Hiring a reliable friend
January 29, 2014 6:56 PM   Subscribe

Let's say at some point in the future I need a doctor-mandated live-in caretaker - someone to drive me to and from appointments, keep an eye on me, and help me with keeping myself fed and keeping my house and life in order while I fight an illness or recover from major surgery. Normally this would be a friend or family member. What would I call someone whom I hire to do this?

This is fairly hypothetical at this point, but I'll spell out potential situations. If I have no friends or family in the area, and I need someone to drive me to and from a surgery, look after me for the required period afterward, and help me with household chores and feeding myself, who do I look for?

I don't need someone with a nursing degree, nor a high-class private chef, nor a chauffeur with a suit and a luxury car; and much more general-purpose. The closest thing I can think of is a valet ala Jeeves, but without the century-old, upper class, "gentleman's gentleman," "yes sir," "of course sir" implications.

Rather than taking care of me, they'd be watching out for me. Instead of cooking my meals, they'd be sharing meals with me. The amount of time I'd need them would vary from 6 hours to 6 weeks, depending on the procedure.
posted by WasabiFlux to Work & Money (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Companion caregiver?
posted by donajo at 6:59 PM on January 29, 2014 [3 favorites]

Home attendant?
posted by griphus at 7:12 PM on January 29, 2014

Best answer: Home Health Aide.
posted by Rob Rockets at 7:14 PM on January 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) perhaps? These certifications are usually undertaken at two-year colleges, so maybe if you contacted a community college near you, you might find a student or alumni who might be looking for work. Or someone working as a Home Health Care Aide. There are typically Home Health Care agencies that employ workers for this kind of thing on a contractual basis.

Anecdotal, but my aunt is a CNA and apart from her day job in a nursing home, she looks after her close friend's very elderly, but sharp and alert for her age, mother. They watch TV together, the woman in question makes all her own meals (and usually asks my aunt to come hungry), and, really, my aunt seems only to be there to make sure she doesn't get into any trouble whilst nodding off at frequent intervals. She has also cared for seniors who require a lot more care.

All of the suggestions above are apt, in my limited knowledge/experience. I think it is most important to shop around and find someone you click with/are comfortable with. It seems like most people who work in any kind of care-giving variety have a range of responsibilities in their various assignments and the six hours or six weeks you spend with one another doesn't necessarily have to be clinical if you don't want it to be or need it to be.
posted by sevenofspades at 7:33 PM on January 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Back in the '90s when I did this kind of work (for a gentleman with muscular dystrophy), I was known as a Personal Care Assistant (PCA). Before that I was a Certified Nurses Assistant (CNA), a job which required training and certification. That training was helpful in getting PCA jobs, but wasn't required, which may explain the difference in terminology.
posted by Banky_Edwards at 7:39 PM on January 29, 2014

Personal Support Worker.
posted by windykites at 7:42 PM on January 29, 2014

Best answer: Personal care attendant, home health aide or provider.
posted by Aranquis at 7:47 PM on January 29, 2014

You might not find these all in one person.

Sometimes care is chopped up into two sets of activities. Activities of daily life (ADL) include bathing, toileting, dressing, the physical act of putting food in one's mouth, getting out of bed. This is personal care. If you can't do two or more of these, you're typically disabled and you might (if you're lucky) get hooked up by a social worker at the hospital to have this taken care of.

This personal care worker can be referred to as an attendant if he or she must accompany you into buildings to assist you with tasks.

Activities such as preparing meals, cleaning, running errands, etc are community based activities and they fall under a different umbrella. At this point you could now use conventional services for anybody in the community to get around. That person that drives you to and from appointments could be called a taxi driver. Home health agencies that provide personal care assistants typically also provide this service.

Depending on your level of fitness you don't need one aide to do everything. You could make do with personal care to do full bath twice a week, grocery delivery supplemented with take out, a cleaning service, handicap public transit + taxi, and home aide to run errands, do dishes and laundry, and take you on the town a couple of times a week. In some ways this approach is better as you might want to retain cleaners, etc long after you don't need help with ADL. Plus many of the ladies that do personal care don't drive.
posted by crazycanuck at 8:07 PM on January 29, 2014

Oh and doctors wouldn't mandate a live in caregiver. If you were so bad off you needed 24x7 care you should be offered a spot in rehab hospital as an alternative. You must be discharged to a safe environment.
posted by crazycanuck at 8:11 PM on January 29, 2014

Google post surgery home care. Often you'll find agencies that offer home health care for seniors do the same for those who've had surgery.
posted by cecic at 8:11 PM on January 29, 2014

For my sister in Massachusetts these were called Personal Care Attendants, or PCAs for short.
posted by alms at 8:36 PM on January 29, 2014

My dad has people who do this for him regularly, and they are called Home Health Aides. There are entire companies who provide these sorts of services with people who are trained in basic care.
posted by bedhead at 7:40 AM on January 30, 2014

Best answer: My neighbor is a PCA and this is exactly what she does. She has a CNA. She goes grocery shopping for her clients, cooks their meals, cleans their house, does their dishes, drives them to doctor's appointments, helps them to get dressed and generally stay on top of their lives. She gets paid $15/hr, covered by the state since her clients are on disability.
posted by KathrynT at 8:30 AM on January 30, 2014

Best answer: Depending on where you are, Home Instead is a company you can call to set up such care.
posted by freezer cake at 5:23 PM on January 30, 2014

Best answer: I am disabled and have relied on this kind of care some in the past. If you need medication administration and other specialized kinds of tasks, you'll need somebody with actual credentials appropriate to the tasks. They're generally found through an agency and paid for by insurance (according to the ACA, they now must be). If you just need help around the house, rides to appointments, light housekeeping, etc (these are called "activities of daily living"), the person is called a caregiver, home care worker or personal aide -- and generally doesn't have any special credentials, just hopefully a personality fit. They're not usually covered by insurance. Almost never. I've retained the best such people through my state's caregiver match system, craigslist (by posting a gigs ad) or through word of mouth. There are a lot of people we screened out, who were scary.

I wouldn't say that rehab hospitals are always covered when you're recovering from surgery, by the way -- my doctors have vainly recommended them and I wound up having my hospital stay stretched and then still coming home before my time. I'm lucky my husband has a flexible job and we had the cash in reserves to hire health care workers.

Disabled people on medicaid get personal care hours, I know. If that's your situation, you should check into it.
posted by sweltering at 1:50 AM on January 31, 2014

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