Questions for references from sub home health aid

My husband’s parents are in their 90s. They still live in their home. They have a live-in caregiver, who was a family friend to begin with. I’ll call her Sweety.When she started, Mom was in a wheelchair, from Parkinson’s. Pop was pretty much self-sufficient.

Their routine then was she cared for Mom throughout the day. Pop would help Mom to bed at night and to the bathroom if she needed it during the night.

Sweety had evenings to herself. She could go out if she wanted or just hang out at home. She even took some classes during the week. They also have another woman who comes in for a couple hours a week to help with bathing and light housework.

Now, things have changed. Pop has had some small cardiovascular events. He’s lost nearly 50 lbs in the last 4 months. He’s ridden in the Big Red Bus three times in the last month.

Sweety now works 24/7 taking care of both of them. We’ve increased her pay, but that just isn’t enough. We have to hire a temp to give her some decent time off.

We found a woman willing to work weekends, who has another caregiver job during the week. We’ve interviewed her, but now need to check out her references.

What 4 questions should we ask her present and previous employers to ensure she’s the right person? The final decision will be up to Mom, Pop and Sweety, but we don’t want to waste their time on someone who wouldn’t be a good fit.


I’d want to know how long she’s been caregiver for her current ‘clients’ and other than the passing away of a client, has she ever quit or been fired? IMO when it comes to elder care consistency is a good thing, they don’t want to have to keep getting used to a new person every few months.

I’d want to sneakily watch her working with a client as well, to see how she behaves with the person. Before he died my father had Home Helps (carers who come in for an hour or so to wash and dress the person) One of them was a fine big handful of a woman, and although she was personable she was [unintentionally] very rough when she was helping him to dress, although that may be because she wasn’t fully aware of Dad having arthritis on his hips and shoulders… there was another woman who used to come in the mornings - always very well dressed (not just wearing leggings and a t-shirt), proper posh slacks and a ‘cashmere’ sweater with gold jewellery, who would stand and watch the other Home Help dealing with Dad and she didn’t do a thing. I heard it said she was fond of a drink, so you might want to avoid that type!

Are you getting someone from an agency or similar? Hopefully they’ve done proper background checks and the person has been properly trained - there was a show on RTÉ a while ago about a home care agency that didn’t train the staff at all :frowning:

It can be a bit of a minefield, all my Dad’s Home Helps were supplied by the local authority and had been given intensive training - but even so there were some no-hopers who slipped through.

Good luck, I hope you do find a good’un. Thank goodness your parents don’t object to ‘strangers’ helping them (unlike my Mother!)

The woman is someone my husband met at the gym. I’m not as trusting as he is. She would only be there every other weekend, but one could do a lot of damage in that time.
Mom doesn’t like strangers, but Sweety really needs a break. We live too far away to do it. Hubby’s brother, who lives close, is too lazy.
We’ve been blessed with an intelligent, well rounded woman, who loves the folks like her own family. She’s gentle with Mom and stands up to Pop, when necessary. I hope we can find her clone.
Thanks for your input.
The references have been called, but none have returned our calls. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad sign.

I’d say to let Sweety help interview as well. She knows their needs, preferences and comforts better than anyone and I’m sure she has developed quite a bond caring for them 24/7. I know she needs a break, but she’s practically family at this point (if not in heart, at least in familiarity) so she would have a good idea of “that’s just not how we do it around here” - I know she may be tempted to take the first warm body thrown at her, but I also would think she wouldn’t want to go through the opening spiel every time a new one came in and would be pretty invested in making sure you got someone everyone was comfortable with.

Good luck!

Oh, yes, indeed. She’s doing the interviews. She talked to the woman on the phone, and she’ll do the in-person interview with the folks. She asked us to call the references.

I’m 100% sure she won’t take anyone she has the least question about. She IS family in all but blood.

Ah, then you’re ahead of me! :slight_smile: I would definitely ask about having been fired or why she quit. I’d also ask if there are other duties she isn’t comfortable handling. I’d also try to ask what she has been uncomfortable with in the past. You definitely want to hear about all the bastards in the past who wanted her to show up on time.

When talking to former employers I’d ask about tardiness and absenteeism, general demeanor with patients (is she really good but rough or extremely dry?I am, but that’s why I’m better at ER or ICU, not a peds or hospice RN), maybe if there were any problems with paychecks (asking for advances).

Other than that I’m not really sure.

Well, it all fell apart. Her boyfriend told her she couldn’t take the job because it would take too much time away from him.
Maybe a blessing in disguise. Now we start from scratch.

Well, that does suck ass but from the sound of it you avoided some drama.