Are non-professional, non-family caregivers a common thing?

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Are non-professional non-family caregivers a common thing? My mother, who lives in a senior apartment (in another state from me), has an acquaintance helping her with shopping and driving to doctor appointments. My mom knew this person's now-deceased father but has known her for only a short time. From what I can tell, she has no set rates for services, and is neither bonded nor insured. This person apparently provides such services for several people in the senior complex. Should I be concerned?

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c47090 is correct. Some agencies such as Visiting Angels set their own standard a little hire than the state recommendation when it comes to Caregiver qualification and screening. They will request for shot records, driving records, background checks, provide General Liability Bond as well as Workers comp insurance for caregivers, and they have zero tolerance for unprofessional caregivers thus the high turnover. But it's always better to be safe than sorry especially when willingly inviting a total stranger into the privacy of your home. Do your due diligence.
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Reply to HomecareHouston
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GardenArtist is right -- liability and insurance are important things to consider for anyone doing this on a regular basis. Look what's happened to Dorker's brother (hired? a 17 y/o to go up in a bucket truck to do tree work; hit a power line and now the boy is in a hospital bed after being burned and losing both legs above the knee -- even if he has an umbrella liability policy, coverage for the accident could be voided if the machinery was not operated according to instructions, which could mean no operators under 18, no operation near power lines, etc.)!
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Reply to CTTN55
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I hate to be a "wet blanket", but if the woman is paid being, her services might be construed as being "for hire", putting her in a professional driver category. That raises the issue of her liability for accidents, as well as possibly a commercial driver's license.
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Reply to GardenArtist
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May I just add...not to add to the concerns and paranoia...but you can only do so much. For instance, in my role I at time am in a hiring position...I'm the one the applicants have to get past, and my attitude is they better be good enough to take care of my own family...and I mean it. Yes, we check references, for relevant and steady work history, and if offered the job, in our state (OH), a criminal background check is required, both FBI and BCI. So that means there is nothing in their PAST, but it doesn't mean something could not happen in the future. So here I am, also in a caregiving role, and I have often considered having someone in...although my mother would most likely fight us on it...but the thought of someone being in the house unsupervised is unsettling to ME. We're so overwhelmed and preoccupied I'm afraid if something were to go missing, would we notice? And sometimes it can be something small that isn't noticed for months. My aunt lives in an assisted living with housekeepers on the staff. When my aunt was in rehab someone (with some suspicion by management/history becoming known) got into her unit and stole some items. So if you have anything of value I'd get a locking box (a big one so it can't be slipped out) and/or give the valuables to another family member.
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Reply to gdaughter
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Yes, be very concerned. She can be a friend, but not provide services. There are insurance liability issues. Use a company that provides a variety of services (Visiting Angels comes to mind, but there are many). These people are screened, insured, etc.
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Reply to c47090
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My late aunt had a gal who is non-professional take her places and run errands for her. They would always use my Aunt's car. She was the younger sister of her son's best friend. So, she was known to family. The accident issue never came up. She was a great friend to my aunt and really helped her when she couldn't drive anymore. Oh, she was paid, I don't know how much.
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Reply to MaryKathleen
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We used an LPN who worked a week pro bono for us until I could arrive to take care of my mother. I had many conversations with this woman and I found it strange when she asked "Why do you use a computer?" and "Don't you think that your mother had a T.I.A.?" My responses="I'm very surprised that you DON'T use a computer since you run a business as a caregiver for elders at night in a 12-hour shift." and "No, my mother had a full blown ischemic stroke."
So let me just say that I was glad that we didn't have to use this woman, who my late mother knew, longer than a week.

My mother also had a cleaning girl. This girl was hired originally to do a 3 hour shift each Monday. Then her boss called my late mother and said "We're cutting Melissa's hours from 3 hours down to 1 hour." Now mind you, I was lucky to find out this information when my mother let it slip. HOWEVER, Melissa was cheating my mother from the get-go! She never worked 3 hours! She never worked 1 hour! She skipped out after 40 minutes. And not only did she clog up my mother's vacuum cleaner as she did not know how to empty it, but she also left my mother's clothes in the dryer for a week! She also almost caused a fire in the dryer, which was detected by my when I found 5 dryer sheets stuck to the air vent.
My mother had a bookkeeper. She did not balance my mom's checkbook for 9 months! She was off to the tune of $859 for NINE MONTHS! My mother's response ="She'll get it on month number 10." I said "No, she is done; she either balances on month numer 1 or she adds or subtracts."
I added the above after what Robinr wrote.  Elders are prime targets for scam artists!
Beware though-scary when an elder like my late mother liked the socialization with this people even though they were not performing their jobs to any level of functionality! My mother was just fine with it! Say what??!!
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Reply to Llamalover47
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Longplay53, I think you're doing the right thing by following the old adage of "trust but verify," e.g. monitoring your mother's accounts and keeping in touch. You might want to internet search any court records for your mother's helper as wally003 has done and do other cursory background checks, just to be on the safe side. Obviously, dishonest people come in all forms, relatives or not, licensed or not. A cousin of my wife's aunt was helping her aunt -- turned out she also helped herself to about $25,000 in small increments over a few months before a bank employee got suspicious and alerted the police. Definitely get your POA status verified for your protection as well as your mom's.
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Reply to bicycler
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You should be aware...that it is a ripe opportunity for someone to gain access, influence, theft...but it would for a paid caregiver as well--with paid you have some oversight though, someone to hold accountable, someone to at least assure you that a background check has been done and that the past is clear (but no one can predict the future...there's only so much you can do). Sometimes this starts off as sort of a friendship...sort of a "senior helping senior". And make no mistake...it CAN be a very good thing...but be aware even in the best of circumstances it can create some awkwardness...the person MAY expect to be compensated. It is often like work...it IS work. And of course, no, a "friend/acquaintance" would not be bonded or insured. But many seniors are capable and functional; they welcome company, being needed having something to do, and if they can do that while helping someone, so much the better. There is no easy answer to this...Certainly in the best of circumstances one would want to convey their appreciation...a gas card, restaurant gift card...If you are uncomfortable with this (is the person a safe driver??) you might want to contact the local city hall/office on aging/even the building management to get a referral so you can set mom up with rides/transportation. Often you may get resources via the local Area Agency On Aging website.
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Reply to robinr
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My cousin who is still able to live on her own has hired a lady that at 1st was just helping keep her apartment clean and helping get ready for a move. She's become so much more for her, taking her shopping and getting her out for appointments. What a godsend since the only family are myself and another cousin and we both live 3 hours away. Before this lady started helping my cousin was basically house bound and now they are out a couple times a week. When going out they use my cousin's car.
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Reply to EllensOnly
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