The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Oklahomans in Action

February 29, 2008

Vetting prospective caregiver a safe move

Taking care of an aging parent or relative can be taxing, but finding a caregiver you can trust can be just as stressful.

“Overall, personal references are the best, but be sure to check the references,” said Tom Wade, director of Northern Oklahoma Development Authority.

Depending upon the level of or type of care provided, caregivers may be required to be licensed, bonded and insured, Wade said. Those requirements can be checked through related medical boards or the State Health Department.

Wade said companies that employ higher-skilled home caregivers should be able to provide references for their workers.

“They generally have references (for caregivers) to provide what level of care a doctor orders,” he said.

Wade, and his colleagues A.J. Shorter and Judy Rump, also advise using means available to the general public to research possible caregivers.

They advise using the Oklahoma State Court Network, www.oscn.net, and Oklahoma District Court Records Web page, www.odcr.com, to check for criminal backgrounds of potential caregivers. The Enid Police Department, for a $1 fee, can also check a name locally for arrests by Enid police.

“As an individual you are somewhat limited in background checks,” Wade noted.

For those searching for a caregiver for someone suffering from a certain condition, Wade suggests checking with local hospitals for contact information for support groups.

“Almost every condition has support groups through the local hospitals,” Wade said.

By working with the support groups, Wade said contacts can be made with others who have had to find help or may know of a particularly good caregiver.

Once a caregiver is hired, Wade, Rupp and Shorter said to ensure that the care recipient is being treated well.

“I think you really need to listen to what the care recipient says,” Rupp said.

She said some who are receiving care may be too afraid to express concerns or report abuse to family members for fear of being placed in a nursing home.

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