Hiring a Caregiver
8 min read
Herewith’s guide to hiring an in-home caregiver
Our comprehensive resource for safely hiring private in-home care
Recognizing that a loved one needs help is a journey almost everyone will take. Even when you know it will likely happen, nothing can really prepare you for how to navigate this new chapter in your relationship.
Most families respond by doing what they can to keep a loved one safe and at home. Everyone pitches in to provide the care they have time for. But, at some point, you and your family might find yourself struggling to meet the growing care needs of your loved one and realize it is time for professional help
How to know when a loved one needs in-home care
There are two main ways that older adults typically demonstrate a need for care. The first is more gradual, with more signs showing up over time. In the second case, an injury or illness might initiate the need to begin care at home.
Your loved one may show a barely perceptible, gradual decline. Then over time, you begin to notice that your loved one is falling more often, not showering, losing weight, having trouble managing the household, or forgetting medications. A look in the refrigerator may reveal spoiling food or very little food. You may notice growing signs of cognitive decline, such as memory problems, confusion about paying bills, and missing doctor’s appointments.
In some cases, a traumatic event, such as a fall, a stroke, or heart attack upends what once was a stable situation. Recovery from major medical events is often complex with different stages of healing, and a return to previous levels of functioning isn’t always possible.
However your loved one’s care needs progress, at some point, caregiving duties and tasks become too much for family or friends. It might be time to look into the options for professional, in-home support: an agency or a private caregiver through an online company. Let’s look at the benefits of hiring your own caregiver and what you need to make the experience safe, affordable, and positive for everyone.
The benefits of hiring a private caregiver
Should you use an agency or hire privately? There are pros and cons to each option. If you haven’t used a home care agency before, you may not be familiar with their constraints, many of which can be eliminated when you hire privately. Here are some of the benefits of hiring a private caregiver through a platform, such as Herewith:
With an agency, you may have very little control, if any, over the caregiver you get. Hiring privately through Herewith’s platform, you get to choose who you want to interview and hire. With an agency, communication directly with the caregiver is discouraged. At Herewith, during and after hiring, you’re able to communicate safely and directly with your caregiver as often as you need, to get daily reports, update tasks, or relay critical care information.
Hiring privately through Herewith gives you the power to set your own care schedule, so you can do what works for your family and loved one. With 24/7 support from our team, you’re also supported when you need care at a moment’s notice, whether it’s working directly with your caregiver to adjust hours of coverage or getting support from our team for additional care.
Less Cost to You
The hourly median cost of in-home care for 2023 in California is $32.00 an hour. But pricing can vary depending on the agency and the number of hours you require. If you choose to hire through a traditional agency, you may find that the hourly rate can soar, padded with overhead and other costs built into care pricing, with the caregiver receiving a mere percent of what you’re being charged. Hiring your caregiver privately through Herewith allows your caregiver to earn their full pay while lowering the cost of care.
Higher Quality Caregivers
With better opportunities for pay and better matches with clients based on skills and location, Herewith is able to attract highly qualified caregivers with a range of skills for you to choose from. With mandatory free annual background checks, opportunities for free professional development, and a personalized matching service, we strive to empower caregivers on our platform to keep advancing their careers.
Mobile care coordination tools
Get the convenience and flexibility of a private caregiver, plus essential tools and customer support to take the stress out of hiring. The Herewith mobile app offers robust care coordination tools not available through care agencies and simplifies managing your caregiver’s employment: communicate in emergencies, track live shifts, approve payroll, assign tasks, and share information with family members by adding them to your team.
How to protect yourself when hiring care
Hiring a caregiver does come with responsibility and risk, but there are easy ways to protect yourself. Most importantly, seek a platform or agency that provides workers’ compensation and liability insurance, so your financial assets are protected.
If you hire through a job board or under the table without insurance or the protection of a platform or agency, you’re financially liable for accidents or injuries that occur in your home, putting your finances or even your home at risk.
Herewith offers protection for household employers on our platform with an exclusive offer of workers’ compensation insurance, included for no additional charge in your cost of care. In addition, we also provide caregivers with free access to professional liability insurance of up to $1 million.
Why is workers’ compensation insurance essential?
Many people don't realize that homeowner's insurance does not protect your assets if someone working in your home gets hurt. Most states, including California, require household employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance for household employees, such as in-home caregivers for seniors. This insurance will reimburse an employee injured on the job for qualifying medical expenses and lost wages.
If you hire without a workers’ compensation insurance policy, you or your loved one may be personally liable for an injured employee’s medical expenses and lost wages. These costs could be high.
We’re excited to offer families hiring care on the Herewith platform workers’ compensation insurance, at no additional cost, for a safer hiring experience and peace of mind. For more details on our workers’ compensation policy, read our Insurance & Finances FAQs for families.
Hire safely, as a household employer
To further protect yourself when searching for private in-home care, make sure you hire the right way, as a household employer. A household employer hires a caregiver or another individual to perform duties and provide services within their private home and pays the household employee more than $2,600 cash wages. Herewith will assist you throughout the hiring process to ensure that your paperwork is all in order and you won’t have any unpleasant surprises come tax season.
Becoming a household employer may seem overwhelming at first and will require a little paperwork, but our Herewith team will guide you through a few quick steps, and you’ll be ready to go.
What to expect as a household employer
As a household employer, you’re obligated to issue a W-2 for your employee and file payroll taxes. Attempting to avoid employer payroll taxes by hiring your employee as an independent contractor with a 1099 is risky. In the case that your caregiver does not pay their federal and state taxes, you could be financially liable. That’s why becoming a household employer is preferable and safer.
Herewith partners with HomeWork Solutions to provide payroll and tax management services, free of cost, to both families receiving care and to caregivers, so you don’t have to worry about surprise tax bills or issues with payroll. When you hire your first Caregiver via the Herewith platform, just follow the prompts as our Care Experts walk you through the necessary forms to set up payroll, and tax information.
Why a W-2 protects your loved one’s assets
Because you’re hiring as a household employer, your caregiver is considered your household employee by the IRS and needs to receive a W-2 (the form employers use to report employee wage and salary information).
If you don’t issue a W2, you expose yourself and your loved one’s estate to lawsuits. A W-2 ensures an accurate reporting of wages for a caregiver, which means they can’t come back and sue you for withholding wages or not paying overtime if required. If your caregiver employee does not pay taxes based on those earnings, the responsibility is theirs alone.
The W-2 form also reports important details about the federal, state, and other taxes withheld from a caregiver’s paycheck. For your caregiver, the information on their W-2 is essential when preparing their annual tax return.
Stress-free, automatic payroll & tax support
At Herewith, we walk you through every step of becoming a household employer and partner with HomeWork Solutions to provide free payroll tax services, while automatic time-tracking and payroll helps eliminate weekly stress of managing an employee. Here’s how it works:
You are your caregiver’s employer, but we help you run payroll with our partner, HomeWork Solutions. When you hire your first caregiver, you’ll follow prompts to set up the account you’d like HomeWorks Solutions to use to pay your caregiver, the Herewith service fee, and any state & federal taxes that may apply. HomeWork Solutions will also help manage any necessary employer payroll tax withholdings.
Payroll runs on a weekly basis. Your caregiver clocks in and out with their app and submits their hours for your approval each week. You will then approve hours for payroll by following the prompts within the app. You can also track your caregivers hours as they are happening live and approve them for payroll at any time during the week by going to the “Manage Caregiver” screen.
To approve & submit your weekly payroll: Go to the “Team” view. Here, you’ll see notifications for any hours worked that are available to submit. You can submit hours for payroll processing at any period throughout the week. Hours that have not been submitted by Sunday will be automatically processed by our payroll partners, HomeWork Solutions. Your caregiver will receive their paycheck via direct deposit the following Friday.
Our journeys to find care may all be different, but we all want the best, safest care for our loved ones. Becoming a household employer, with our support and guidance, will empower you to choose the caregiver you want and be in control of communication, scheduling, and care duties.
We know that finding the right care for your loved one can all seem overwhelming and hard to navigate. But we are here for you every step of the way, with live agents ready to answer the phone at any time, day or night.
Have a question about in-home care or our employer protections?
Give us a call at 415-506-9776, or read more on hiring an in-home caregiver.
Join us today!