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Interview Checklist for Choosing the Right Respite Caregiver

by Jill Kagan, Respite Care Expert
June 22, 2012

Question: What kinds of questions do I need to ask while interviewing a respite caregiver who will be taking care of my senior parent while I am away?

Answer: Leaving a loved one in someone else’s care can be a little frightening at first, but it doesn’t have to be if you prepare in advance. Some states require licensing or credentialing for respite providers. While such oversight can be reassuring, it is still important to do your own thorough background and qualifications' check, especially if you are dealing with individuals who are not associated with companies or agencies. Most company and agency providers will have done background and reference checks for their employees, but do not assume, ask instead. Here is a quick checklist to use when considering a provider:

1. Conduct a telephone screening
2. If the person meets your basic requirements, do a personal interview
3. Ask for references
4. Check references
5. Evaluate costs and financing
6. Write a contract that provides specific details

The idea is to get to know the prospective provider as well as possible before committing to the relationship. Then, you must communicate your expectations in very specific terms. Finally, these expectations should be in writing to help assure that both parties understand them, and will not need to rely on memory if and when difficulties arise later. For more detailed information when considering respite for someone of a specific age or with a certain condition, see free downloadable ARCH Fact Sheets.

A variety of consumer guides, workbooks, and checklists are also available to help you sort out the myriad of options you may have in your community, and in some instances, offer guidance so you can train the respite provider yourself.  ARCH maintains examples of these checklists on its consumer page, the ABCs of Respite under How to Choose a Provider. ARCH also recently updated its National Respite Guidelines that may help you learn what to look for in a high quality respite setting.

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Jill Kagan, MPH, is the Director of the ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center and Chair of its policy division, the National Respite Coalition. ARCH has been a leader in the areas of respite research and evaluation, training, advocacy, and consumer issues for more than twenty years.

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