Caregivers as a whole are loving and generous people who feel called to serve the elderly population.
Unfortunately, seniors are at an increased risk for fraud and theft. Of course, you would only hire someone you like and trust.
However, setting up your loved one’s home correctly helps protect your loved one and his caregiver.
It is not uncommon for people with dementia to misplace items or forget conversations and gestures of kindness. This also makes them easy to exploit.
The bad news is that caregiver theft is real.
The good news? There are proactive steps you can take to protect your elderly loved ones against caregiver theft.
In this post, we will go over 5 safeguards that will help in preventing caregiver theft.
1. Protect Your Financial Information and Interests
When working with a caregiver, make sure that payment, hours, and job responsibilities are clear and agreed upon at the beginning of the caregiver-client relationship. This ensures that there is no confusion about when and how a caregiver is paid.
It will also eliminate grey areas that might lead to feelings of unmet expectations. Good communication and expectation setting goes a long way in preventing caregiver theft.
Alternatively, if you work with a caregiver through a home care agency like Green Tree Home Care, the agency assumes the employer relationship. The agency pays the caregiver and provides a framework for job roles and responsibilities.
A second precaution here is to never share access to bank accounts or security questions – no matter how much trust you may have built with the caregiver. Bank account usernames and passwords written on notes and checkbooks lying around the house are also a big no.
Thankfully, bill pay products that allow bills to be paid automatically each month are easily available through the bank. Setting up bill pay for your loved one through their bank (or yours if you are the one paying) will ensure that utilities and services keep running while financial information is protected.
If you are unable to personally handle finances for your elderly loved one and they are currently mentally incapable of doing so, in the state of California, you can hire a professional, licensed fiduciary to handle that.
Keep Housing Interests Separate
It is important to not roll housing into the compensation plan of a caregiver. This blurs compensation lines and creates legal issues should the caregiver-client relationship go sour.
In California, the law heavily protects renters. This means that in a situation where the relationship has gone bad, you may have to go through a costly and long eviction process. If housing is offered at all, there should be a clear agreement or contract that is signed by both parties as to what that entails. There should also be a second contract that outlines the caregiver agreement.
The bottom line here is to ensure that financial lines not be blurred during the relationship with a caregiver.
2. Do Not Keep Precious Items or Cash on Hand
If you currently live apart from your elderly loved one, it is advisable to inventory all precious/expensive items and check them into a bank safety deposit box.
Large amounts of cash should also be kept away or deposited at the bank. If your loved one prefers cash, it is important to keep a ledger and track outgoing cash regularly.
Alternatively, you can use an in-home safe to store some expensive items and cash.
3. Consider Installing Cameras
Installing in-home surveillance cameras can help deter theft. Cameras also help when following up on concerns and missing items.
4. Practice a “No Guests” Rule
Insist on a no guest rule at the beginning of your caregiver-client relationship.
Friends and family of the caregiver who are not a part of the caregiver-client relationship should not come into the home under any circumstance. You trust the caregivers you work with, but limiting the amount of traffic is important in preventing caregiver theft.
Another safeguard you can employ is to have caregivers log visitors who come into the home. Information should include guests’ name, the time they came in, and the time they left. You may also want to record the reason for the visit if it isn’t too intrusive for your loved one.
5. Have Oversight from an Agency
The beauty of working with a home care agency is the added oversight the agency provides over their caregiver employees.
You also have the opportunity to discuss any safety concerns you may have with the home care agency. At Green Tree Home Care for instance, you can reach somebody on the phone 24/7 if you have any concerns.
Occasional visits by a caregiver supervisor is also helpful to ensure that concerns are addressed, and caregivers are changed if need be.
This post is not meant to undermine the great work many caregivers do across the country for their clients. In fact a peek into our testimonials will show that most caregivers have the best interest of the client at heart.
Unfortunately, a few bad nuts have made it such that precautions have to be taken to prevent caregiver theft.
In this post, we provided five best practices to reaching this goal while maintaining a healthy caregiver-client relationship.
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