Health & Medical Cancer & Oncology

5 Steps to Hiring a Caregiver

Updated June 08, 2015.

Taking care of someone who is fighting end stage colon cancer – no matter how beloved – is no easy task. The physical and mental components of care giving can be exhausting. Although it sounds like a cliché, if you don't take care of yourself, you won't be able to care for your loved one.

Step 1: Letting Go of Guilt

One of the biggest impediments to hiring a caregiver is the factor of guilt. Perhaps you feel that you should be the one providing every aspect of care for your loved one.

However, if you are exhausted and physically and emotionally stressed, you may not be providing the best care.

Hopefully you will know when the care giving is too much for you. If you're not sure, watch out for these signs of caregiver burn out:
  • Exhaustion
  • Skipping appointments or engagements
  • Forgetting to eat and take care of yourself
  • Frequently catching colds
  • Losing interest in things you enjoy
  • Declining hygiene
  • Rapidly fluctuating emotions

Step 2: Creating a Job Description

Before you go in search of a qualified applicant, you need to decide what you are looking for in a caregiver. Start by making a short list of the roles and responsibilities that you foresee your hired caregiver assuming including:
  • Household chores, such as cleaning or laundry
  • Cooking and shopping for groceries
  • Feeding your loved one
  • Providing personal care such as bathing and toileting
  • Driving to medical appointments
  • Sitter to provide respite care

Depending on your identified needs, you may not even need a medical caregiver. Sometimes, just having a friend or family member come sit with your loved one can provide you respite time to get out of the house or take care of yourself.

However, if you desire a medical caregiver, you will also have to decide what level of training is acceptable. The majority of in-home caregivers are certified nursing assistants (CNAs) or home health aides (HHAs). It will be harder to find and more expensive if you choose to have a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or registered nurse (RN) provide continuous in-home care.

Step 3: Determining Your Venue

The two main options for hiring a caregiver are to do it yourself or to contact an agency. There are pros and cons to both choices, and the decision is ultimately yours. A few of the benefits of using an agency include the fact that the agency will:
  • Complete all pre-employment screening and background checks
  • Take care of payments and taxes
  • Have the latitude to send a replacement if your caregiver is ill
  • Verify the skills and education of your caregiver

Furthermore, some insurance companies will pay a percentage of in-home caregiving, but only if you go through an agency. The insurance company will not reimburse you if you hire someone on your own.

Step 4: Do Your Homework

If you choose to use a caregiver agency, make sure you thoroughly research the organization before you commit. You can research them on the Web or talk to the supervisor of the company. You can find out if they have any outstanding complaints, are accredited, and how they screen their applicants.

Step 5: Meeting Your Caregiver

Whether you use an agency or hire someone on your own, there are a few things you want to look for in your caregiver:
  • Always ask for references, then follow up on them. References from prior families or employers are an excellent indication of the care he or she can provide.
  • Depending on your loved ones needs, make sure the caregiver has the skills required to care for him or her. For instance, if your loved one needs lifting in and out of bed, your caregiver must be physically able to complete the task.
  • Watch the interaction between your loved one and the caregiver. This will help you get a feel of how good they can or will get along with each other.


AARP. (December 2011). Six Signs of Caregiver Burnout. Accessed December 23, 2012.

Family Caregiver Alliance. (n.d.). Hiring In-Home Help. Accessed December 23, 2012.

American Cancer Society. (n.d.). Concern for the Family and Caregivers. Accessed December 23, 2012.

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