What kind of caregiver do you choose when you need one? Not all caregivers are alike. Caregivers are as different as individuals are different. To get the best caregiver for yourself or for a loved one, requires that you pay attention to more than just the bottom-line. To learn what else should be considered in your selection process, read on.

Experience and Professionalism

Caregivers need to be experienced in the area of your need, and caregivers need to be professional in the way they conduct business and provide service. You don’t need a caregiver that you will need to motivate to work, to clean up after, or to worry about behavior in public. You don’t need a caregiver you can’t trust to do the job hired for. You do need a caregiver with experience in your area of need, one who is familiar with the job requirements, one can work without your supervision, and one who can anticipate needs.

Limited Experience

Young caregivers–especially new ones right out of caregiver-training–have little professional experience to draw on. The very young may also have limited driving experience, limited cooking experience, less maturity when it comes to care decisions, and limited knowledge of diseases or health conditions. You will need to decide how important it is to you that your caregiver be world-wise.

Physical or Language Limitations

Any caregiver with physical concerns, such as bad back, severe obesity, or end-term pregnancy, may not be able to fulfill some of the physical expectations of the job. In addition, a caregiver who does not speak your language well, may have difficulty being the kind of advocate needed at the doctor’s office. Furthermore, problems could arise when there is a breakdown of communication between yourself, the client, other family members, or the nursing staff.

Personal Qualities

Other considerations to keep in mind regarding your possible caregiver are personality and values. This person will be spending time in your home and time with you or your loved one. It will be important that you can trust the person and that the client feels comfortable with the person.

Caregiver personality is important too. If the client needs a caregiver to be entertaining, then choosing a shy, reserved caregiver won’t be the right fit. If the client needs a caregiver to be of the same gender–to feel comfortable about personal exposure–then the opposite gender won’t do. If the client wants to be able to identify with the age of the caregiver, then finding one who meets that condition is important.

Matching Experience with Need

Let the agency serving you know your needs, but also let the agency know your desires regarding the qualities and experience of the caregiver you need. For example, if you have a stroke-survivor, getting a caregiver with stroke-related experience–one who understands aphasia or expressive language disorders–is pretty important for the needs of the client. Also, a diabetic needs a caregiver who understands how to cook for or shop for the health of a diabetic.

Interview as Many as it Takes

If you interview independent providers (IP’s) to be your caregiver, don’t be afraid to interview several. The more you interview, the greater the chance you have of finding the one that best fits. Having the kind of caregiver that is able to function in the home comfortably, is vital for the client and equally vital for the comfort and ease of others living in the home.

Select a caregiver with care. Consider more than the cost; consider the age, the health, the interests, the personality, the experience, the certification, and the gender of the person you plan to hire as caregiver. It may take several interviews or a few caregiver trials to discover what you really need and want from a caregiver. But in the end, you will find someone who genuinely fits your situation and need.