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Resources for Background-Checking a Caregiver

Brenda Abrahams by Brenda Abrahams | Licensed since 2008
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This article was updated on: 08/31/2017

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Have you been reluctant to hire a caregiver to help care for an aging relative because of concerns about letting a stranger into your loved one’s home? You might have heard horror stories about caregivers who stole from or abused elderly clients. The good news is that you may well be able to find reliable, trustworthy, and committed caregivers. In order to hire the right person, you need to learn how to perform a caregiver background check, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance. Screening caregivers may help give you peace of mind.

Tips on performing a caregiver background check

You might decide to hire a caregiver yourself or use an agency to provide services. If you decide to hire someone on your own, you can take steps to do your own caregiver background check, as suggested in these screening tips from the Family Caregiver Alliance:

  • Ask for contact information from a handful of former employers to use as references.
  • Schedule a face-to-face meeting with the applicant, yourself, and (if possible) the person who needs care.
  • Ask the applicant to show you an official photo ID and write down information necessary for a background check, such as current address and previous addresses from the last few years.
  • Ask for signed waivers that allow you to conduct background checks. Some jurisdictions may not allow you to conduct certain types of background checks without permission or may otherwise restrict what kind of background check you can run.
  • You can do an online background check yourself by entering the person’s name into a search engine, but you might also consider hiring an agency that specializes in background checks to do it for you.

Home health-care agencies should screen employees they hire as caregivers to send to people’s homes. Still, the Department of Health & Human Services advises people to do some further background checking on any health-care agency they might consider:

  • Ask the agency for caregiver references.
  • Find out how long the agency has been serving your local area, and learn about any licensing that they have obtained.
  • Learn how the agency hires, trains, supervises, and screens their employees.
  • Learn how the company handles times when the primary caregiver can’t make it to work and how they resolve other unusual problems.
  • Find out if the agency is a Medicare-approved home health-care provider. You can call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048; you can call 24 hours a day, seven days a week) or use the Eldercare Locator from the Department of Health & Human Services.
  • Make sure the agency will work with you and your loved one’s medical providers to develop and update a plan of care.

Does Medicare cover home health care?

Besides doing a complete background check on caregivers, you might also want to find out how your loved one’s Medicare benefits could help pay for these services. Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) covers limited home health-care services in some situations, although generally this coverage is part-time and temporary.

There may be other Medicare plan options beyond Original Medicare that might fit your needs, although in general they don’t cover long-term home health-care services. If you’d like help exploring Medicare health plans, you can:

  • Use the “Find Plans” button to start your own online research on Medicare plan options in your city.
  • Dial 1-844-847-2660 (TTY: 711) Monday through Friday between 8AM and 8PM EST to talk to me or another licensed insurance agent.
  • Click one of the links below to set up a phone call with us or have us email customized Medicare health plan information.

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