box, flash lights, light bulbs and candles
* Location of clothing or extra linens

About Emergencies:

* Name and phone number of first person who should be contacted after 9-1-1
* Doctors’ names and phone numbers
* Other important contacts

A Well-run Home is a Happy Home

One of the most important things you can do with any employee is to keep the lines of communication open. It involves more than simply making your expectations clear (although that’s very important!). The following are a few hints on how to create a smooth-running and happy home.

* Schedule informal meetings. Ask the caregiver how things are going. Has he or she noticed any recent changes in your loved one’s health? Is there anything you can do to provide better support?

* Speak up. If you feel your expectations are not being met, let the caregiver know in a gentle but firm manner.

* Create a comfortable environment. The caregiver should have pleasant working conditions, with a comfortable place to take a break (or a comfortable room and bed for live-in help).

* Equip the caregiver with the tools for success. Provide the caregiver with the supplies necessary to do his or her job.

* Show your appreciation. Complimenting the caregiver’s work and skills, giving small gifts or bonuses, or providing perks such as partial or full travel reimbursement are all wonderful ways of expressing gratitude.

New Combi Boiler Installation – 14 Steps to Avoid For The Cowboys!

There is lots to consider when you are considering a new boiler installation. This guide will take you through the process from start to finish. This is quite a difficult task describing in words what a Gas Safe engineer does every day. Not all of the points will be relevant to your particular installation but this guide will at least give you an idea of what to expect from your new boiler and what to expect from an installer coming to your house.

Things to consider:
– Your budget – grants, loans and other schemes
– Finding an installer – getting 3 quotes
– The current water pressure of your system
– Your current system – layout/design and condition, boiler siting
– Your hot water demand – bathrooms, ensuites etc
– Choosing a boiler
– Upgrading your pipework – gas and water pipework
– Adding a MagnaClean
– Adding thermostatic radiator valves/room thermostat
– Adding additional radiators
– Powerflusing your system or flushing your system
– Commissioning your system
– Filling in the benchmark/notifying building control
– Advising the customer on how to get the best efficiency from their boiler
– Installers working to best practice

Your budget – grants, loans and other schemes

There are lots of schemes available depending on your circumstances. The new Boiler Scrappage Scheme is available to all households in England who have a G rated boiler in their home. It gives £400 towards the cost of a new boiler installation. There is also a scheme called the Warm Front Scheme which provides upto £3500 towards home heating and insulation improvements. To be eligible you must be on some sort of benefit or be a low income household. It is normally a bad idea to finance your boiler installation using a credit card or bank loan. Although there are cost benefits to be gained by having a new condensing boiler these will be eaten up by repaying the loan. If your current boiler is in good working order and you are worried about it breaking down then a British Gas homecare agreement is advisable at around £19 per month. An Npower agreement which offers less benefits is also available at around £7.99 per month.

Finding an installer – getting 3 quotes

You should aim for 3 quotes. This is more than adequate to get a good idea of what you want. Each individual engineer will give you different ideas on how best to go forward. They will also have their own favourite boilers and methods of working. It is a good idea to bounce ideas and questions around to ascertain whether the engineer is actually competent in the field he will be required to work within. Unfortunately there are lots of newly qualified plumbers and gas engineers in this industry and although they are perfectly safe and ‘passed off’ to work they may not be a) able to advise you of the most efficient method going forward, b) advise you completely wrongly or c) not actually have an answer. Sometimes it may be difficult to find someone you trust; after all, this will be a huge investment.

Often using the yellow pages can be a bad idea. So can using someone who posts leaflets through the door. The best and trusted method will always be by personal recommendation. Asking the engineer lots of questions can also give you some degree of confidence. Checking their Gas Safe registration should also be a priority. Unfortunately there are lots of illegal gas engineers operating and these people are putting lives at risk. Checking someones gas safe registration is very easy. Ask to see a Gas Safe registration card. Every engineer carries a card and it amazes me that 99.5% of customers do not ask for ID. Every engineer should be proud of their qualifications and love to show them off. Do not be shy and in future make a point of it.

Once you have got your 3 quotes you need to analyse what you are getting. Quotes should be broken down as much as possible. This will give you an idea of what exactly you are paying. I don’t understand how companies can justify listing a load of materials and specifications and then adding a figure. Costs should be fixed price costs whether you are a millionnaire or on a very low budget;)

It is best to get a written contract for your own benefit. If the company doesn’t offer one then you can easily draw one up. This will protect against faults that might develop later on after the system has been installed. If installed to best practice and following all manufacturers instructions then a central heating system will only rarely breakdown due to a manufacturer component fault. That is why respected installers offer a personal guarantee on all their work, this can be upto 5 years but 3 years is normal. This is alongside normal manufacturer guarantees which can be upto 5 years parts and labour. Other ways of finding an installer can be the internet however personal recommendation is always the best method.

The current water pressure of your system

Its very important to measure your mains water pressure to ascertain whether a combi will actually work. You might not have enough pressure for a combi system to work so this will need to be measured. A competent engineer will make sure that this is one of the first things he does. If you do have low pressure then your installation options will be limited. One example is when a mains pressure of 0.8bar from a customers property is measured. A certain Vaillant boiler which gives their full hot water output at just 0.5bar would be recommended by any competent engineer. This means that this boiler would be one of a very few boilers that could be considered for this customers property. It could have been a costly mistake not testing the mains water pressure and this is one reason why this should be done as standard. Having said all of the above, problems are very very rare. Your water company can advise on what your water pressure is likely to be if you are concerned. If for say you live on a very big hill you may have reasons for concern.

Your current system – layout/design and condition, boiler siting

Your current situation could have a large affect on cost of installation. Moving a boiler can add considerable expense as routing pipework can often be very tricky. Moving a boiler nearer the gas meter can sometimes cost the same as a straight swap. This is because the gas meter pipework upgrade will require less materials and less labour. Although some re-routing of water pipes will be required. If you need to upgrade from a system to a combi boiler this will be the costliest combi boiler installation. The system layout and pipework will need altering. The hot water cylinder and tanks in the loft will need removing. If you have a back boiler this will add time and expense on as well.

This can sometimes be difficult to remove as may cause the chimney to weaken. Your installer would be able to advise whether the removal of the back boiler is best left to a contracted a builder. If there is going to be new pipework in your property then it is desirable to have this under the floorboards and out of site. It makes for a better, cleaner job. Beware of companies wishing to take shortcuts or indeed charging more for lifting carpets and floorboards. There are strict rules governing where pipes are laid in joists. The size of notches can weaken joists and limits are set for this reason. It is simply unacceptable to hang pipes loose – even pipes containing water. Floorboards should be screwed back into place and not nailed as this will just cause the floorboard to loosen over time. Carpets and other fittings should be left as found. It is normally the customers responsibility to move furniture and other items that are in the way. This is due to responsibility issues. Common sense should always prevail of course.

If you have concrete floors then this can add a lot of expense as digging into the floor can be costly. The pipes will then need to be wrapped to ensure the concrete does not perforate them and this ultimately causes a leak under your floor. Fixing this leak will mean you having to re-dig the concrete and replacing the pipework. If done correctly and in accordance with manufacturers instructions its a very simple task. An engineer who is not in the know as regards to regulations can cause severe problems. Boiler siting can also cause problems sometimes. New condensing boilers may cause pluming issues and this can cross neighbour boundaries. Pluming kits are available and can eradicate this problem. Boiler flue terminal positions can also be a problem but these will be rare. The terminal needs to be a minimum 30cm away from window or door openings to stop products of combustion re-entering the property. If there is no other alternative than to put your boiler next to a window that is not in use then it will either need blocking up, ie cementing and bricking up or it will need screws put in so that it cannot open. Although the latter method is within the scope of the regulations it would be recommended better bricking it up.

Your hot water demand – bathrooms, ensuites etc

Even the lowest output of boiler (eg a 24KW) can, if installed correctly, cope with up to 14 radiators. When determining which boiler will suit your needs you should do some research on boiler hot water output capacities. Some smaller output boilers will deliver in the region of say 9 litres of water per minute at a certain temperature. Bigger models will produce 16 litres and more. This difference will be the difference between an OK shower or a very powerful shower. It will also affect how long a bath takes to fill up. You will also see an impact if you have two bathrooms ie a main bathroom and an ensuite bathroom. Larger sized boilers will just be able to cope with two showers used simultaneously. Smaller boilers will definitely not. You need to consider how this will affect you. Further advice can be given by your chosen installer.

Choosing a boiler

Choosing a boiler can be difficult. There are so many boilers out there that only an expert can guide you through your needs and match them up with a suitable boiler. The better makes of boiler are Viessmann, Worcester and Valliant although some of the models from these manufacturers have been horrendous. These will be the earlier models and any expert will know which models to steer well clear of. The Viessmann 100 model (earlier model) has teething problems but everything has been resolved now and this is one of the leading models on the market if not the best. Of course every engineer will have his/her own preferences but if you go to any forum in the UK and ask if the Viessmann boilers are any good I will guarantee you wont get an expert saying anything against them.

Boilers can typically range in price from £400 (B&Q) to £1400 (top Vaillant model) Although the £400 one will last for years and years if installed properly it is open to debate whether this boiler will last 10 years and even if it does, how much money you will have to spend on repairs? A great budget boiler is the Glowworm Betacom 24KW. For the price it represents very good value. It will depend on your budget and what you feel comfortable. It is always advisable to get quotes for different boilers and you can see for yourself prices differences. The price of the boiler will include all guarantees and if there are any issues with faulty manufacturer parts etc your installer will be responsible for this. Buying your own boiler and getting an installer to fit it can present many problems.

For example, is the boiler you are buying relatively new? It may look new, ie unopened packaging etc but it may have been sitting in a garage for 2 years. If a boiler is not installed within one year of its manufacture date it will void any warranty. Also, if any components are missing from your boiler then you will be ultimately responsible for lost time and expense. Most installers will not work this way for the above reasons as they simply do not know the history of the boiler and if a component fails after the boiler has been fitted it could cause significant problems.

Your installer will match your needs to a suitable boiler

Upgrading your pipework – gas and water pipework

Gas pipework used to be run in 15mm from the meter to the boiler. There are new rules which mean that pipework must be upgraded to 22mm as new condensing boilers are required to run on 22mm copper pipework. If the routing is simple then this can be a simple job. Sometimes carpets need to be lifted and pipework will go under floorboards. A lot of companies have fixed prices for pipework alterations and this includes fittings to give you an idea of price and labour charges.

All pipework should be clipped, there are regulations governing clipping distances for gas pipework. Pipework should always be secured and must be sleeved if passing through a cavity wall. One end must be sealed also. Your installer will bring you up to speed if you do have any concerns. If you are going from a system boiler to a combi boiler there will be lots of extra work including altering pipework and removing tanks and cylinders. This will mean more space in your airing cupboard and loft space.

Adding a MagnaClean

Some companies will not fit and guarantee their work if you do not agree to having a MagnaClean fitted. This additional work can be carried out for a very reasonable price as they would be already carrying out work in the property. More information can be found by clicking on the MagnaClean website. Unfortunately new condensing boiler have very weak heat exchangers and the MagnaClean will save them from getting damaged. This is why most companies insist on every customer having one installed.

Adding thermostatic radiator valves/room thermostat

Adding thermostatic radiator valves can significantly reduce your heating bills. It allows each radiator to be controlled individually. Why have the heat on in the whole house when you only need it in one? It is recommend not turning a valve completely off but setting it to 1. Adding TRV’s will in the long run save you lots of money and can be very cheap to install. Some companies will have offers when supplying and fitting these. Energy efficiency should be promoted whenever.

A room stat or a programmable room stat is a legal requirement. Your installer will advise what the best option for you is. A wireless stat will be more expensive but there is the advantage of no visible wiring.

Adding additional radiators

If you need to add additional radiators it is best to add these while having a new boiler installed. It will more than likely be cheaper. Some of your radiators may be undersized or very old and you should consider upgrading these.

Powerflusing your system or flushing your system

There is a huge difference between powerflushing your central heating system or just flushing your system. Powerflusing involves higher pressure and circulates fresh water and special chemicals around your system. It is normally needed on older systems as sludge and dirt builds up over years and years. This will mean that you either have cold spots or not very hot radiators. Having fresh water in a system means water can be heated up to the maximum pressure the boiler will allow and will mean hotter radiatiors which in turn means more efficiency. A powerflush is not a legal requirement when replacing your boiler but it is advisable. When a powerflush is taken with a boiler installation discounts can be given.

Normal cold and hot water flushing is a requirement when a boiler is installed. Cleanser and inhibitor is added. A hot and cold flush must be done in order to work to best practice. New boilers do not like any dirt in the system, heat exchangers can get very ‘clogged’ up and the cost of replacement can be very great.

Commissioning your system

Things that should be included in your installation and are considered best practise:

1. Flushing with Fernox or Sentinel product/filling with inhibitor from same
2. Roomstat/programmer, TRV’s (best practise, recommended)
3. Balancing and commissioning according to manufacturers instructions, important so as not to invalidate warranty.
4. Decommisioning of old boiler, tanks and all waste materials associated with installation
5. Making good eg. new and old flue openings
6. Completion of Benchmark log book, important.
7. Notification of new boiler to Building Control
8. At least 3 years guaranteed on pipework and associated fitting (the boiler manufacturer will have their own guarantees.)

The above should be in writing to protect your expensive new purchase.

Filling in the benchmark/notifying building control

Filling in the benchmark and notifying building control is part of commissioning process and a legal requirement. Pressures and temperatures need to be taken to ensure the system is correctly configured. Not filling out the benchmark and not notifying building control may cause problems if you ever decide to sell your property as proof the boiler was installed by a competent person will be required.

When Illness Brings Blessings

Six years ago I was diagnosed with a progressive illness. This illness has proved to be a blessing because I have learned to be my own advocate, to let go, to work on making amends, and to do everything possible to make my body strong. Living with a chronic and progressive neurological disease may not be the end of the road.

1. I learned to be my own advocate. I use the internet to do my research. Whatever your diagnosis, go to the medical journals and dedicated websites to find out the symptoms and the treatments for your illness. What research has been done? Where are the leading medical centers for your medical condition? Locate the forums and join in. Are there local support groups? If not, consider starting one.

2. I learned to let go. As my illness progressed, I no longer could work. I stopped doing homecare, cooking, and financial management. My husband filled in more and more. He was taking on the role of caregiver. I’m an independent cuss. I didn’t let go of skills or independence graciously. My relationships with my family and particularly with my husband were stressed.

3. I learned my way to forgiveness. When you are faced with the possibility of death, you take stock. This was the time to make amends, to ask and to receive forgiveness. As a person of faith, my spirituality was essential. I went to a counselor, who helped me navigate grieving, process what was happening, and come to peace with my life.

4. As I accepted what was going on and continued to work with my counselor, my understanding of myself deepened. My goal was to approach death with peace, and to become a loving and caring presence. I became calm. I stopped being reactive to stuff. My relationship with my husband improved. We became loving, caring, and gentle with one another.

5. My body was failing. When my voice became inaudible, when it was difficult to swallow, and when I started to drool just a little, I did my research. I shared with my primary physician that the literature recommends speech therapy. She referred me and I was greatly helped. I learned to project my voice. I did exercises that brought both sides of my throat and voice box into synch. I no longer had difficulty swallowing.

6. The literature also recommends physical therapy. I asked my family physician to refer me because my neck was hurting. No wonder, I was stooped over and my head was twisted to the side. I was helped to stand straight. I did exercises on weight machines which strengthened my core muscles. I relearned how to walk.

My health has greatly improved. I am thankful for the gift of life.

Homecare Agencies – Things That You Should Check Out When Hiring One

Homecare agencies provide a happy and desirable alternative to staying in retirement homes. The provision of home care is more convenient and comforting emotionally as well. You can enjoy personalized care specific only to you. Furthermore, services provided include everything from personal grooming services to taking care of the cooking and grocery shopping. However, all depends on the homecare agency you hire. One of the first things that you need to check is if the agency is licensed because they are highly reliable. Licensed agencies take a lot of care when it comes to hiring care providers, training them to provide special services and various specialized care requirements. You can be assured that care providers are well trained and equipped for the job.

Check out how much of family involvement is required

The other thing that you have to find out is how much family involvement is necessary. This can help you evaluate the most suitable home care agency. If a large amount of family involvement is required and if you are unable to provide the required time, then the agency will not work in your favor. In such cases, you can opt for a full service and full time care provider who can take care of everything that the needy require. If you can spend part of your time and involve yourself in lending care, then you can always choose a suitable agency. A very important thing that you need to ensure is whether the agency provides aid for menial household chores.

Check out staff and services

Before you choose an agency, make sure that you check out the staff and services provided. The staff has to be well trained and should not have any sort of criminal background, be it violence, drunken driving, addiction, theft or any other aspect that is illegal. One good way of finding out these things is to approach a referral agency. Another option you have is to choose a licensed agency because such agencies do conduct a thorough background check. Regarding services, you have to check if the company offers specialized care if the needy requires it. People, who suffer different levels of mobility impairment, diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other chronic diseases, require specialized care. You should also check out the procedure adopted by the agency in case there is an emergency. Staff has to be trained in providing first aid and in taking charge of emergency situations.

Check out the fee structure

Although homecare agencies provide the best of services, they are very expensive. Further, costs increase with the services that you require. Full time services are charged more. Almost all services require an advance before they can start providing care. You can check out different financial arrangements and details about the mode of payment. If you live abroad, then you should have the facility of online wire transfer. Based on your situations, consider the best options and choose a service that can cater to all your requirements. You can reduce costs by increasing your involvement in the care process or by hiring a separate maid for the menial jobs.