Black market homecare workers

By Jonathan Acton - jonathan.acton@homeinstead.ie

In the midlands, there is a sizable black market when it comes to caregiving. That black market means that people are providing caregiving services in an unofficial and unauthorised manner. Many older people in the community have black market caregivers, while not fully understanding the risks involved.

When a paid caregiver walks into the home of an older person, the caregiver is an employee. This bodes the question: who does the caregiver work for? If you pay a home care provider for the services of a caregiver, and the caregiver receives his or her paycheck from the home care provider, then the caregiver is an employee of the provider.

In this situation you are not subject to employer obligations such as insurance cover, health and safety regulations and tax requirements.

On the other hand, if you pay the caregiver directly, the caregiver is deemed to be your employee.

Many people mistakenly assume the caregiver is an independent contractor. A caregiver, whether a neighbour or friend, is someone who follows your instructions and requirements when it comes to care. He or she comes to your home and uses your food when it comes to meal preparation or cleaning products when it comes to light housekeeping.

That means the person is an employee, even if the personal relationship suggests otherwise, and you are an employer with obligations and expectations to pay taxes.

A key reason families avail of home care services from a professional home care provider is dealing with responsibilities such as tax liabilities as well as other risks.

Professional home care ensure caregivers are bonded and insured, as well as garda checked and cleared.

That means that the caregiver is vetted before entering the home of a vulnerable person, and their actions are covered by insurance. For example, if a caregiver falls and is injured in the home, there is insurance in place.

In the case of when the individual acts as employer, he or she bears all of the risk, whether it is an injury, damages or theft.

If a black market caregiver injures him or herself, the older person can be held responsible for medical costs. Many families incorrectly believe their house insurance will cover such costs, but those policies usually exclude situations resulting from a paid caregiver working in your home.

This is an extreme example, but the day-to-day risks of employing a black market caregiver prove to make life more complicated instead of easier. For example, when hiring your own employee instead of working with a home care provider like Home Instead Senior Care, there is no back-up in the instance of a sick day or holidays.

The older person is often left in the lurch, whereas the home care provider will take responsibility to secure a replacement.

Families also appreciate the ability of a home care provider to not only train, but to hire and fire caregivers. This spares the family an uncomfortable situation if the caregiver is not the right match for the family.

The majority of families in the midlands are looking for the best way to support older loved ones and it is important to consider what kind of caregiver you are willing to bring into the home.

Are you willing to become an employer or take on the risks of hiring a black market caregiver? Or would you like the peace of mind of working with a professional home care provider?

In order to administer competent and effective home care, at the very least, all caregivers should be fully insured, attend to garda vetting, receive training and supervision to effectively alleviate the stress and worry for older people and their families.

For more information on professional caregiving visit HomeInstead.ie or call 044 9385260.

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