Before Privately Hiring a Caregiver
Choosing to hire a caregiver directly instead of through an organization like Right at Home is an option that some families may think about before making the right decision for them. Usually this is for financial reasons. Because of this, we have created a little guide to help you understand both what you will need to think about when hiring a caregiver and some of the risks and extra effort required on your part.
First and foremost it's important to understand what the risks are. These are things that are usually mitigated by hiring a reputable home care organization.
You are the Employer
When hiring a private caregiver, you are now the employer. You are responsible for ensuring they have an employment agreement, all personnel forms, and that you are reducing the required taxes from their wages. You are also responsible for submitting these deductions to Revenue Canada, issuing Records of Employment, T4 statements, and other requirements of formal employers. You also need to register as an employer with your province's Workplace Safety Insurance and ensure you are paying your fees for coverage. Some families are prepared to do all of this, others are simply not.
Employment Standards Act
As an employer, you are responsible to ensure that your Private Caregiver (your employee) is provided with protection with respect to hours of work, protected breaks, statutory holiday pay, vacation pay, personal emergency leave and other complex considerations under Employment Standards.
Such things like ensuring the caregiver is not working overtime, keeps within the legal number of hours of work are serious considerations. Ensuring your Live-In Caregiver isn't disturbed on their off-time, and that your loved one is not relying on the Caregiver outside their contracted hours of work are all your responsibility as an employer of a private Caregiver.
Before hiring an in-home caregiver, be sure to check their insurance policies. It’s also important for the caregiver to hold their own malpractice policy in the event that your loved one is injured by the care they are providing. Without this, there is no assurance of accountability. They should also have a bond for repayment of any and all household items they could possibly damage or break.
As their employer, you will also be responsible for setting up an employer account and paying to ensure they are covered under your province's WSIB/Workplace Safety Insurance. Your household insurance is simply not enough.
Personal background check
Who is your employee? It's important to get a background check for that Caregiver. These can be done using your local police service. The downfall is that this is just a local check. If they have a record in other parts of the country, you may not be alerted to this. Background checks and certifications can easily be falsified, so beware of those coming with a pre-existing check.
Once a candidate has passed all necessary background checks, it’s important to ensure the caregiver you’ve chosen has what it takes to make sure your loved one is safe, and is keeping up on the latest educational information pertaining to their field of care. Look for a caregiver who shows motivation to continue to be educated. This means that they are doing new online courses every year or are active members of organizations like OPSWA/CANSWA. A Caregiver committed to their career is a great Caregiver!
Are they the right Caregiver for your loved one?
Now that we have the legal and liability things out of the way, it's important to look at if they are the right person for your loved one in two ways.
1. Do they have the right skills for your loved one's specific needs. Does your loved one need medication administration or customized Dementia support etc? You need to ensure this caregiver is qualified to give the best quality of life care for your loved one.
2. Personality. This is a big one. If they don't "click" then the situation won't be enjoyable for your loved one OR the caregiver.
If your caregiver is sick
When hiring directly, there’s always the risk that the Caregiver will become sick or injured, will need time off, or simply won’t show up for work.
In the event that this should happen, it’s recommended to have a list of screened, competent back-up caregivers who will be able to report for duty at a moments notice.
Risks of "paying under the table"
Not only is this illegal, but it puts your loved one at significant risk. A private Caregiver wanting to get "cash" is likely not insured, may not be legally able to work, and overall not considering your loved ones safety first.
Some other questions to ask when hiring a caregiver
If you decide on home care, there are several questions to get you thinking about all the actors involved:
1. Is my family prepared to become an employer? Are we familiar with the various employment laws, willing to be legally responsible for deducting and remitting caregivers tax, CPP and EI contributions relating to their employment, getting Workplace Safety insurance and paying those premiums?
2. Is my family willing to take the measure to ensure that my private Caregiver is legally able to work in Canada and does not have a criminal record or any grievances?
3. Is my family willing to ensure my private Caregiver has full liability insurance in case of an incident with my loved one?
4. Is my private Caregiver willing to provide references, and is my family willing to investigate those references?
5. Is my family willing to "step in" when the Caregiver is sick, takes holiday or does not show up for work? Is my loved one able to be on their own without care if there is an interruption of care? Is my family willing to have an alternate solution?
6. Does my family understand how, when and under what circumstances we can release our private Caregiver from our employment?
7. If paying "cash" - is my family willing to take the risk of hiring a Caregiver illegally and the legal ramifications of that?
Hiring your own Caregiver is not a straightforward process but if you are careful to follow along with this guide you will be setup to be more successful.