September 15, 2009
When we need to find a caregiver I usually place an ad in our local (county) paper. The ad would read something like this:
"Charming young woman with disabilities seeks caregiver/companion. Upbeat, reliable individual will enjoy working in easy going family setting. Mon - Fri., 3 to 10:30pm. Personal care and lifting required. $/hr. Call xxx-xxx-xxxx."
That size ad will cost about $35.00 per day to run. I've explored advertising in papers other than our local one and ran up against exorbitant classified fees. It seems that you need to buy a "package" which includes a 30 day online listing. I don't want an online listing. I find that people looking for this type of position are either not very computer literate or do not own a computer. And, if people do use the online listings, I don't want to be answering the phone for 30 days. I called one paper to request "just a little print ad for one Sunday" and was told that they don't do that. If I want to buy the package, it's $300 - $400, depending on the paper.
I've checked out websites for caregivers such as http://www.rewardingwork.com/ and http://www.care.com/ but they don't have many or any listings from our area and require subscriptions which would seem to be a waste of money for us since they do not tend to serve our area.
I also make up contact cards with information on the position. George, Lauren, and I hand out cards wherever we go - hairdressers, doctor's office, friends, etc. On the contact card I list a website that I started for Lauren called "All About Lauren". It is a very basic, not very well designed, but very informative few pages on who Lauren is, what her life is like, and what her caregiving needs are. It includes pictures and available job listings. Google hosts the site for free and it helps someone who may be interested to get a better picture of what the job would entail. We did have one applicant from this approach this time but she was not appropriate for the position.
Another option are job websites run by various ethnic groups. One example is a Polish website, http://www.bazrynka.com/ This particular site is used mainly by people in New York City and areas near the city in New Jersey. There are ads from all over, though. I have talked to some truly lovely people whenever I've placed an ad (free) but ...well, my last experience kind of sums up how well this site can meet our needs in the remote area of New Jersey that we live...
After a very frustrating day of phone interviews and in-person interviews that turned up no viable candidates, I decided to try Bazrynka once again. I had placed an ad a few weeks before and gotten no responses at all, but what the heck, I'll try it again. Couldn't hurt right? Keep reading. Now, remember we live in Northwestern New Jersey. There is no mass transit to speak of, a few infrequent buses in and out of the city in a couple parts of the county. Nothing closer than a twenty minute drive. I, very carefully, noted in the ad where we lived, that there was no mass transit, what the hours were for the position and that applicants must be legal and speak English well. Before nine o'clock the next morning the phone started ringing, and ringing, and ringing. By the end of the day I had over twenty responses. Unfortunately, none seemed to have read anything in the ad besides "caregiver". So...I spent the whole day telling some very nice people that, "No, having a passport does not mean that you are legal to work", "No, you cannot get a bus from Queens, Jersey City, Watchung, etc." and "No, this a Monday through Friday position - not a weekend position."
All of our hires since we started Real Life Choices have found us through the ads in our local paper except for this most recent one. We found Cori through her Mom, a respite worker for us for many years. When you hire anyone to work for you, they bring not only their talents and experience but also their personal issues and baggage. When you hire someone you don't know, you have no idea how their personal life may or may not affect their ability to effectively perform their job. That's true no matter what you're hiring someone to do. When you hire someone you know (we've known Cori for about 15 years), there are fewer chances for unpleasant surprises. You have a much better idea of what you are getting into. On the flip side, one of our other caregivers, Nancy, who we did not know before we hired her,has an adult daughter with physical disabilities. Because of this Nancy brings personal experience, understanding, and "accessibility" to her position in a way we had never experienced. Lauren can visit both of their homes because they are accessible. This has greatly increased Lauren's social capital. Most private homes are inaccessible to Lauren, including all of our own extended family.
So, no matter how you find your potential candidates, there will always be much to consider. Know your area, stay connected with your community, and mention your search to everyone that you think could be helpful...even a few you may not ordinarily consider. You may be surprised that the lady behind the deli counter that cuts your turkey just right, may want to help.