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How to Choose the Right Long-Term Caregiver

The need for long-term caregivers in Washington State is reaching a crisis stage due to the combination of a rapidly aging population and a declining workforce. A 2018 estimate by the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, warns that by 2030, Medicaid beneficiaries alone would require 77,000 home care aides.

Given the high turnover rate in this profession, the number of caregivers needed to help this population is closer to 125,000. This is also just for Medicaid clients, not accounting for other insurance plans!

On top of that, the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are exacerbating an already unprecedented shortage of caregivers in Washington State. This is particularly obvious in its rural areas, where about 1 in 5 of Americans are older than 65.

But how do you choose the right caregiver, especially one that will not quit after just a few months? Here are some things to look for when choosing the perfect long-term caregiver.

Do They Have Good Instincts?

A great way to assess if a potential caregiver has the instincts that would make them your ideal candidate is to give them hypothetical situations and then discover how they would react.

For example, you may want to ask them how they would deal with a client who refuses to take a shower, eat, or use the restroom. Another example would be a client that uses offensive language, and gets frustrated or angry at them.

Gauging a potential employee’s responses to these questions will help you understand if they can handle problematic behavior and resolve conflicts before they escalate.

Another idea is to ask a candidate to imagine themselves in the role of a patient and learn which qualities they would be looking for in a potential caregiver.

Are Their Skills up to Par?

Of course, hypothetical questions may not be enough to give you a clear idea of whether a potential caregiver will be the right choice for you or not. You also need to learn about their past experiences and what brought them to interview for you.

Ask them about the skills that make them an ideal caregiver and specific past experiences where they put those skills to use.

You can also address skills they learned in previous work and the skills they would like to develop further that would help them become even better at their job in the future.

If there are certain skills you as an employer would like to help them acquire, you can suggest they complete an online caregiver training course.

Not only will they be able to complete it entirely at their own pace, but they will also save time and money on their commute. Cornerstone’s training programs are 100% online and can work with any schedule.

What About Their Past Experiences?

A potential caregiver’s past experiences may be the best way to gauge if they will be the right fit for you. Ask them about their previous training, how long they have been working as a caregiver, and their level of experience.

Perhaps they could share specific positive and negative things their previous employers might say about them. You will also want to know about the challenges they experienced while caring for a senior and how they were able to overcome those challenges. You can tailor this question as it relates to the specific condition relevant to your needs.

For example, if you are looking for a caregiver for a person with dementia, you can ask them about their experiences as related to caring for those afflicted with this condition.

Other questions that may prove helpful would be asking them about the most rewarding and difficult parts of caring for seniors. If they could return the time and return to their previous employment, is there anything they would have done differently?

What if They Are New to Caregiving?

If they haven’t worked in this field before, you can still use the interview time to ask about what made them choose this work and why they think it would be a good fit for them. Ask about their skills developed in other job fields and how those skills might help them.

So-called transferable soft skills, acquired at a different position, can make people perfect for caregiving jobs, even though they never worked in the industry before. Good organizational skills, high-level empathy, patience, and similar traits are an excellent base to build upon

Do They Have the Right Personality?

Your ideal candidate may be someone with plenty of experience as a caregiver but don’t be quick to discount those without prior experience. At the end of the day, certain skills cannot be taught.

Things like empathy, patience, and calm under pressure are necessary for a caregiver, and studies have proven that empathy plays a crucial role in developing trust and forging a strong relationship between a patient and a caregiver.

The goals here are to find out if they can put the emotions and feelings of others above their own, if they are a good listener, and are respectful of others’ boundaries. Here you may want to know about their career goals, values, achievements at or outside work, and what they hope to accomplish as caregivers.

You should also find out what aspects of the job are likely to exhaust or discourage them, as well as what they consider their weaknesses and how they would go on about improving them.

What Can You, as an Employer, Do for Them?

Finally, ask not what a potential caregiver can do for you, but what you can do for them, to help make their work experience as fulfilling as possible. This will also help improve their chances of staying with you long-term.

Learn about what motivates them the most (perhaps some rewards or recognition), about their deal-breakers, and the top factors that would persuade them to stay at a job long-term. You may want to know if their previous employers could have done something differently to make them feel more satisfied and perform more effectively.

Ask them about their questions and concerns and address them immediately. Discover how they prefer to communicate and receive constructive feedback. And perhaps most importantly, find out what their ideal schedules look like – what days and how many hours a week they would prefer to work.

Knowing this in advance will not only demonstrate if they are a good candidate for you, but also improve their experience working for you. The fact that you as an employer care about their needs from the very beginning may land you with a great long-term employee and reduce turnover.

All of these questions will undoubtedly prove helpful in finding the perfect caregiver for you, but feel free to add your own questions that will take into consideration your specific needs and requirements.

After the interview, remember to keep open and honest communication with your employee so that any issues or concerns are immediately acknowledged and addressed.

Using these tactics should help you to find the right staff for the job who will stay with you long-term.

As they gain knowledge and experience, Cornerstone will be here to help with further training and education to advance their career goals, on their own time, at their own pace, with our fully online, on-demand course platform.


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