Family caregivers are the backbone of most families. It’s a challenging job, especially as many family caregivers juggle it alongside a professional career. Sometimes there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to devote equal attention to both.
If you’re a family caregiver contemplating hiring a professional caregiver to help support a loved one, there are some issues you’ll want to consider. You want to ensure your loved one gets the quality, compassionate help they need while you breathe a little easier. From caregiver laws and legal rights to tips for finding professional help, we’ve compiled a list of things to know for your own professional situation and as you search for the right caregiver for your loved one.
Caregiver Legal Rights
If you’re considering the transition to using a professional caregiver, there are some important legal components to that you should be aware of. For instance, if you need to take time off from work for your caregiver responsibilities or because you know the transition to hiring a professional will be difficult for your loved one, make sure you know about the FMLA!
Did you know there are caregiver laws to protect family members who take a leave of absence from work to take care of loved ones? You have caregiver or caretaker rights, even if you aren’t a professional.
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives employees who qualify up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job – and health benefits – protected leave each year. You can take those 12 weeks all at the same time or disperse it throughout the year.
Caring for an immediate family member is one of the qualifying situations, as long as you meet several other requirements, such as having been been employed at your company for more than 12 months. If you qualify, the FMLA helps protect you when you return from leave: it states that you must be restored to your original job, or to an equivalent job with equal pay, benefits, and other terms of employment. In other words, you can focus on taking care of your family member or easing them into working with a professional caregiver without worrying that your job won’t be there for you when you return.
How to Find Professional Help
When you’re ready to hire a professional to support a loved one, you need the best. You may want to know the differences between a full employment agency and a referral service, and you’ll want to make sure your caregiver has been subjected to a thorough screening and background checks.
If your loved one has Alzheimer’s, dementia, a physical disability, or other condition that might require special skills, make sure the agency or referral service is aware. They can match you with a caregiver who has experience or specialized training in caring for individuals with those conditions.
How to Tell Your Loved One
If your loved one is used to living independently, telling them you’ve hired a professional to come in and take care of them may not go over well. Your loved one may feel offended that you think they can’t take care of themselves. Part of professional caregiver services may include light housekeeping, laundry, cooking, and running errands, so it may help to introduce the caregiver as a housekeeper first until your loved one is comfortable with them. This strategy also allows you to make sure the caregiver is a good match for your family member’s personality and needs.
If your loved one is used to you being their caregiver, you might want to test the waters on how they’d feel about professional help before deciding on a strategy. Ask them if they’d like someone to drive and accompany them on social outings or shopping trips so they can stay social and make their own decisions when you’re at work. Having a professional caregiver can mean more freedom for them, and you’ll still be just a phone call away. Try starting small by having the caregiver with you in the house to help you care for your loved one. This way they to have time to adjust to a new face and to build trust.
Have you considered professional caregivers for your loved one? If you’ve hired a professional, how did you introduce them to your loved one for a smooth transition? Tell us below!