Special Needs In-Home Care: Questions to Ask When Hiring a Caregiver

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In-home care for special needs children is a great option for working parents, senior parents of adult special needs children or parents who need a little break now and then. It allows your kids to feel comfortable in a familiar environment and helps them to feel safe by keeping their schedule predictable and consistent.

However, finding a caregiver for your special needs child can be nerve-wracking, and you may feel apprehensive about leaving the care of your child up to someone unknown to you. However, with thorough research on in-home care and a few thoughtful questions, you can find an in-home caregiver who is right for your child.

Why Are They Interested in the Position?

This question gives you a good opportunity to assess their personality and gauge their level of interest and motivations for applying for the job. Look for someone whose answers are focused on your child rather than what the position can do for them. Also, look for someone with a positive outlook who is passionate about caring for others.

Make sure you thoroughly outline the position and your expectations so the candidate understands what the position will entail.

Have They Cared for Children or People with Special Needs Before?

Caring for children with special needs generally poses additional challenges than standard care. Candidates with prior experience with special needs clients are more likely to have the patience, skills and temperament to deal with any challenges that might arise.

However, if a candidate stands out to you without extensive experience, look for other types of caregiving experience such as babysitting or camp counseling. People who naturally gravitate towards kids are more comfortable around them and can learn the necessary skills to care for your child.

Do They Have Some Knowledge of Your Child's Particular Needs?

While you shouldn't expect every candidate to be an expert on your child's special needs, basic knowledge of a particular condition shows they are interested in the caregiver position and have the right knowledge to do a good job.

Also, inquire about their relevant medical experience and skills if your child requires special medical attention such as trach or ventilator care.

Can the Candidate Provide You with All Necessary Documentation?

Because your loved one will be spending a lot of time with their caregiver, it is essential to confirm their identity and qualifications so both you and your loved one can feel safe.

Request copies of a photo ID, social security and address and phone numbers, as well as consent to a background check. They should also provide copies of current qualifications pertaining to the skills required for the position such as CPR training, autism care or other certifications.

Finally, some special needs patients have compromised immune systems, so ensure potential candidates can provide you with documentation regarding their health status including up-to-date immunizations.

Is Your Caregiver Bonded and Licensed?

A licensed caregiver is held to the highest standards of care according to official regulatory boards which vary from state to state. They are often required to undergo continuous professional development to maintain their license which means they are always knowledgeable about up-to-date care practices and healthcare technologies.

Unfortunately, there have been cases of caregivers stealing from their vulnerable clients. If a caregiver is "bonded," it means the bonding company will pay you a certain amount to cover the cost of theft. Bonding acts as additional insurance for you and your loved one, and most candidates found through an agency will be bonded.

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What is Their Current Schedule and Long-Term Plans?

This may sound like an irrelevant question but is important to ascertain whether the caregiver can become a regular long-term fixture in your child's life. Consistency is a significant part of caring for a special needs child as it provides them with a sense of continuity and security. If the candidate is only interested in a short-term or casual position, you may need to reconsider them as an option.

Are the Caregiver and Your Loved One Compatible?

A special needs caregiver will be spending a significant amount of time with your child and may need to assist them with intimate tasks such as dressing and personal hygiene, so when choosing a caregiver for your child with special needs, it is important to consider whether they will get along with each other.

Try to involve your child in the decision-making process as much as possible to make sure they are receptive to their new caregiver and feel comfortable around them. Consistency and compatibility are the keys to any caregiver-patient relationship.

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Final Thoughts

The answers to the questions above should give you enough information to make an informed decision about the person who is best suited to care for your special needs child. However, there is one final question you should ask during an interview to ensure you find the right person for the job: Do you have any questions?

Giving the candidate an opportunity to ask well-thought-out questions about the position will provide you with an idea about their level of interest in the job and, ultimately, let you better understand the kind of person they are.

In-home care is a great option for special needs kids, and the more you understand about your potential caregiver, the more comfortable and happy you and your child will be.

Stacey Warren