If you’re looking for senior care in the home, your options are to hire a private caregiver or work with an agency. Neither is necessarily best, but there are pros and cons to each approach.

If hiring independently, you’ll need to do your own recruitment, screening and hiring. That includes finding applicants, writing a detailed job description, checking references, conducting criminal background checks and ensuring that the caregiver you’re considering is properly certified. You’ll also need to file payroll taxes, withhold and pay Medicare and Social Security insurance for the caregiver and obtain liability insurance.

The advantage of using an agency is that the caregivers are recruited and screened by the agency. The agency will typically have strict procedures for screening, so you can feel confident that the person who comes to your loved one’s door has been thoroughly scrutinized. Additionally, the agency will likely provide ongoing training and supervise the caregiver.

An agency will also make all payments to the caregivers, which might include a revolving petty cash account for expenses like groceries and medicines, plus employment taxes and insurance. The agency will liaise with other members of the “Care Team” that may be helping your loved one, including RNs and other medical staff. And it will manage a backup schedule for emergencies, such as illness, vacation or sudden departure from another job, so your loved one’s care doesn’t suffer. This is a vital service that you can’t get from a registry. Caregivers agency

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