Interviewing caregivers for the first time – Do you know what questions to ask?

You want to provide your aging parent with the best care, but knowing how to go about it can be a little daunting.

Choosing a home health care agency is the first step and often the first choice when hiring a caregiver. While there is no shortage of private caregivers advertising their services online and in the newspaper, a home care agency is usually the first choice for families and their seniors for several reasons.

We obviously can’t speak for all agencies, but caregivers who work for Living Assistance Services:

  • must pass our thorough screening process, including a check of credentials and criminal check
  • must have at least two years of professional experience
  • are hired based on credentials and experience, as well as personality

Home health care agencies also have staff available to assist with the ever-changing needs of the elderly, including qualified PSWs (personal support workers) and RPNs (registered practical nurses) who work under the direct supervision of an RN (registered nurse).

What to Ask

Once you’ve decided on a home health care agency, it’s still important to do your due diligence when it’s time to choose your loved one’s caregiver. This is important because, after all, this is the person who you’ll allow into your loved one’s home and entrust with their care.

Asking the right questions when interviewing potential caregivers is key. We’ve compiled some standard questions that can offer valuable insight into the caregiver’s skills, and, just as importantly, their reasons for wanting to work with seniors.

  • What is a PSW?
  • Are you comfortable with the duties required? (Be sure to review the job description, which may include personal care, such as hygiene and dressing, light housekeeping, shopping and errands, meal preparation, and companionship, such as reading a book or playing cards.)
  • Are you comfortable with pets? (If your loved one has pets)
  • Do you have a medical condition or limitation that would prevent you for performing the tasks required?
  • What experience do you have caring for seniors and/or people with cognitive impairment?
  • Are you able to be flexible and change or increase hours if needed?
  • How do you feel about the elderly and/or people with disabilities?
  • Have you ever dealt with an emergency? If so, what was the emergency and what did you do?
  • How would you deal with a client who refuses to comply with care? For example, if they refuse to take their medication or won’t take a bath?
  • How would you respond if the person you were caring for was verbally and physically aggressive towards you?
  • Under what circumstances would you say it is acceptable to break a confidence of a client? For example, would you tell me if my mom/dad did or said something concerning or about what happened at their doctor’s appointment?

Once you’ve completed the interview obtain copies of the caregiver’s documentation such as proof of education, first aid training certificates, etc. You will also want to get written permission and check references.

A reputable and transparent home care agency should have nothing to hide and will happily answer your questions and provide the documentation requested. Their literature and website should provide you with information relative to their experience, their range of services, their management team and the principles of their agency.

We understand that every person’s situation and needs are different. Hopefully, you find this information helpful when you’re ready to start interviewing potential senior care candidates.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions. We can help!

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

How Caregiver Companions Can Support Your Loved One In A Senior Community

When contemplating senior care for your elderly parent or loved one, you likely think the options are a senior community or hiring a caregiver from a home care agency. In reality, you can do both!

Some seniors require ‘round-the-clock care due to medical conditions, while for others it’s just about convenience or circumstance. Despite the fact that your parent is living in a senior community, it can continue to be difficult to try to juggle work and family life, as well as doctors’ appointments, errands, and even just social visits. This is when a caregiver/companion can help.

When you enlist the help of a private agency within a senior community you are supporting not only your loved one, but also the community care staff and yourself.

The benefits of a caregiver/companion are many. They are able to provide individualized support for loved one’s with dementia and assist with feeding together with helping with all other care needs. However, it’s not just about supportive care. A caregiver companion can also;

  • make friendly regular visits and spend quality time with a loved one doing any activity they enjoy
  • escort your loved one to medical appointments when you are not able to attend (and report)
  • provide transportation to and from appointments and any other outings
  • provide cultural support, which often is not available in senior communities

The life in a senior community can become lonely, despite interactions with staff and other residents within the senior community.  Moving a loved one to a senior community often means moving further from friends and family, as well as from the lifestyle he/she has always known. A caregiver companion frequently enables the transition to be less lonely with their visits and helping your loved one venture out to see friends, attend church or participate other day-to-day activities.

If you’d like to learn more about how our caregivers and senior communities can co-exist to help both you and your loved one, give us a call.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

Signs It May Be Time to Take Control of Your Parent’s Finances

A survey published a couple of years back showed that most adults would rather have the “sex talk” with their kids than talk to their parents about aging, with money being one of the touchiest subjects.

Deciding it’s time to take control of a parent’s finances isn’t easy for the adult child or parent. Adult children don’t want to appear controlling or greedy, and may have trouble approaching a subject that many people from the previous generation consider private. A parent may have difficulty admitting or even accepting that they need help—something that can also be hard for the child.

Though difficult, taking control of a parent’s finances is a necessary step that can help protect them against financial fraud and help ensure they have the money needed to live comfortably. But how do you know when it’s time to step in and take control?

Look for the signs

Looking out for the signs that you parent is being irresponsible with money can help you know when to step in. For instance, you notice that your parent:

  • is getting forgetful
  • is misplacing items
  • is making purchases that are out of character
  • is making repeated trips to the bank
  • has unopened bills piling up
  • is getting calls or letters from creditors or collection agencies

The son of one our clients, who will remain unnamed for privacy, discovered his elderly mother had been the victim of an elder scam after noticing a letter on her dresser from the bank marked “urgent”. After some prying, his mother admitted to sending scammers more than $15,000. She lost the money to a CRA tax scam, and like many seniors who are the victim of fraud, she was too embarrassed and frightened to tell her family about it.

Years ago, another client, an Alzheimer’s sufferer and regular church attendee, wrote a cheque for no apparent reason to her church for $30,000.00. Her Power of Attorney continues to litigate in an effort to recover the funds to this day.

Fraud is the number one crime against older Canadians, according to a report by the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors.

Step in early on

Don’t wait for your parents to bring it up or until something catastrophic happens to step in. The majority of decisions about a parent’s finances and senior care are made during a medical crisis, which can complicate things greatly.

Getting involved while your parents are still healthy and able to have a rational conversation can make things easier for everyone.

If you are the person that your parent wishes to take over their affairs, you will need to have the right documentation in place. Having the account and pin numbers or even having a joint account with your parent isn’t enough; Powers of Attorney are required to give you control.

Your parent cannot sign Powers of Attorney if they lose their mental capacity. A lawyer can request a medical assessment before allowing them to sign any document if they feel your parent’s understanding of the documents is diminished.

Having the conversation

It’s not unreasonable for you to ask your parents how things are going financially and this is a good way to start the conversation.  To make it easier, look for cues to bring it up. For instance, when your parent talks about home repairs or another potentially costly event or when a commercial comes on about financial services, retirement, or elderly care services.

If you’ve already noticed signs of a problem, use the following tips to help you talk to your parent about taking control of their finances:

    • Lead with loving intentions – Start by letting your parent know that you care and just want what’s best for them.
    • Express your concerns – Be specific about your concerns, such as a change in their health or other signs of a problem.
    • Ask permission to help – By asking permission you are being respectful and less likely to offend them or make them feel helpless or powerless.
    • Be reassuring – Reassure your parent that you are not attempting to take over their life or control them, but rather just trying to help out of love.
    • Listen – Hear them out and encourage them to be open and honest about what they want and how they’re feeling.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

 

 

Article Resources:
Don’t be fooled by fraudsters posing as CRA this tax season. http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/en/news/2019/be-fooled-fraudsters-posing-cra-tax-season
Joint accounts. https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/services/banking/bank-accounts/joint-bank-account.html
Powers of Attorney: rights and responsibilities. https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/services/rights-responsibilities/rights-banking/rights-power-attorney.html

We Are Not Secret Agents: Why other companies’ principals are hidden from clients

A 2012 report by the Health Council of Canada on senior home care reported that 93 percent of seniors in Canada live at home and want to stay there as long as possible. The report also highlighted the importance of excellent home care, which is something we pride ourselves on providing for our clients.

Transparency and Accountability – Our Promise to You

When choosing a home care agency, trust is key. When you pay for home care services, you are inviting a home care provider into the home to care for your vulnerable loved one and trusting them around their valuable assets. We understand the magnitude of the responsibility you’re entrusting us with and to honour that we take every step to ensure transparency and accountability—something we pride ourselves on.

Many home health care agencies and assisted living companies hide their principals from their clients. A fancy website and creating the illusion of a great image can be very appealing, but also misleading.  Living Assistance Services does not hide our principals. We put it all out there for our client to see.

We encourage open and honest communication with our clients. Some of the ways in which we do this is by posting the names, business addresses, and other pertinent information about our directors on our website so you can reach them directly with any questions or concerns. We also make communication with us very easy.  We are available 24 hours each day, so you can reach us day or night.

How We Help You Protect Your Loved Ones

Along with offering flexible and affordable quality home care services to suit your aging loved one’s ever-changing needs, Living Assistance Services also help you protect your loved one by:

  • Hiring only qualified and experienced caregivers who possess a college Personal Support Worker certificate or equivalent.
  • Conducting extensive background and reference checks and thoroughly screening all of our candidates to ensure we only hire trustworthy, competent, and personal caregivers.
  • Continuously monitoring our caregivers to stay on top of any issues that may arise and deal with them immediately.
  • Having liability and honesty insurance for our caregivers to protect the care recipient and their family. Our insurance certificate is readily available to clients.
  • Having caregivers who are fully insured and covered under the Worker’s Compensation Board, with a copy of the Workers Compensation Clearance Certificate available to you as proof of coverage.
  • Encouraging the recipient of our home care services to choose their own caregiver to ensure the best possible match and comfort level.

There should be no secrets or guessing when it comes to entrusting the care of your loved one to a home health care agency.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

 

Article Resources
Health Council of Canada. (2012). Seniors in need, caregivers in distress: What are the home care priorities for seniors in Canada? http://www.carp.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/HCC_HomeCare_2d.pdf

The Future of Retirement in Canada

Retirement is evolving and how retirement in Canada looks has changed drastically in the past few years. This is mainly because people are living longer – a whopping 28 years past retirement for most.

Living longer and remaining active for longer than ever before also means people are living at home longer and well past retirement. That’s just fine with most Canadian seniors based on a number of surveys that found that the majority of Canadian seniors prefer to remain at home for as long as possible.

Aging in place isn’t just the preference, but also the answer given the changing needs of seniors and retirement plans that don’t afford most the ability to pay for quality long-term care facilities. And even those that can afford assisted living facilities don’t feel they can justify the cost of these facilities when they’re still reasonably active and don’t require ‘round-the-clock care.

To make this work, people are thinking outside the box and utilizing in-home care services and some other creative arrangements to make aging in the comfort of home possible.

Multigenerational Housing

Multigenerational housing isn’t a new idea. Adult children taking in and looking after their aging parents is fairly common and in some cultures it’s expected. What has changed is that it’s no longer just seniors who are unable to live on their own that move in with their children. Many active and independent retirees choose this alternative because it’s more affordable than a mortgage or rent, or the high cost of a retirement community. This frees up funds that can be used to supplement the cost of in-home care services to take some of the burden off of adult children who are also juggling work and kids.

Student renters from other parts of the country/overseas

Many seniors are renting rooms to students from out of town or even the country.  This mutually beneficial arrangement is appealing to students who are offered low rent in exchange for help with chores like minor home maintenance and repairs and taking out the garbage.

Not only can this provide extra income during retirement, it also makes in-home care services more affordable because chores can split between the student and a professional caregiver.

Young Professional Renters

Many young professionals find themselves having to move to a new city or town for jobs and unable to afford the high cost of rentals—if they can even find one. With so many empty nesters having empty rooms collecting dust, renting to a young professional offers mutual benefits. It provides the an affordable housing solution that helps a young person get on their feet while providing a senior with supplementary income that can contribute to in-home care services when the need arises.

Senior roommates

The Golden Girls were onto something! Taking in other seniors as roommates is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to retirement homes and helping seniors age more comfortably. Seniors who live together can share the cost of hiring a caregiver to assist with the tasks of daily living, basic housekeeping, and other in-home care services.

For those who want to age in place, these alternatives make retirement affordable so you can continue to live on your terms. These options are also wonderful ways to stave-off senior loneliness and remain social, which can help keep you healthier and happier, according to various studies.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

Don’t Let Caring for an Aging Parent Destroy Your Family Relationships

When the time comes to make plans for the care of an aging parent, children focus on figuring out what the parent needs and how to help them, but few think about how important the care plan will be for family relationships.

Looking after an aging parent puts a lot of strain on family relationships, especially sibling relationships. And yes, it even happens to close-knit families that have always gotten along.

It sounds easy enough to divide up the responsibilities associated with elderly care amongst family members, but the reality is that even if all the siblings want to be involved, it may not be possible. Work, distance, and their own children to look after can make it harder for one sibling than another. What often ends up happening is that the sibling who lives closer or is seemingly less busy is often expected to shoulder more of the responsibility. As practical a solution as this may seem, it’s not necessarily fair and will ultimately cause resentment.

How to Avoid Straining Family Relationships When it comes to Elderly Care

It’s a proven fact that one family member often ends up taking on most of a parent’s elderly care responsibilities. Most often this falls on the daughter, whether she has chosen to take on the primary caregiver role or not. Caregiver burden has been linked to burnout, which has a very serious impact on the caregiver’s mental and physical health.

When it comes time to plan for senior home care for an elderly parent, keep the following in mind to help avoid resentment and sibling rivalry:

  • Having a flexible job or childcare commitments doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is able to take on more of the elderly care duties.
  • Living closer may make it easier for one sibling to take on more of the care, but that isn’t necessarily fair and shouldn’t just be assumed or expected.
  • Caring for an aging loved one can take a toll and that toll worsens as the parent’s health declines. Be there for each other as much as possible and especially for the sibling who is shouldering most of the burden.
  • Communication is everything. Talk openly and honestly with each other about what elderly care responsibilities are needed and how the needs will be met.
  • Professional home care assistance can help take some of the burden off of siblings and make it easier to divide the responsibilities in a way that is fair and realistic. A professional senior care provider can take on duties that children are often not comfortable with, such as personal hygiene, or home care medical duties, such as administering medications and injections.

It won’t always be easy or even peaceful, but elderly care for your parent doesn’t need to cause strain if you work together with your siblings. The goal is to do your best to ensure your parents get the care they deserve and need.

Be respectful of your parent’s wishes and each other, and be realistic about what elderly care entails. Take on what you can and consider professional senior home care services from an agency like Living Assistance Services, to help balance the responsibilities. Avoiding having one sibling take on the majority of the burden can make all the difference and help you avoid damaging your family relationships.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

It Takes A Village: A look at the types of caregivers, their qualifications, and how they help you

Senior care involves the skills of different types of caregivers. Many people don’t know the different qualifications of the various types of caregivers and what they offer.

The following is an overview of each type of caregiver employed by Living Assistance Services and what they do for our clients.

Caregiver

Our caregivers have at least two years of Canadian experience working in home care or with the elderly population. They provide a number of home care services related to day-to-day living, including:

  • Personal care, such as bathing, grooming, and dressing
  • Light housekeeping, such as washing dishes, changing bedding, vacuuming, etc.
  • Meal planning and preparation
  • Shopping and errands, such as medical appointments, dining out, and church
  • Convalescence and respite care, providing visits as needed to give family members a break from caregiving
  • Companionship, which includes assisting with day-to-day activities, crafts, reading, playing cards, and other activities to help combat senior loneliness

Personal Support Worker (PSW)

Our personal support workers have successfully completed the Ontario PSW Training Program through an accredited college or not-for-profit organization.

Our PSWs, who must have a minimum of two years of work experience, have the training and experience to take on a number of home healthcare responsibilities. In addition to the services provided by caregivers, PSWs also:

  • Check and record vitals, including blood pressure, temperature, and pulse
  • Assists other members of the healthcare team if the client is hospitalized, such as mobilization and physical lifts
  • Collects urine, stool, and sputum samples
  • Assists the care recipient with monitoring blood glucose levels
  • Assists with range of motion exercises and other duties related to rehabilitation
  • Observes and reports behavioral changes, medication side effects, changes in existing conditions
  • Provides the care recipient and their family with emotional and social support services
  • Provides supportive care at end of life

Registered Practical Nurse (RPN)

All RPNs practicing in Ontario are members of the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO). To meet the requirements for registration, they must be a graduate from a college diploma program in practical nursing from a college approved by the College of Nurses of Ontario.

Our RPNs work under the direct supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN) and provide various medical and home healthcare services to patients who are medically stable, including:

  • Wound care
  • Administering medications, such as injections, oxygen, and oral and topical medications
  • Personal medical care, such as nail trimming and foot care, and oral cavity suctioning
  • Ostomy and catheter care
  • Post-operative care

Registered Nurse (RN)

An RN undergoes longer and more complex training than an RPN. All RNs in Ontario must have either a baccalaureate obtained through collaborative college-university nursing program or a four-year university nursing program. RNs are trained to look after people with medically complex needs whose condition is unpredictable.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

Caregiver as a Personal Assistant

It’s a common misconception that in-home care is for people who are very ill, immobilized and unable to do anything for themselves.  In-home care agencies provide more than just advanced home care for those in dire medical condition. Many of the home care services we offer are the same responsibilities that a lot of people do for their aging parents.

If your parent is still in reasonably good health and living on their own, you may both struggle with the idea of enlisting outside help. It can be hard to justify the expense or “fuss” of home care services for someone who is still mobile and fairly independent. This is very common. Unfortunately, what often ends up happening is that the person who takes on the caregiver role quickly realizes how time-consuming even basic assistance—like grocery shopping, hairdresser appointments, and taking mom to church—can be when also trying to juggle a job, children, and their own household.

To give you an idea of what a typical week looks like for a personal assistant, below is the calendar for a  senior care recipient who does not have a chronic illness or require advanced home health care. Most of the tasks look more like those of a personal assistant than a home healthcare provider, but these are tasks that a home care agency can help with.

They include:

  • Grocery shopping and errands, such as picking up prescriptions, dry cleaning, etc.
  • Meal planning, preparation, and storage
  • Transportation to and from appointments and activities, such as church, social functions, etc.
  • Joyful companionship, such as playing cards, going for walks or to the movies, correspondence, etc.

A broad range of services to choose from and the flexibility to enlist the amount of help that best suits your needs makes caregiving easier on you and the entire family.

 

David Porter, CPCA,
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

The Shortage of Personal Support Workers in Canada – Is There A Solution?

With Canada’s aging population growing at record speed, it’s not surprising that we’re seeing a shortage of Personal Support Workers to keep up. Baby Boomers are aging and many had fewer or no children. This not only means more seniors in need of care without children to care for them, but also fewer people of caregiving age to provide professional elderly care services in hospitals, senior care facilities, and at home.

According to Stats Canada, approximately 6 million Canadians are over 65 and the number of Canadians receiving some type of home healthcare sits at around 8 percent of the country’s total population. The estimated number of seniors requiring health care services is expected to double over the next 20 years, according to the Canadian Institute for Health.

These numbers aren’t just affecting seniors looking for private home care, but also those utilizing home healthcare services through the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN). Created by the provincial government just two years ago, a client would receive their first home care visit within 10 days. That number jumped to a whopping 77 days in 2017. Though new funding from the government helped drop those wait times, they are rising steadily again with clients currently waiting an average of 28 days for service.

Making It Better

There will always be a need for caregivers and that need has already passed the breaking point.

The federal government recognizes this and has been making an effort to recruit more foreign caregivers through increased funding, incentives, and raising compensation rates. A 5-year pilot program made becoming a caregiver more appealing to those from outside of Canada by offering caregivers the opportunity to apply for permanent residency by securing and maintaining employment for two years.

Canada’s program appears to be the only one in the world that provides access to permanent residency to foreign caregivers. This incentive was put in place to make up for the less-than-desirable realities of the job, such as low pay and unpleasant, and sometimes even abusive or exploitative work conditions.

Unfortunately, many caregivers are finding out that they may not be eligible for permanent residency after being apart from their families and spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on applications, language assessments, and other requirements. The program is set to expire in November 2019 and caregivers who have not completed two years of caregiving work by that date will no longer be eligible to apply. This includes caregivers who have been here for several years, but haven’t been able to accumulate two years’ worth of work experience for reasons beyond their control, such as being let go by employers who no longer need or want care, or having to leave a toxic work environment. If a caregiver is let go or chooses to switch employers, they need to apply for a new work permit—a process that can take close to a year to complete and puts them a step closer to missing the application cut-off.

While the government has introduced new pathways to permanent residency, the requirements for eligibility have created significant new obstacles for caregivers, further adding to the shortage we’re facing now. With a job that can be unpleasant at times, low-paying, and without the guarantee of permanent status, there is little incentive for foreign caregivers to leave their families behind to come work in Canada.

Living Assistance Services takes pride in our high standards when it comes to recruiting PSWs and we maintain this quality with regular performance monitoring and ongoing training from our Registered Nurse. We offer our caregivers compensation that is reflective of the important job they do. We recognize that it takes a special person to care for others and value their commitment to a job that can be quite challenging at times. We also demonstrate our appreciation with an annual luncheon to honor our five-star caregivers and we hold them in the highest regard.

While we wait for the government to (hopefully) implement a permanent solution to this ongoing and likely permanent need for caregivers, we will continue to do our part to make it better.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

 

Article Resources
Seniors in Transition: Exploring Pathways Across the Care Continuum. https://www.cihi.ca/en/seniors-in-transition-exploring-pathways-across-the-care-continuum
Live-in Caregiver Program. https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/work-canada/permit/caregiver-program.html
Home and community care. https://www.ontario.ca/page/homecare-seniors
Caregiver Program. http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/helpcentre/results-by-topic.asp?top=28

Going solo – you don’t have to

Your spouse has died, your children live far away, and most of your close friends are already in assisted living facilities. This is the reality for many seniors who want to continue to live at home but find themselves alone and wondering how they will manage.

Many people who get to this stage think that moving out of their home and into an assisted living community or with family is the only option, but that doesn’t have to be the case. We can help!

Hiring a Caregiver is Not a Sign of Inability

Hiring in-home care can actually enhance your life and help you live independently longer. It’s not in any way a sign of defeat or a person’s inability to do things, but rather a conscious choice to continue to live life on your terms.

An in-home caregiver can provide home health care services, if needed, but they can also be hired to help you simplify chores. Hiring a caregiver just 4 hours per day, twice per week can help keep your home organized and easier to manage. It’s a way to stay on top of chores and errands so that you can focus on other things.

It’s a common misconception that in-home care services are for people with extensive health or mobility issues. The truth is that in-home care services encompass a broad range of services and tasks designed to give you as much or as little help as you need.

Some of the things that an in-home caregiver can help you with include:

  • Housekeeping
  • Shopping
  • Meal planning and preparation
  • Errands
  • Transportation to and from appointments

Hiring a professional to help you with these things doesn’t make you a failure—it makes you a better planner and keeps you in control of your life and independence. Speaking of planning, these services can be modified to help you navigate any bumps in the road, such as an injury or illness. This gives the added peace of mind of having extra help should you need it.

In-home care is help on your terms, based on your needs so that you can live life your way.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care