The Downsides of Hiring a Private Caregiver (vs Agency)

By June 15, 2018Caregiving

It’s not easy caring for aging parents yourself. While the tasks are initially minimal, such as shopping, meal preparation, light housekeeping, and laundry, this arrangement may work for only a set time. Experts in the field describe a slippery slope, where the workload for families and friends increases over time. This rising tide of caregiving tasks might not seem noticeable at the moment, but it often has a cumulative effect leading to caregiver burnout, resentment, and family conflict.

Families don’t have the experience or training to cope with the medical, emotional, and planning demands of elder care, which increases the strain. Seniors feel that stress in their family or support group, which increases their own stress level, and this negatively impacts their physical health¹ and can also lead to increased depression.

Challenges When Hiring a Private Caregiver

Families who choose to hire a caregiver privately or through a registry (rather than a caregiving agency) must remember to:

  • Report wages to appropriate government agencies
  • Pay the employer’s social security contribution
  • Withhold the employee’s social security contribution
  • Withhold state disability insurance contribution
  • Pay unemployment insurance
  • Provide workers’ compensation coverage
  • Keep records of hours worked by each employee and compute their pay by the hour
  • Pay the state minimum wage
  • Collect and forward each employee’s voluntary withholdings for state and federal income taxes

Responsibilities When Hiring a Private Caregiver

Here are some all-too-common scenarios that cause trouble for families attempting to hire an independent caregiver:

  • A caregiver gets hurt on the job. They file a workers’ compensation claim, and the family ends up being responsible for covering all of the caregiver’s medical bills, lost wages, and disability costs, as well as fines. In California, for example, the fine for a worker who is not covered by workers’ compensation is currently $10,000.²
  • A caregiver is fired or loses their job and files an unemployment claim with the state. The family of the senior is required to pay unemployment benefits as well as past employment taxes and fines.
  • The family fails to pay payroll taxes, resulting in a liability with the IRS. Payroll taxes currently include FICA (6.2%), Medicare (1.45%), FUTA (2.6%), SUI (3.4%). New employers are assigned a 3.4 percent UI tax rate for a period of two to three years.

If caring for elderly parents yourself makes the most sense for you and your family, make sure you understand and are prepared to handle all of your responsibilities.

Advantages of Hiring a Professional Caregiving Agency

A caregiving agency utilizes the employer model, which provides the following benefits of hiring professional caregiving services over a private caregiver:

  • Access to a variety of skilled caregivers
  • Greater flexibility when scheduling caregivers
  • 24/7 emergency coverage and support
  • Pre-screening and management of caregivers
  • Handle administrative work and liability associated with being the employer of caregivers, including taxes and withholding
  • Deep expertise in elder care gained through long-term work and training in the field.
  • The peace of mind of knowing that staff in your loved one’s home have been fully screened regarding references, criminal background, DMV, Social Security, drug use, and communicable diseases
  • Caregivers who have been thoroughly trained and receive ongoing management and support in such areas as physical care, transfer skills, behavior management, dementia care, and communication
  • A long-term plan for improving quality of life
  • A solid, actionable plan for emergencies
  • A holistic approach that accounts for the needs and concerns of the entire family
  • Reduced stress for the family and senior loved one

When it comes to caring for aging parents, you can never be too prepared. Unfortunately, that means considering all possibilities, no matter how painful. LivHOME is a caregiving agency that provides a comprehensive list of caregiving services, including personal care and companionship, and is fully licensed, insured, and bonded for your protection and safety.



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