May 21, 2010, Newsletter Issue #305: How to Hire a Home Health Care Worker for ill or aging Spouse or Parent

Tip of the Week

A home health care worker improves opportunities for ongoing independence in cases of aging or illness. Choosing a home health care worker requires consideration of many factors such as compatibility, experience, skills and needs. The ideal search method will include specific criteria that can be used for screening that yields the best overall fit.

Write down needs and expectations. It is easier to find the right person when you are clear about what is expected, when it will happen and how it will be done. Consider using the needs-assessment worksheet at

Conduct a broad search. Ask friends and co-workers, place advertisements in the paper and on bulletin boards, contact agencies such as the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, and call schools that train certified nursing assistants. Include telephone and email contact information for ease of applicant contact.

Screen applicants by telephone before scheduling in-person interviews. Ask questions about experience, availability, special skills or training, and willingness to accept assigned duties.

Use the Eldercare Locator database at to find trustworthy help nationwide. Ask questions to determine the reputability of any agency chosen to provide home health care workers.

Conduct criminal background and reference checks. Ask applicant for picture identification and Social Security card. Contact the local police or sheriff's department for criminal background information and previous employers and instructors for references.

Hire a home health care worker. Consider instituting a probationary period of 30 to 60 days. At the end of this period provide feedback about what is going well and what is not. Use this evaluation to determine if the worker will be terminated or become permanent.


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