Caregiver Hiring Strategies and Tips

Caregiver hiring is one of the most important tasks you will ever face in your life. Your loved one’s well-being depends upon your success in hiring the appropriate person or team.

It is important to have a sound philosophy regarding your goals in providing care for your loved one. The fundamental cornerstones:

Caregiver Hiring Cornerstones

1. Dignity

2. Happiness

3. Alleviate Suffering

4. Home Sweet Home

5. Caregiver as a Servant


Disease and aging take away some of your loved one’s ability to accomplish what they wish on their own. They have to endure being assisted. For example, an elderly frail person cannot waive off an insulting person when that person is helping them to the commode in a time of need. This is a hard hit to the person’s dignity. A key rule in caregiver hiring is to be aware of how the potential servant interacts with your loved one. Here are some warning signs of a dignity killing caregiver:

1. Fails to openly express respect for your loved one.

2. Does not listen. Only pretends. They won’t be able to tell you what your loved one just said to them moments earlier.

3. Fails to allow your loved one to finish speaking before cutting them off verbally.

4. Speaks baby talk to your adult loved one.

5. Talks very loudly to your loved one even though they hear fine.

6. Uses irreverent nicknames without permission like “honey”, “mamma” or “sweetie”.

7. Speaks to your loved one like they speak to a pet. They may previously have been pet sitters as the bulk of their prior experience!

8. Always stands above your loved one never sitting with them at the same level.

9. Always ORDERS and TELLS and never ASKS permission.

10. Takes personal phone calls in the presence of the patient.

These telltale signs seem innocent enough. But, the dignity of the patient needing care is fragile. Beware of these behaviors in the caregiver you may be hiring. They often are symptomatic of a deeper disregard for the dignity of the person they will be charged with serving. Preserving dignity is the most important responsibility of the caregiver.


Happiness is particularly important for the dementia patient. The dementia patient is very sensitive to the moods and atmosphere in the house. Happiness is contagious. Ironically, the most medically skilled caregiver you are considering hiring, may have a very tense, serious attitude. It is a common situation. The business-like unfriendly attitudes are devastating moods for anyone requiring care to have to endure from their servants. Understand the personality disposition of the potential caregiver. They should be genuinely happy by nature. Caregiving can be a high-pressure endeavor at times. Ask the potential servant what they did on their last day off. You can train a happy person complicated custodial duties. You can’t train an unhappy person how to be happy. See if your candidate can tell a good joke, or tell them a funny story and see if they genuinely laugh. Laughter is the best medicine.

Alleviate Suffering

This is the core caregiver skill – healing. When you are caregiver hiring, each candidate should be able to display the necessary practical and sometimes medical skills needed to make your patient physically feel better. Many patients will need assistance walking to the bathroom. A good caregiver will know to use a transfer belt or at least NOT to grasp the patient by the shoulder ready to pull the shoulder out of socket when catching the falling patient. Make sure the candidate can demonstrate how to take blood pressure and temperature. See how the caregiver puts on gloves. Experienced caregivers know how to grasp the gloves by the heel and pull them on quickly. Have them demonstrate washing their hands. All these small items add up to not transferring disease to your frail loved one. Depending upon your patient’s needs, don’t just ask them about their skills. Have them do it while you are watching. Changing a bandage on a surgical incision that is healing for example. The good caregiver should be proactive in telling you what medical supplies will be helpful for the patient. Ask them to give you their list based on your description of the patient’s ailments. If they have the proper experience, they will reel of a list of needed supplies quickly without hesitation. Lastly, don’t forget the benefits of massage. See if your caregiver can give a soothing massage. Notice their touch. Is it a healing touch? Note how your patient responds.

Home Sweet Home

The primary reason you are caregiver hiring is that you have chosen to provide assistance to your loved one at home instead of placing them in a skilled nursing facility or nursing home. It is your intention to leverage the atmosphere of being at home to facilitate the quality of life of your patient. So make sure your caregiver candidate can demonstrate homemaker skills. Some caregivers will transform your house into a hospital. This is not necessary in most instances. The benefits of feeling at ease and comfortable in your own home far outweigh the need to have the most efficient medical facility setup at home. The quality caregiver will understand the nuance of facilitating comfort with pillows for example. Pets are great companions. Determine if your caregiver is allergic to your patient’s best friend. See how they get along. Have them demonstrate washing dishes and folding towels. The experienced candidate will perform quickly and quietly. See if they can demonstrate changing the thermostat on the wall or changing the TV channel. Watch them sweep the floor or do a load of laundry. Notice if they are comfortable with homemaking or awkward. Can they sketch or knit for example. Can they play the piano in your living room? Maintain the home as a home NOT as a hospital. Your caregiver will play a key role in accomplishing this while providing quality care if you choose them carefully.

Caregiver as a Servant

While this category is covered last in many ways this is fundamentally the most important of the Caregiver Hiring Cornerstones. In many countries the family cares for a loved one at home facilitated by several servants tasked with the patient’s care. In such countries there is typically an inequitable distribution of wealth with a poor class or classes of people in society who work for slave wages. As a result, the grandmother of the family may actually have 5 servants taking care of her every need. We don’t have such a culture, however it is important to understand for the patient’s well being that the caregiver is a servant to the patient not the boss of the patient. This is not a common understanding. Typically, the caregiver will assume a parent type role instructing the patient what to do and when. This can damage the patients assertive capabilities especially dementia patients. They can become totally dependent upon the instructions the caregiver dolls out. They in effect loose their will to be the boss. They stop initiating. A key technique to mitigate the risk of this happening to your loved one is providing a servant to them. The caregiver is paid to serve. When witnessing the candidate you are considering hiring, note how they respond to requests from your patient. Do they simply ignore requests and perform only listed tasks. Do they pretend to respond to the patient but really do nothing? Service is a state of mind. Determine and insure that the caregiver you will entrust your loved one’s care has a servant mind set and reinforces your patient’s role as the boss of the servant.


About The Author

Carl Knowlan a caregiver 23 years for blind and sighted patients suffering from Cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Stroke, Dementia, Emphysema, Dysphasia, and other ailments as well as loved ones recovering from major cardiac, head and neck and thoracic surgery. Having seen tragic results from bad caregivers, Carl lends his expertise and collects important information about caregiver hiring with comments at

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  • LAAAC is managed by St. Barnabas Senior Services; Funded, in part, by Archstone Foundation.
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