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Private Caregiver vs. Home Care Companies

Ask the Experts by Carolyn Van Dorn

Q: I am considering hiring a caregiver to help with our special needs child. What is the difference between hiring a private caregiver and using a home care company? 

A: When utilizing the services of a private caregiver, you may pay less per hour and not have to agree to a minimum number of hours per day or week. You will have to perform applicant searches, be responsible for paying payroll taxes, carry personal liability, worker's compensation and unemployment insurance.

Your homeowner's insurance company may require you to register the domestic worker that is on site. Private care givers do not typically have anyone to fill in for them if they are ill or need time off work. You also become the human resource manager, responsible for all aspects of job performance and problems.

You might think of just paying someone direct and not paying employment taxes to save money. This all sounds great until they are injured while working for you.

Yes, you are responsible for their injury which may include health care costs and loss of work payments. Should you choose to fire a private caregiver and they seek unemployment benefits with the State of Michigan, you could be liable for that as well as back payroll taxes.

You may pay a little more initially when using a home care company, but it will eliminate most of the problems described above.

A home care company knows the type of people to recruit, the level of training and how much to pay the employee. With a staff of caregivers available, you should never have to worry if your regular caregiver needs time off or calls in sick. The company will complete thorough background checks, drug testing, be responsible for paying all payroll taxes and insurance premiums, including liability, worker's compensation, unemployment insurance and bond its employees.  They are responsible for all aspects of supervising and monitoring performance, maintain the training of employees and keep in contact with the family to make sure quality care and services is always achieved. 

Allowing anyone into your home to care for a loved one is an important decision. Educate yourself to all the options available so you can make the choice that best suits you and your family. 

Carolyn Van Dorn is the Human Resources Manager at Nursing Unlimited in Grosse Pointe. She has worked in the medical field since 1984 with a goal of educating families and caregivers about the services available to help them maintain a balanced home while caring for a loved one in need. Contact Carolyn at 313.642.1122, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit Nursing Unlimited is a member of The Family Center's Association of Professionals

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