Things to Consider When Hiring a Caregiver
When you are in need of home healthcare services for yourself or your loved one, the last thing you need to worry about is being exploited or taken advantage of when you are most vulnerable. At United Nursing Services, we understand that allowing a stranger to come into your home and personal space can be frightening and worrying. We want to share important information with you about hiring a caregiver to ensure that you or your loved one remain safe and personal assets are protected.
Demographically, Florida has one of the highest elderly populations in the country. It is a very transient area, making it an easy target area for theft and exploitation of the elderly. United Nursing Services believes that through education, the public can make better healthcare decisions.
Many people in need of home healthcare services choose to hire caregivers either privately or through nurse registries in an effort to save money by comparing only hourly rates. This “penny wise, pound foolish” approach can be very costly and exposes clients to risks and disadvantages:
• The client adopts the role of the employer, thereby assuming responsibility for FWT/FICA/Social Security taxes. Since there is no insurance protection such as Workers Compensation, Bonding, Liability or Malpractice coverage, you can find yourself in significant financial jeopardy. Do not assume that homeowner’s insurance will cover the theft of a precious item or the magnitude of a caregiver’s injury.
• The client is at risk for physical abuse, financial abuse and/or theft as caregivers are not screened as thoroughly when hired. Do not be under the assumption that abuse will never happen to your loved one. Sadly, it does happen and can go on for some time before anyone detects it. Effects of abuse can be emotionally, physically and/or financially devastating and no person should ever have to experience it.
• Using a licensed, certified home health agency such as United Nursing Services entitles you to a tax credit you might not be eligible for when hiring a caregiver privately. (See your tax advisor for details and regulations)
Although hiring from a registry may seem to give some protection compared to hiring privately, it only affords limited protection and limited scope of service:
• Registries do not provide all of the service levels that a home healthcare agency does.
• Depending on the services the registry is providing, in most cases they are only available during normal office hours, NOT 24 hours/day.
• Although nurse registry performs background screening, reference checks and credentialing, and most require the “independent contractor” (caregiver) to carry the minimum in malpractice insurance, the client is still the employer.
• While you may pay the Registry directly, Registries pay the independent contractors a percentage of the fee paid by the client BUT they do not withhold FWT/FICA/Social Security taxes.
To protect yourself or your loved one from the risks of exploitation and theft and the responsibility for worker’s compensation and employment taxes, refer them to a licensed home health agency such as United Nursing Services.