what is this kind of domestic help professional called?
June 2, 2021 11:47 AM   Subscribe

my relative needs to hire someone who can do a few different kinds of tasks, and none of us have ever hired such a person before.

My relative is no longer bedridden, but much less physically capable than before the injury. He needs to hire someone who can come to his home... 1-2 times a week maybe? And do:

- cleaning (mostly light, as the house is generally under-used, but including a real clean of kitchen floor and counters; probably a sweep/swiffer of the rest of it, emptying trash baskets, maybe change bed linens, that kind of thing)

- grocery buying and other occasional errands

- ideally some batch cooking, not fancy, but like "cut up these veggies and roast them"; "turn this ground beef into edible burgers"

we want to pay someone fairly, and ideally have them come through an agency that does background checks and bonds their people. How do I find such a person? What would the agency be called and what would this person be called? I don't know how long this service would be needed.
posted by fingersandtoes to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I think this is just a home health aide.
posted by woodvine at 11:58 AM on June 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You could start with Care.com. You are probably looking for someone like a 'household assistant' or something of the like. And you can pay a little extra to have background checks run through them as well.
posted by greta simone at 11:58 AM on June 2, 2021 [7 favorites]

a relative recently hired someone to spend time with her tween in a not-strictly-babysitting kind of way, not really a tutor but not someone to just let him watch videos online etc. now that were all vaccinated we were over there and met her and it seems like this is also something she does when shes not with my tween relative (she was describing some of her other gigs and they fit in the mold youre looking for).

it sounded like she got a lot of her business, and in fact my family member found her through, care.com. we actually had a conversation about it and it seems that it is a decent if imperfect place to look for services like what you want, but it isnt, i dont think, set up to work with people via agencies. It is worth hopping on and taking a look - the impression i got is that you sort of need to find the right person for what youre looking for - in this case the carer is a nursing student with some extra curricular interest that align with the tweens, but youre going to need to sift through to find what youre looking for.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 12:01 PM on June 2, 2021

preview-fail, seconding greta simone's car.com suggestion
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 12:02 PM on June 2, 2021

Yup care.com is becoming the go-to website for this. My company gives a free subscription as part of our benefits.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:06 PM on June 2, 2021

Best answer: I used care.com to find a house cleaner recently, and hired my last cleaner thru them, so I'll nth that recommendation.

Even though there are separate searches for house cleaning and home care aides, you'll see the same profiles for each search -- ie, people looking for both cleaning and care / personal assistant jobs. Or their profile will describe having done similar work for a family (as a nanny, or a care aid) in the past. So regardless of what it's called, hire one of those people. Lots of overlap.
posted by Dashy at 12:21 PM on June 2, 2021

Here in Ontario (Canada) this would be something that a Personal Support Worker (PSW) would do.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:49 PM on June 2, 2021

You might ask about escalation of future-care? or future escalation of care. It will be nice for your relative if the same agency, even the same person, will be able to kick in later with personal /medical care as the needs arise. Good luck!
posted by BobTheScientist at 1:14 PM on June 2, 2021

Best answer: It's probably worth keeping in mind the possibility that two different people will best fill your needs here - one to come in the home and assist, one to prep/cook meals and deliver or have them picked up by the assistant. If you happen to live near any kind of university, check Craigslist for "personal chef" and "meal prep" - I see postings all the time from nutrition/dietician program students who have to do X hours of plan and prep (which I think is normally done out of school/hospital kitchens, I'm not sure what the situation is right now) for their certification. But also there are caterers, restaurants, and other people trying to stay afloat right now doing various meal services, and you might find a great home assistant who doesn't do food.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:38 PM on June 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I was a home health aide and informal child care provider in a previous life, and now work for an organization that assesses people for home health aide hours and assigns aides, among many other functions.

Given my experience in the home health world, I’d strongly encourage you to hire an individual through care.com rather than going through a formal home health agency. Home health agencies have very specific rules about what their aides can or cannot do, so hiring an individual will give you much more flexibility. Example; the agency I worked for allowed home health aides to run short errands, and I regularly did so for clients, but my current employer does not allow aides to do that. My current employer explicitly specifies that aides perform “light housekeeping,” which can include changing bed sheets, taking out trash and cleaning the counters after meal prep but probably wouldn’t include a deeper clean of the floors. Personally, I vividly remember one of my old clients who lived in a three story house overflowing with antiques, and had “light housekeeping” as his only assigned aide task. The amount of dusting, windexing, vacuuming, and scrubbing I did in that house was absolutely not light, and made me really appreciate the labor of people who do only cleaning as a living. Your asks for your relative sound reasonable, but plan for them to have pretty strict cleaning boundaries so as not to become That Guy.

The biggest issue I see with your wants, and why I like the two person approach Lyn Never suggests, is the cooking. I don’t remember if I got specific guidance around meal prep as an aide, but in practice I made a lot of instant oatmeal and reheated frozen things. My current employer explicitly does not allow cooking of the type you describe as part of the “meal prep” tasks aides are assigned. An aide can make sandwiches or eggs, reheat something frozen, make just-add-water kinds of things (box Mac and cheese, hot cereal), or maybe even put a few cans and condiments together for tuna salad or similar, but once you get into multiple raw ingredients or chopping and roasting that’s over their pay grade. You might get lucky and find a care.com person who’s up for both cooking and errand/cleaning types of tasks, but people advertising themselves as home health aides probably won’t come in with the expectation that “real” cooking is part of the job.
posted by I am a Sock, I am an Island at 7:05 PM on June 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

Re cooking, just wanted to suggest that unless your relative has special dietary needs, you and other local family members can do the opposite of batch cooking, if you want - make a little extra when you cook your own meals, set one plate aside and freeze it (if it’s amenable to freezing). At least meats, soups, stews, and casseroles can be addressed that way. Way cheaper and healthier than buying hot deli counter food, packaged frozen food, etc. and not as stressful as doing batch cooking explicitly for your relative + your household, gives them variety etc.

So that could be dinners and lunches, breakfasts more easily fall under “light meal prep” (oatmeal is easy, the PSWs we have will do scrambled eggs, etc).
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:39 PM on June 2, 2021

Talk to local schools and churches and see if they have a newsletter where you can advertise the job, or if they have anyone that is looking for some part-time work.

Make sure you have a WRITTEN list of duties that you expect to be completed and how frequently.
posted by Barbara Spitzer at 5:59 PM on June 3, 2021

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