Finding a Caregiver 101: Registry vs. Agency
By Sharon Lurtsema September 25, 2017
You need to find a caregiver. This should be easy – right? Let’s start with an important decision. Registry or Agency? Don’t know the difference between the two? That’s OK you are not alone. Odds are this hasn’t exactly come up in a conversation. However, if you’re in the market for a caregiver of any type, knowing the difference is significantly important.
What is a Caregiver Registry and how does it work?
When it comes to shopping for a caregiver online, just like everything in life, there are pros and cons. Although “shopping” may appear to be the wrong verb, it’s actually quite accurate. Much like online dating sites, a caregiver registry is designed to host 1000’s of profiles of potential caregivers in your zip code, city or state. Caregiver profiles reveal an extensive array of expertise, skills and qualifications. Caregivers boast about their impressive skillsets which range from pet-sitting because they once had a dog, to seasoned career nannies with years of experience. Profiles also include adult caregivers staking claim to their experience because they have a grandparent, to housekeepers with extensive hotel backgrounds. Regardless of their impressive list of references and skills, it’s vital that you do not judge this “look” by its cover. Dating websites are notorious for outdated photos, false career facts and insignificant others that are very much still significant. Much the same, caregiver registries can follow suit and contain more fiction than fact. Everyone wants to appear to be something more amazing and fabulous than they often times are and the worldwide web is the easiest place to do just that.
vet, present participle: vetting; verb
1. making a careful and critical examination of (something)
Vetting is the most important part of the process. Prepare to unveil your secret decoder ring and dust off your detective hat. If you don’t have a job, you just got one, because finding a caregiver through this process is much like online dating and you might just get lost in the weeds. Let me be fair and start with the pros. The fees to search a registry for a caregiver are usually very reasonable, the websites are nicely designed, easy to use and you’re provided with some sort of resume information. Is the price just too reasonable?
You’ve narrowed down your search to a handful of profiles of which you believe could be a match. Now you have to contact them, get a feel for them over the phone and then arrange a meeting. Hopefully their response is prompt and they can meet you for an interview at a time that works for you. You’ve viewed their photo on line, it will be a gamble as to whether or not that’s really what they look like in person. Ok so far so good, they arrive to your meeting on time, they resemble their picture but you’re unsure as to whether or not they’ll make the final cut. This dance goes on for a while as you continue to find candidates you are interested in. You’ve met “the one” or maybe two in a public meeting place, it’s now probably a good idea to meet with them in your home and introduce them to the other members of your family. After much deliberation, the family vote is in and you decide to proceed. Not so fast … put those hiring plans on hold you still have more work to do. Bright and shiny registry profiles are rarely vetted prior to being published. That part is up to YOU!
Prepare to double and triple check everything, speak to all of their references (personal and business), ask pointed and pertinent questions, make sure their employment timeline matches up and verify their driver’s license. If driving is a requirement, are you comfortable with their vehicle? Verify car insurance, confirm they have a valid social security number, current CPR certification and don’t forget drug and TB testing. If education is a necessary part of your hiring process, verify diplomas and/or certifications. Last, but not at all least, conduct a complete background check including criminal, civil and department of motor vehicle. If things don’t add up, they most likely won’t – Move on!
Whew! That only took a few weeks or months. Truth be told, I’m not the biggest fan of caregiver registries, but I know with work, great caregivers can be found. It’s not a myth, online dream dates and caregivers really do exist. They just take work. If you want to save money and have the time, energy and resources to do the research this can be a great option.
What is an Agency?
To a caregiver, an agency is the safest and most trusted place to find employment. To a family, it can be your most valued resource. Agencies exist all over the world and they can provide everything from a nanny to a pet-sitter. Whether your needs are for your children, elderly loved ones or furry family members, agencies are here to help. The sole focus of an agency is much like that of a matchmaker. In my opinion, the best agencies meet all parties in person. If you’re going to be matching people you should know the people.
Many families rely on the services of an agency to do the vetting for them. As you know, the vetting process of a qualified caregiver can take weeks and sometimes months. Most families and working professionals don’t have this kind of time. They want to meet thoroughly screened and qualified candidates and leave the reference and background checking to the experts. Agencies worth their weight should not need to burden their clients with countless interviews. They should be laser focused on their needs and just a few interviews should bring success. All potential candidates should have their references and background check completed prior to the interview phase. This way when a client meets the right one, there are no last minute surprises and hiring can be executed immediately. Doesn’t it make sense to know the person you’re interviewing is good to go before you meet them, rather than crossing your fingers and hoping so afterward?
Whether its agency or a registry, caregiver salaries for qualified candidates doing the same job should not vary significantly. If their expected salary seems too good to be true, take a second look because it probably is. Yes, agencies are more expensive because a placement or referral fee is standard when hiring a thoroughly screened caregiver. However, isn’t it worth complete peace of mind when it comes to your loved ones and your home? The best part of utilizing an agency is all the work is done for you. Your job is simply to determine whether or not “it clicks.” Regardless of how you meet a caregiver, trust your internal instinct and you will know when it’s the right person for your family.
By: Sharon Lurtsema