Checking a Caregiver’s Background

Health, Home & Family
on September 6, 2011

When hiring a caregiver for an aging relative, it’s better to start sooner than later.

   “The biggest mistake is waiting until you need someone yesterday,” says Leah Eskenazi, director of operations and planning at the Family Caregiver Alliance in San Francisco. “If you’re rushed, it’s easy to let checking references and doing a criminal background check fall by the wayside.” Yet these steps are crucial for your loved one’s protection. Here’s what to do:

  • References. Call references, and don’t be shy about asking questions. Joy Loverde, author of The Complete Eldercare Planner, suggests asking: What were this person’s strengths and weaknesses? Did you find the person trustworthy and reliable? Were there any problems with alcohol, drug abuse or smoking? Would you rehire this person?
  • Background check. A recent report by the California Senate found that one-quarter of caregivers accused or convicted of crimes had committed previous offenses. Eskenazi says that paying for a criminal background check is money well spent. Call your local law enforcement agency to find out how.

  Be sure to conduct a thorough interview with the applicant as well, and “listen to your gut,” Loverde says. For a list of questions to ask prospective caregivers, download the Hiring In-Home Helpers Checklist from