hiring a caregiver for in home help walking senior

Hiring in Home Family Caregivers: What you Need to Know

Are you thinking about hiring a caregiver for in home help to care for your loved one?  Finding someone with the skills to provide excellent care and the personality to get along with your loved one is critical.  Below we share information to help you find the right person for the job. We discuss ways to find a caregiver, 5 crucial steps to take when you are doing the hiring, and we provide average caregiver pay rates. We also provide a free downloadable in home caregiver job description sample to make the process easier for you!

In this post we review:

  • 4 Ways to find a caregiver
  • 5 crucial steps to take when you are doing the hiring
  • Average caregiver pay rates



How to Find an In-Home Caregiver 

Preparation is key when hiring a caregiver for in-home help.

Before you start your search, it is helpful to think through exactly what the caregiver will need to do.

Think about the level of care that your senior requires. The job responsibilities of your new hire will depend primarily on what your loved one can and cannot do.

Our post Caregiver Duties and Responsibilities reviews the common responsibilities of a home caregiver.

Determine when you want the help in the home and what type of help is needed. This can include medication management, personal care, and meal preparation.

Clearly defining what your expectations are will help you find a qualified person.




steps to take if hiring caregiver woman shaking hands with hired caregiver

Looking For a Caregiver?

Check Out These 4 Ways to Find One


1. Caregiver Agency

There are many in-home care agencies that you can use to find a caregiver.

Most agencies will send a representative to assess the patient’s needs to give you the most appropriate caregiver.

Before you invite them for a visit, you can request their catalog of service descriptions, fees, and even references.

This way, you can compare different agencies and read up about them before the visit.


Pros and Cons of Using an Agency When Hiring a Caregiver for In Home Help


  • They conduct background checks on the caregivers before hiring them.
  • Agencies who consider caregivers their employees coordinate payroll, taxes and follow the federal labor laws. Some agencies work with caregivers as independently contracted professionals, so it’s essential to confirm with the agency whether the caregiver is considered an employee or independent contractor.
  • Agencies are usually bonded (the bonding company is responsible for compensating for any theft on the premise by the caregiver), licensed, and insured. Being insured is essential if an injury occurs, for example, when the caregiver is helping to lift or move your loved one.
  • Usually, agencies can send someone else if the caregiver cannot work or needs a day off.
  • You can get a replacement if the caregiver isn’t performing well.
  • The agency will handle most complaints.



  • It’s usually more expensive than hiring a private caregiver.
  • You may not have complete control over who the agency sends to you.
  • Due to their formality, you might have no room for negotiations.


2. Home Care Registry 

A home care registry is more of a referral source.

You can check in with home care registries available in your area, specify your requirements, and they will match you with a suitable caregiver.

Usually, the registries will charge a one-time fee for every successful hire they connect you with. The caregivers from a registry are generally independent contractors.


Pros and Cons of Using Private Caregivers When Hiring a Caregiver for In Home Help


  • They are cheaper than agencies.
  • You have control and decision-making about who you hire.
  • You can initiate negotiations with the caregiver.
  • Together with the caregiver, you set the conditions that work for all parties.


  • It is usually your responsibility to conduct any background checks.
  • There may be inconveniences if the caregiver doesn’t show up for work.
  • Someone will have to manage payroll and taxes.
  • Likely the caregiver is not bonded or insured.
  • There is usually no worker’s compensation. So, for any on-the-job injuries, even falls or sprains, you may be responsible for the medical bills and any resulting disability.


Choosing a Home Care Registry vs. an Agency

Some important questions to ask to determine what is included when hiring a caregiver:

  • Are the caregivers certified and/or trained?
  • Who is responsible for performing background checks?
  • Is the caregiver an independent contractor or an employee?
  • Does the agency or registry provide worker’s compensation, unemployment insurance, and professional liability insurance for the caregiver?
  • What happens if a caregiver cannot work one day? Does the agency or registry provide a backup?
  • Does someone monitor the quality of care provided? For example, does the agency or registry conduct random visits or check in with you to ensure the caregiver performs adequately?


3. Personal Referrals

Another way to find a caregiver is through personal referrals.

Friends, family, and trusted community members, especially those who have previously hired a caregiver, can be an excellent resource for referrals. Be sure to ask.


4. Local Area Agency on Aging (AAA)

You can contact your local Area Agency on Aging and request referrals of caregivers or caregiver agencies in your senior’s area.

Your local Area Agency on Aging helps seniors find local community resources.





you are hired wooden blocks refers to in home caregiver job description

When You’re Doing the Hiring…. 



1.  Caregiver Job Description 

A caregiver is a professional, and the work they do varies from one job to another.

Consider writing an in-home caregiver job description outlining the duties the caregiver will perform.

An in-home caregiver job description will help you stay organized and identify all the needs of your senior. It will also clarify the role and tasks the caregiver must perform.

Additionally, it will be a tool to help you find someone qualified and a good match for your loved one.

Review the in-home caregiver job description to make sure you included all the tasks. You can review our sample caregiver job description.

Having an in-home caregiver job description clarifies the job requirements, and the caregiver will better understand your expectations. Ensure they can perform the tasks and are available to work the required hours and days.

Reviewing these details will weed out those who are unavailable, cannot perform the required tasks, or disagree with the pay.

After you hire a caregiver, having a daily caregiver checklist is also helpful, so the caregiver knows the job requirements. Click here for our free PDF printable caregiver daily checklist template.



2. Conducting Interviews

When you are hiring a caregiver, you will want to talk with them.

Like any other job, it’s essential to conduct interviews to assess the caregiver’s experience and suitability to your senior’s needs.

Depending on the situation, a phone interview can be used as an initial pre-screening process to ensure the caregiver is qualified.

But regardless of whether you pre-screen the caregiver on the phone, you will want to talk with them in person before doing any hiring. In addition, the caregiver should meet the senior whom they will be helping.

Consider taking notes on all of your interviews. Taking notes helps you remember information about each caregiver, like strengths and weaknesses, and enables you to compare the caregivers interviewed more easily.



3. Common Interview Questions

You will want to ask the caregiver some questions to see if they are a good match for your loved one. More specifically, you should discuss their caregiving skills and past work experience.

It’s essential to ensure the caregiver can perform the tasks for your senior. So, if your senior needs help to shower, eat, walk, and do laundry, you want to confirm the caregiver can do those things.

You may also want to ask questions to get to know the caregiver better, so you get a feel for their personality. It’s important the caregiver understands and gets along with your loved one.

Some sample interview questions include:

  • What makes you a good caregiver?
  • Please tell me about your work history.
  • What are some of the qualities that would make you a good caregiver?
  • How do you respond to challenging situations?
  • What is the greatest challenge while working as a caregiver?
  • What makes you the most excited about working with the elderly?
  • How do you motivate yourself on challenging days when you feel you lack motivation?
  • What was most challenging about your last job?
  • What experience do you have working or helping with seniors?
  • Why did you leave your previous job?
  • Explain the tasks that you would need done and ask what experience they have doing them.


4. Background Checks

Most agencies will have done this task for their employees, but you can still confirm. However, when you are hiring, you want to make sure the caregiver is genuinely qualified to do the job.

You can call past employers and confirm their employment dates and job titles. In addition, ask the caregiver for references and give them a call to shed more light on the caregiver’s personality.

Additionally, there are companies you can hire to do background checks. Pricing depends on the depth of the background check you want down.  Some areas for a background check include:

  • Criminal records
  • Education verification
  • Professional license verification
  • Work history
  • Driver history
  • Drug screening


5. Caregiver Contract

Having a written, signed caregiver agreement helps avoid conflict and communicates expectations by outlining important information.

The information in the contract should include things like the job responsibilities, wages paid, and expected work hours. You can use the caregiver job description as a guide.

Some independent caregivers may already have a prewritten contract. If any prewritten agreements are presented to sign, ensure that you read them well and inquire if you don’t understand anything.

If you hire an independent caregiver, it’s important to follow the law. According to the internal revenue service (IRS), an independent caregiver is a household employee. As household employees, they are under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) guidelines which set minimum wages and work hours.

If you are hiring a caregiver, it’s a good idea to consult with an elder law attorney to have a solid contract and follow all of the legal requirements.

Talking to an accountant will also be helpful so that you understand any tax implications. You can discuss things like the IRS guidelines for caregivers, what forms need to be submitted (e.g., Form W-2 or 1099), and employment taxes.

Getting professional advice upfront may cost some money now, but it can save you time, headaches, and money in the long run.




pay check with pen on table


Caregiver Pay Rates

Caregiver Pay Rates

There are many considerations on how much you should pay a caregiver. For example, your location, what type of care they will provide, and your budget.

It’s common to wonder if you are paying a fair amount, and what the average pay is for a caregiver.

To help with this, we will look at the Genworth Cost of Care Survey.

Genworth Cost of Care Survey 2020

The Genworth Cost of Care survey provides hourly median cost per state of in-home care by a home health aide. Genworth defines a home health aide as someone who assists with daily activities such as dressing, showering, toileting, housekeeping, shopping, transferring, and serving meals.

If the home health aid is trained, they can check vital signs, including pulse, temperature, and respiration rate. Usually, the educational requirement is a high school diploma.

The Genworth survey found that the median national 2020 hourly rate for a  home health aide to be $24.00.

Below is the median rate found per state.



Home Health Aides Median Pay Rate in Each State

Genworth Cost of Care Survey Results 2020

USA Home Health Aide
Alabama $18.00
Alaska $28.04
Arizona $26.00
Arkansas $20.00
California $29.00
Colorado $28.00
Connecticut $25.00
Delaware $25.00
District of Columbia $26.13
Florida $22.50
Georgia $21.50
Hawaii $30.00
Idaho $23.50
Illinois $25.50
Indiana $24.00
Iowa $26.00
Kansas $22.00
Kentucky $21.75
Louisiana $17.00
Maine $28.62
Maryland $25.00
Massachusetts $29.63
Michigan $25.00
Minnesota $33.00
Mississippi $18.50
Missouri $23.00
Montana $26.95
Nebraska $26.00
Nevada $25.00
New Hampshire $29.25
New Jersey $26.00
New Mexico $23.00
New York $26.00
North Carolina $21.00
North Dakota $29.00
Ohio $23.95
Oklahoma $23.95
Oregon $29.00
Pennsylvania $24.00
Rhode Island $31.00
South Carolina $22.00
South Dakota $29.00
Tennessee $21.00
Texas $22.00
Utah $26.00
Vermont $29.00
Virginia $23.00
Washington $31.63
West Virginia $18.50
Wisconsin $26.00
Wyoming $29.12

From the Genworth Cost of Care Survey, conducted by CareScout August 2020





happy caregiver walking senior woman



Thinking About Hiring an In-Home Caregiver?

Read our post Understanding Home Health Care to get in-depth information about the services usually provided for those in need of home care.

We have a FREE downloadable caregiver job description template that may be helpful in your hiring process. In addition, check out our FREE downloadable caregiver checklist to have an easy-to-do caregiver checklist that helps ensure the important things get done.

To help manage important health information,  download our FREE tracker tools that help you monitor common chronic conditions:

Blood Sugar Log, Simple

Blood Sugar Log, Complex

Medication Log Tracker

Blood Pressure & Heart Rate Log

Blood Sugar, HR, Wt., BP Log

Pain Management Tracker

Emergency Contact Sheet





Hiring a caregiver for in-home help can be exciting, and there are multiple ways to go about the hiring process.

An agency usually screens and trains the caregivers and provides backup staffing if your caregiver has to take time off. Although they may try to match a caregiver with your needs, you do not control what caregiver they send to the house.

A caregiver registry usually provides you names of caregivers in your area and charges if you find a match that you use. The caregivers are typically independent contractors, so they may not be bonded or have workers’ compensation insurance. Usually, there is no screening done, so it is up to you to perform background checks, interview, and hire the caregiver. Check out our free downloadable sample in home caregiver job description.

You can also ask friends, neighbors, your church, and others if they know of any caregivers looking for work. No matter how you find the caregiver, you want to verify your responsibilities to follow all federal and state regulations and understand your tax liabilities.

It is worthwhile to seek the advice of an elder law attorney and an accountant if you are hiring an independent contractor. That way, you can ensure you have a valid contract and have the information needed to move forward safely.




Family Caregiver Support

Join our Facebook Group

Prefer your logs, trackers, and checklists in a booklet form?

We’ve got you covered!

We have created some with you in mind!


Trackers, logs, and checklists are a great way to stay organized (and remember things :)

See our free downloads below!

  • Blood Pressure Log Tracker
  • Blood Sugar Log Simple
  • Blood Sugar Log Complex
  • Blood Sugar, HR, Wt, Blood Pressure Log
  • Emergency Contact Sheet
  • Medication Log Tracker
  • Medication Side Effect Tracker
  • Pain Management Tracker
  • Password Tracker Log

Don’t miss out on new information!

Keep informed by joining our Caregiver Feed newsletter!