Hiring and screening practices of agencies supplying paid caregivers to older adults

Lee A. Lindquist*, Kenzie A. Cameron, Joanne Messerges-Bernstein, Elisha Friesema, Lisa Zickuhr, David W. Baker, Michael Wolf

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objectives To assess what screening practices agencies use in hiring caregivers and how caregiver competency is measured before assigning responsibilities in caring for older adults. Design One-to-one phone interviews in which interviewers posed as prospective clients seeking a caregiver for an older adult relative. Setting Cross-sectional cohort of agencies supplying paid caregivers to older adults in Illinois, California, Florida, Colorado, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Indiana. Participants Four hundred sixty-two home care agencies were contacted, of which 84 were no longer in service, 165 offered only nursing care, and 33 were excluded; 180 agencies completed interviews. Measurements Agencies were surveyed about their hiring methods, screening measures, training practices, skill competencies assessments, and supervision. Two coders qualitatively analyzed open-ended responses. Results To recruit caregivers, agencies primarily used print and Internet (e.g.,) advertising (n = 69, 39.2%) and word-of-mouth referrals (n = 49, 27.8%). In hiring, agencies required prior "life experiences" (n = 121, 68.8%) few of which (n = 33, 27.2%) were specific to caregiving. Screening measures included federal criminal background checks (n = 96, 55.8%) and drug testing (n = 56, 31.8%). Agencies stated that the paid caregiver could perform skills, such as medication reminding (n = 169, 96.0%). Skill competency was assessed according to caregiver self-report (n = 103, 58.5%), testing (n = 62, 35.2%), and client feedback (n = 62, 35.2%). General caregiver training length ranged from 0 to 7 days. Supervision ranged from none to weekly and included home visits, telephone calls, and caregivers visiting the central office. Conclusion Using an agency to hire paid caregivers may give older adults and their families a false sense of security regarding the background and skill set of the caregiver.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1253-1259
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2012


  • caregivers
  • home care agencies
  • older adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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