It’s not always easy to trust another person to look after a loved one. Elder and child abuse is far too common, and choosing a caregiver can seem a little overwhelming. There are steps you can take to evaluate caregivers, such as babysitters or nursing homes, to reduce the risk of something happening to your loved one.
There are many situations in which you might want to leave a loved one in the care of an individual person such as a nanny, tutor, or senior in-home caregiver. Consider the following tips to choose someone who will care for your loved one safely.
- Contact multiple references that can vouch for the caregiver. Ask questions about their character, past performance, and interactions with their charges as well as other peers or colleagues.
- Are they willing to submit to a background check? If they say no, it’s worth reconsidering their services. Due to the low rates of reporting and prosecution of sexual violence, background checks are not 100 percent effective, but they can be a valuable tool in screening caregivers.
- Run a search on the National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW), a national resource that pulls data from state, territory, and tribal sex offender registries. You can search by name and region. You can perform your own cursory background check by researching public records–including legal records–and anything the person might have posted publicly online and via social media.
- Drop in unexpectedly. Visit your loved one from time to time without announcing your visit in advanced. This will give you a realistic sense for the standard of care the caregiver is providing.
- Be aware of the signs of elder abuse and child abuse.
Centers, agencies, and organizations
You might be considering a daycare center, an assisted living center, or a similar organization to provide care for your loved one. Take into consideration the following tips when determining who may provide the best care.
- Is the service provider licensed in the local jurisdiction? Most cities, counties, and/or states have regulations regarding qualifications for service providers that care for children or the elderly. Check with your local city or county to find a list of all certified care providers and ensure the service provider you are considering is on that list.
- What vetting and training is involved in the staff hiring process? Depending on the organization and type of service offered, employees may have to earn a certain degree, uphold certain certifications, or undergo training. Ask about these requirements and compare them across different organizations and against any county or state regulations that may apply. Ask about ongoing training for staff. What training is involved for noticing and responding to signs of abuse? How often is this information tested or reviewed?
- What is the management system like? How does the organization oversee staff and monitor its employees? Find out more about how caregivers are monitored or evaluated. How often does this happen? What is the policy for poor performance or failure to follow rules? Ask about turnover rates for caregivers. A high turnover rate could indicate signs of poor management and make for a less stable environment. Ask about the caregiver-to-charge ratio, or how many people the caregiver will be supervising. Does it seem like the caregiver will be able to provide adequate attention to your loved one?
- What is your general impression of the facilities? Are the facilities well-kept and clean? Are proper safety measures in place such as windows on classroom doors? Is there a security process in place to ensure only approved staff have contact with children/adults and all children/adults are accounted for at all times?
To speak with someone who is trained to help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or chat online at online.rainn.org.