What Working Caregivers Need Most: Backup Care

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<p><strong>Westport, Conn. &mdash; Dec. 26</strong><br />It&#39;s estimated that roughly 60 percent of Americans caring for older loved ones also work full-time jobs, making it imperative for most to find reliable backup care arrangements. Without backup care in place, many of these working caregivers would be unable to balance their professional and caregiving responsibilities. Here are the most common community-based options that working caregivers can explore:<br /><br />&bull;    Home health care agencies place supervised health care professionals (home health aides, certified nurses&#39; aides, respite caregivers, therapists, registered nurses, etc.) in your home to care for your loved one. Almost all agencies offer some type of backup care. Home health care agencies serve as the professional caregiver&#39;s employer, handling all tax and compensation matters. Terms and conditions for backup care are usually stipulated in the contract, so be sure to ask what the backup care policy is before signing. Most require you to preregister but, once you&#39;ve done so, they can usually supply backup care on short notice. Some agencies, however, may require 24- to 48-hour advance notice.<br /><br />&bull;    Employment/placement agencies offer placement services for adult care professionals but, unlike home health care agencies, these professionals are not typically supervised by registered nurses. In addition, employment agencies typically require you to become the caregiver&#39;s “employer” (meaning you&#39;re responsible for adhering to employment regulations including state and federal tax obligations). As a result, the agency may not be responsible if your provider becomes ill or unavailable and might not automatically provide a replacement. Some agencies may supply backup caregivers on an as-needed basis as long as you preregister and provide advance notice.<br /><br />&bull;    Adult day care centers are designed for adults who need daily supervision, usually because of cognitive impairment. Some also offer backup care. Most require individuals to be evaluated prior to admittance to ensure that the center can accommodate their needs. When investigating one of these facilities, ask if your loved one needs to be evaluated and/or preregistered, and ask how much advance notice is required. Some might accept individuals on an as-needed basis; others might require at least 24-hour advance notice. Adult day care centers typically have scheduled closings (on holidays, for example) or might close due to inclement weather. Therefore, investigate other backup care options in the event that these facilities are unavailable when you need them.<br /><br />&bull;    Community resources include community centers, senior centers, religious organizations, support groups, etc. Many of these are geared toward independent seniors and offer opportunities for socializing, rather than medically modeled care. However, some offer respite services (temporary care) such as volunteers coming into your home to care for your loved one on a temporary basis. Volunteers typically provide companionship and sitter services, rather than hands-on care. Therefore, if your loved one requires more supervision, this is probably not the best option.<br /><br />Policies and programs differ from one agency or organization to the next, so ask each specifically about their backup care offerings. </p>

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