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Risks of Hiring a Private Caregiver

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the number of home care aides was projected to grow by 48 percent between 2008 and 2018. This growth is the result of the rise in people over of the age of 65 needing home care and the need to replace those that leave the industry. With numbers on the rise like these, it may be tempting to cut corners and hire a private caregiver, but at what cost? There are significant risks when hiring a private worker, and we feel it’s extremely important that seniors and their families are aware of them.

Financial Risks

When hiring a private caregiver, you are assuming the role of an employer and are responsible for withholding and paying all relevant state and federal employment taxes. If you make the risky choice to pay them “under the table” and the IRS conducts an audit, you will face high penalties and fines. Your private caregiver must pay taxes as an independent contractor, and the employer (you, or the senior receiving care) is responsible for issuing an IRS Form 1099 at the end of the year. This involves the responsibility for calculating hours and wages paid for the entire year, and filing the appropriate form with the IRS.

Health Risks

The health risks alone are overwhelming when you hire a private caregiver as opposed to working with an agency. Professional agencies typically do extensive background checks, and at Shepherd’s Staff In-Home Care, we go the extra mile when vetting our caregivers. We will do a county, state, and national background check, require and check 4-6 references, and pull driving records to be sure there are no drug or alcohol related incidents or excessive speeding tickets on their records.

Calling in a replacement at any time without a gap in coverage is not possible when hiring a private individual. Whether you need a replacement for a single shift or a permanent replacement due to employee conflicts, an agency can offer a backup of replacement caregivers, giving you peace of mind.

Liability Risks

Liability lies with the senior receiving in-home care and any work-related injuries to the private caregiver. The transmission of communicable diseases can cause liability issues, as well. Private caregivers rarely carry professional liability insurance, and the client may be responsible for paying not only medical bills but also lost wages until they can return to work.

Private caregivers generally come without bonding, which protects the homeowner against theft and breakage. Sadly, some scam artists may pose as caregivers in order to take advantage of older adults. Without a fidelity bond and liability insurance in place, there is little protection for you or your loved one. Finally, caregivers have been known to abuse elderly clients in various ways, ranging from verbal insults to outright theft or even physical harm. If you or someone you know has been a victim of elder crime, there are resources available in Maryland.

Hiring someone to work in your home comes with  associated risks that you must protect yourself against. . We recommend hiring a professional care agency to ensure proper care and reduce the risks associated with hiring a private caregiver. If you have any questions or would like more information on how we hire our caregivers, please contact us today.

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