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I take care of my 95 year old mother who is bedridden. I am finding this hard. I am stuck in my house. I barely leave my house. I am lucky to go shopping. I have no one who can help me. I hired a caregiving agency to help me. First agency person was not dependable and they had nobody else, they are desperate for caregivers. Went with another agency. I was going to start back with piano lessons but caregiver never showed up and when I called they said she could not get out of driveway. It snowed 2 days ago. They said she could not get out in morning but everything was melted just about by afternoon. I guess the caregiver wanted whole day off. I am frustrated. I can't seem to be able to make any plans. I am hoping it gets better. Does anybody else find it hard getting caregivers?

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We use both InFirstLight, a nation-wide agency that supports their franchise people; and a locally run Connecting Companions. Very happy with both.

This is rural, and caregivers drive distances. A couple of hours is not enough to pay their gas.

We started with one agency while looking ahead to a weekend getaway. The first caregiver had children in school, and no one else available at the time, so we also tried the national agency. Their's stayed a weekend, and it was wonderful! In over 5 years, we asked for someone different once with each agency, and she was immediately changed. We also have an agreement with the caregiver about snow/ice conditions, such as, if school is cancelled, use your own judgement as to local roads, and call. It takes time and effort, but well worth it. Good luck.
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We hired caregivers through At Home Independent Living here in Central NYS. They were wonderful, if someone was going to be late, they would let us know, if someone couldn't make it, a substitute filled in immediately. They came on holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas, and even in snowstorms. One divine angel of a lady lived a block away from us! She was with my mother from 1 until 5 three times a week and often of her own accord stopped in to check up on mom in the late evening (until the agency found out and told her to quit it!). It was private pay, of course. On weekends I never knew who would show up as there were more fly-by-nights on weekends, but someone always came. Now, eventually 4 hours a day wasn't enough and as mom deteriorated, I got her on Medicaid and our divine angel went with me to take mom to the nursing home. Between the two of us, it was a done deal, she was invaluable.  Because of course I had no other help whatsoever... To this day I send her gift cards for Christmas and her birthday. She has her own family problems and health problems, but we all loved her to death, still do. So you never know....No one is in this to get rich, you know.  The agency takes a big chunk of the payment and the price kept going up over the 2-3 years.....Some of them come from quite a distance away. I only had one who did not work out - she was bringing her laundry with her and washing someone's dirty work clothes in mom's machine! Mom did not like that at all, and (she was getting 'funny' by then) said this caregiver was 'stealing her bananas'. So I called the agency and requested they send someone else.....I understand many churches have a list of caregivers, some retired nurses or home health aides, who sign up to work in the neighborhood if needed.  They are not vetted, it's under-the-table, and I suppose you take your chance with strangers coming into a home. (needless to say, I had removed everything of value, jewelry, antiques, credit cards, and checkbooks from mom's house before starting on the caregiver venture.  Never had any problems with sticky fingers, except for the lady 'stealing bananas'!
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I use a locally owned agency as it's cheaper than the national chains however they all pull from the same pool of applicants- of the 3 dozen or so caregivers they've sent in the past couple of years about 6 are golden

It is also hard to just fill a couple of hours here and there

The other alternative is to hire independently but no assurances then either
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We have used Home Instead for about 15 or 16 years. Some have not worked out, but are quickly replaced. I saw on another post where the best workers want longer hours. Maybe that is what happened with us. We have an angel in disguise who comes in 5 hours a day, 5 days a week. She has been with us for years. She is so good that she trains the other caregivers. A new person has been hired for the weekend and Home Instead assigned her to come last Saturday to train the new caregiver, so we had two caregivers that day - one in training (which we did not pay for)! We also have a step by step print out of duties and expectations.
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I was fortunate, I had a lady the last 3 years for my mom word of mouth. I had a agency before and not happy and it got pretty expensive. You also, have to watch when you have an agency having too many girls come through. You can end up with one bad apple. 
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hi dat1917,
I to have had a lot of trouble finding good in home care for my wife! About 10 year’s worth. I finally found two great care givers and an acceptable agency. Below is my 12 points of thing to look for and what I came to understand.
1. Find a caregiver that lives close to you! It is amazing how many problems this solves.
2. Find a care giver that does not have any other time commitments other than care giving. Several of the agencies hirer collage students which have class schedules and when their schedules change they will quit. Also if you are their second job it’s a big red flag for me. I have had more than a few not show up because they had to work late at their primary job.
3. Be inpatient with the agency. I stayed with several agencies far too long. You are paying them to manage their care givers. I would not stay with an agency whose caregivers didn’t show up more than 5 times a year. If the agency does not do a good job at first they will not get better no matter what they say.
4. Not to be prejudice against the young but I have had better luck with older retired or older housewife caregivers without small children at home. However watch their health. I have had several agencies send people out who could not walk up a flight of steps. Also be wary of their mental state. Being weird is O.K. but I have had several, sent by agencies, which were just completely gone out to lunch. Some of them denned doing thing I know they did. Saying crazy things that they do in their lives and for their health is very common and is easily ignored. We had a vegan once who wanted to completely change all the stuff we eat. She didn’t last long.
5. Each care giver has their own way of doing things. Some of which bother me to know end. However I came to understand not to sweat the small stuff.
6) Buy a safe and lock up all the valuables and meds.! Including yours!
7) Wright down all the things that you want the care givers to do(and really be specific and think about it)!!! Then make a check list of the important stuff for them. My list was a full 3 single space typed pages long. I then created the check list from that which was one page double spaced. I give the new care givers only the check list because I find that they don’t know how to read (most likely don’t want to).
8. I do my own training. The first shift I do all the work and they watch. Also, I review my big list before the shift and while I am doing the work I also talk about all the stuff on my list. The second shift they do all the work and I watch and correct them as needed and go over the big list again. This also gives me a good indication of their physical abilities and mental state. It usually takes about a month before they fully get the routine. Make sure they understand that questions are O.K. If after a month they still haven’t figured out the routine something is wrong and you need to dump them. If you can’t be around consider getting some hidden recording devices just to observe what they do when you are not watching them.
9. There is no substitute for developing a personal relationship with the care givers. The agencies tell them not to do this but I find most of them will anyway. It also can provide an early warning if something is wrong or they are planning to leave. Also, help them out if you can! I rotundity give my care givers a ride to the airport or a ride to pick up their car from the repair shop. If they will not open up to you it’s a Red flag for me.
10. Make sure they understand that this is not phone time. Every Caregiver we have had a phone problem. The quality of the care is a lot better when they are not distracted by their phones.
11. Be sure that the caregivers know that you will not can them just because the patient gets angry with them. My wife constancy complains that the caregiver does not do her job correctly. I know better.
12. My wife is very sentive to pain! Even when I am her caregiver she clams I have really injured her. I know better! So I have on occasion had to reassure the caregivers that I understand accidents will happen and that she will magnify an inadvertent scratch completely out of proportion. Of course real abuse is another thing.
I hope this helps!
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Comfort Keepers is a wonderful agency.
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Look for an agency that hires employees and not independent contractors. When a company hires independent contractors, it cannot tell the independent contractors how to do their jobs. The biggest issues I've had with caregivers, especially ones who are independent contractors, is: thinking that it's okay to be watching T.V. constantly, thinking that it's okay to be on the phone 24/7, and wanting to give the patient products such as Ensure or Boost, which are filled with ingredients that have an extremely high glycemic index, which is something you don't want to be giving the elderly who aren't that mobile and might have diabetes.
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Dat, I feel your pain. I started out with private pay but the quality of caregivers/home health aides is not good. At least in my area, which is a small town, the people who can't get jobs turn to home health aides because they think it's easier. Problem is it's not easier and most of them are unreliable and lack the proper skills and knowledge.
I have also gone through an agency before. The problem was I couldn't afford the rate through the agency for very long and mom's care escalated beyond what the local agency could provide over a short period of time anyway.
Then I had to move mom onto Medicaid and was awarded 24/7 care through the state of NY CDPAP program. You were required to go through an agency, they were supposed to help you find the aides and they paid them. Well, the agency fell short of getting my help most of the time. I resorted to going on care.com to find aides.
Again, it's hard to find reliable home health aides no matter where you go. I did happen across one retired RN that only wanted part-time hours (unfortunately), but she was great and stuck with me until the end. Mom passed on Dec 8, 2017. :(
It is unfortunate that the home health aide industry doesn't have better training and that it doesn't bring in a higher level of help primarily due to the low pay. Ugh.
Good luck. Just keep pushing through and you will get there. I did, but it wasn't easy by any stretch.
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Hi - We are a national agency that staffs caregivers, and we've dealt with every situation discussed here. Here are some tips for how best to work with an agency and a caregiver:
- The better caregivers want to work longer shifts. If you can do something like eight hours a day, three days a week, you'll get a better/more reliable person vs. a shorter shift (2-3 hours every day). Caregivers don't like these short shifts because they spend too much time driving around, so if you've got someone working that schedule, he or she will likely quit if something "better" (= longer) comes along.
- The better caregivers want extra money. If your situation is challenging (LO has poor behavior, very remote house), or if it is very important that the person show up every day (for instance to be on an international conference call), talk to the agency about paying an extra dollar or two an hour. Again, you'll attract a better quality caregiver and the $20 extra dollars you pay a week will be very worth it
- Again, if reliability is an issue, you may be better going through one of the bigger agencies. In our large offices, we keep an "extra" caregiver available in case one of the other caregivers has a problem. If s/he does not get staffed with a client, we'll have him or her do office work.
- Agencies vary a lot. Most national brands (like Home Instead, mentioned here) are franchises with each office owned by a different person, so a great experience in one location (where the franchise owner is fantastic) doesn't necessarily mean you'll have a great experience somewhere else (if that franchise owner isn't quite so good). Check references, check Internet reviews for the specific office in your town, ask friends and medical professionals for recommendations in your town.
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Oh boy, do I feel your pain. I've been using a care agency for two years..Senior Bridge. In my area they closed but re opened under a new name. There were still some no shows, or people who were late. This meant I had to call in to work or show up late. It affected my yearly review, bit I'm still working. It is true that no matter what the agency charges you, the caregivers make no more than 10 dollars an hour. Keep trying different places. It's worth the effort so you can get out.
Getting away feels so good, doesn't it? Hang in there. Consider using a grocery store that delivers, like Walmart, so you're not wasting your free time grocery shopping.
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I have used the local Home Instead in my area. Although it is known to be "one of the better agencies," I still had problems with them. Thankfully, the aide that I had from them was quite good, just the agency itself was the problematic, unsupportive, unhelpful party. A social worker once told me that all agencies were the same; it just depended on who answered the phone that day when you happen to call. In other words, it is a gamble when it comes to the agency/caregiver; sometimes you can luck out and get a very good agency caregiver, and other times, not so much. Given this, the social worker advised me to hire a private, independent caregiver, and that's what I did.

I find private hires can be challenging too, and I've been through quite a few in my four years of taking care of my mom who has Alz. Disease. Thankfully, I have found two that are serious, professional women who work well with me to provide comfort and good care to my mom. (Both aides were referred to me from acquaintances.) I truly appreciate these caregivers and pay them a competitive rate. And because I also do the caregiving work still myself, I am constantly empathizing with them, providing them with the tools they need to do the job, and supporting them throughout.

If you are able to cover some of the hours with a privately paid worker, I would also recommend you search at local churches, by asking everyone you know (e.g., doctors, nurses, social workers), and by checking with those from local support groups if participants can recommend anyone. Great people are out there and want to work. The challenge can be in finding them.
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Hi Dat1917,

My husband and I were the primary caregivers for his elderly mother who had advanced Alzheimers. Several days a week we had independent caregivers found by referrals. As expected, some were good while several were not, but the good ones were gems, and we had those two up to the time of my mother-in-law passing. Echoing KatieKate - check churches, friends, social organizations. That may be more difficult other than by phone, since you're a shut-in along with your patient.

I suggest you find more than one caregiver, because if you have one that's really dependable and that you like, they too will have their own family challenges, automobile problems or whatever. I'm just trying to say to not get your heart set on the 'good one' you end up with. Have an alternate caregiver at hand just in case, so you too don't entirely depend on 'the one'. We hired an alternate for fewer days and hours, but she was also a gem and willing to take on more hours and days when needed.

Another point I wanted to make comes as a concern for yourself! You didn't mention how long you have been the caregiver, but you may want to consider using a respite care opportunity soon. That may help during the time you're looking for caregivers; to at least have a day or two for you to recharge yourself. You may also want to look into an Adult Daycare program, which may provide you some relief one day a week or so. However, I realize getting your loved one out of the house for any outing can be in itself a significant amount of increased work just to prepare them for the day.

Last suggestion - if you're a person of faith - simply thank God that He will bring the right people into your life to help; new caregivers, a new friend etc.
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We use Home Care 4 U and are totally satisfied. Never had a problem getting a care giver nor them showing up. They schedule
any time during any 24 hour time. I do not know if they are available in your area.
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Dat 1917 I gave up dealing with caregivers agency for my 91yo mom after I lost my at home job working with an international company in Europe. I had a daily meeting at 10am EST and 4:00pm Spain time. The no show were chronic and then they would upset me by saying I can make up the next day. Which, I would not allow any make-up days unless it was my fault and not allowing them to stay late was something I did not allow as well to make up for missed days. I did say if the miss days was my fault I would make up the miss day. So, because of the no shows I would miss my daily meeting and I was let go!

Also, you know you are in trouble if the agency employees or 1099 arriving at your door complaining on their cell phones to their friends and co-workers! That is a major sign to find another agency an upscale agency! Those agency usually charge $18 to $20 bucks an hour with a minimum of 3 hours and I do tip. So times it's worth it to get out and take in a movie.

Thus, I have no one coming in the home to help me with my mom even thou I have four brothers living in the same town. Who are just sorry! I arrived home to avoid going to jail. My five sorry brothers left the care of my then 87yo mom to the care of my brother with an intellectual disability (very low IQ)

Thus, I buy most of my household items online. My mother's adult diaper, chucks and wipes comes via delivery as well. Now, that food can be order on line and delivered to my house that is how I will address purchasing groceries just to avoid an undependable caregiver. Last but not least I save money or keep my credit card balance at zero and take a five, ten or 14 days vacation and place my mom in SNF or AAL when it gets bad. I am now saving for a 30 day vacation it takes me about 90 days to plan for the big trips. Three cities out west then to England and France. I am not getting any younger as well and I had plan to travel when I became an empty-nester! I was a nester for only two-years when I have to relocate to my childhood home and take care of my mom full-time. Dat1917 work it out at your pace and contact your local Area Agency On Aging -- they help me out with adult diapers, wipes and chucks and reimburse me for caregiver bills and/ or Skilled Nursing Facility /Adult Assisted Living bills.
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During the 18 months my parents needed in-home caregivers...I hired 5 people.

The first was hired privately... she was a disaster. Took the pay and failed to show up, or on one occasions dropped my disabled Dad at a clinic and refused to come back and get him....all during what was her shift!

The next 2 were found through the church. Both were wonderful. Both became close friends. Both were with us to the end.

The other 2 were part time, fill in From an agency. Both were not at all reliable.

So...I recommend you check with other friends, church, social groups.
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Finding good, reliable caregivers is very difficult. I found the current group of caregivers for my mother by word of mouth, through a local doctor who had seen a caregiver from that group accompany her patient to visits.

Here's an idea that comes from a friend: Peruse the obituaries (heck, I'm of an age where I do that anyway). Often an obit will thank caregivers, if not by name then by agency. My friend saw that the father of someone she knew had passed, and that his caregivers were named in the obit. She called the deceased's daughter, who praised the caregivers to the skies and gave my friend their contact information. My friend hired the caregivers for her mom before the deceased's visitation even took place.

I am paying top dollar for private care for my mom, and consider myself lucky to only be on my second care agency. The first was a disaster: caregivers poorly screened or not at all, caregivers so lacking in skill that they dropped my mom, yet another who seized my mom by her neck and bad hand (stroke side) when my mom asked to get out of bed ... I could go on and on. The current group has been excellent, by and large, and so I am prepared to overlook some things. The problem now is that there is some kind of conflict going on between the agency owner and one of my mom's caregivers, and I have been drawn into it (although I still don't fully understand what's going on).

I will echo what's been said above: Most of the ladies who have cared for my mom seem to have financial or family issues. The current group is very professional and we've not, so far, had times when there were gaps in coverage, and for that I am very grateful.
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Hello Dat1917. I have used a home health agency for my mom for about 4 years. I typically don't mention the name because I'm not sure of the rules for commenting on specific businesses, but as at least 2 people have mentioned it, I will say the agency I have had is Home Instead. Yes, they are nationwide. But it is a franchise that is individually owned and operated. The one that I use has been horrible. I have commented on it a few times here and have shared with my friends the level of incompetence I personally experience as a client who spends literally thousands of dollars and makes every effort to stay in touch, do "shifts" myself, etc. So, of course, people says to me, why don't you just switch agencies. I would have a long time ago, but 90% of the "helpers" have been beyond wonderful. Sometimes I don't understand why they stay with Home Instead because they are treated horribly: constant calling and badgering them to take shifts, yelling at them, and generally showing no respect or consideration for them. I do my best to support them and help them out - I am more their supervisor than Home Instead is. It is like a female underground! Plus, when you switch agencies, especially for a large number of hours, it becomes a big rigamarole, which for my 91-year-old mom with dementia, would be very disturbing. So I am trying to hang in there with them for the duration. The definite advantage of a nationwide agency is they have to provide someone if the scheduled person calls off. Good luck!
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Most aides/CNAs who work in homecare are good and caring workers. However, they are low paid, usually own older vehicles and may have family issues. That said, probably you may find a national agency with backup workers a better choice. I would ask agency about emergency coverage.
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I agree with freqflyer, contact Home Instead Senior Care. I work for them and they are nation-wide. They are a good organization to work for and they make every effort to fill shifts when others can not make it. I hope you find some relief. All the best to you.
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I agree with Ginach. You have to work WITH hired caregivers because they are poor. I’ll just say it, if a person is trying to make a living taking care of elders in their homes, it’s very hard. The clients cancel, weather happens, there are catastrophic events in the caregivers families. These will effect your caregivers because they are human beings too.
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Paid caregivers have lives with challenges too. Older cars that do not start in bad weather, children or grandchildren that cannot go to school on snow days, etc, it is difficult to find one that has a reliable car and no family obligations of their own. When you find the right one, it is best to work around their challenges.
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For the most part caregivers hired through an agency are paid less than Walmart workers. You get what you pay for.
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I think everybody has some frustrations to some extent - no-shows, delays and excuses, individuals who at first sight aren't the sort of people you would normally want in the house :/ - but then turn out to be worth their weight in gold.

One thing that can make a huge difference, though, is where you live. If you're hard to get to or in a sparsely populated area, then naturally there are simply going to be fewer caregivers around. Something to bear in mind for all of us who dream of country cottages for our old age...
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Dat, keep up the good fight! You will find an agency that’s dependable.. and if they let you down, switch agencies again. I agree, the people aren’t all very committed. (And my deck had snow two days longer than others.) I’m in between helpers and need to get pumped to try again, sign up yet again with another agency, see who they send, etc. Good luck, you deserve the help!
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Dat, keep looking for an caregiving Agency you would be happy with. I realize depending on where you live, you may not have a variety of Agencies that you can call.

I used a nationwide group called Home Instead, and here in my area they were excellent.
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It is self pay. I do not have at night . Just a few hrs in a couple evenings and a couple of hrs in daytime 2 times a week so I could go out and do errands. It just started this week. Other agency had for 3 weeks and she barely showed up.
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Dat, are you using a private Agency where your Mom pays for the caregivers, or are you using an Agency where Medicaid pays for the care? I have heard that it is more difficult when one isn't self-paid.

My Dad was self-pay, and the caregivers showed up for each of their shifts [3 shifts], and if it was a really snowy day the owner would pick up the caregivers and leave them off at their client's house. Or if bad weather was on its way overnight, the 3rd shift caregiver would stay and fill in for the 1st shift if the 1st shift couldn't make it in.

I know when it comes to driveways, it depends on which direction one's driveway faced. My neighbors across the street would have clear driveways while I would still have several inches of snow and ice on my driveway because the driveway faced north.
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