Back-Up Care for Elders

For many older individuals, living independently means they are living their life with dignity the way they wish to live it. However, some elder individuals require support to live independently successfully. Elder care companions offer the non-medical support needed for elderly individuals to care for themselves and their homes.

Since some elderly individuals depend on elder companions to offer support, when there is a breakdown in elder care services, the well-being of the elder client and her living quarters can become compromised.

Need for Back-Up Elder Care

Often times, family members are the first to provide assistance to elderly family members. Family members often step in to meet an immediate care need before realizing the intensity or duration of care that is required. Once the realization sets in that daily, ongoing support is required, family members may opt to bring in additional, experienced elder care companions to help meet the needs of their elder family member.

Elder companions can be hired to replace or supplement family care, giving family members respite and time to care for themselves and their immediate family members and affairs.  When family members are unable to provide care because of illness or other commitments, a back-up elder companion can be hired to meet the immediate needs of the elderly family member.

Family members may opt to hire a full-time elder companion to meet their elderly family members’ needs. Family members and the elder client may count on their elder companion to provide consistent and ongoing support. However, elder care providers can become sick or need to take time off. When this happens, a back-up care elder companion can step in and meet the elder client’s needs.

A back-up elder care provider may prepare nutritious meals, complete housekeeping tasks,  prompt the client to take medications, do laundry and even transport the elder client to and from medical appointments or on errands. They may also assist with bathing and other daily hygienic care. Depending on the needs of the client, they may spend a few hours per day with the client; provide full-day support, or may even live-in the elder clients home to provide round the clock support and care.

Some eldercare providers may have a nursing background. If the elder client requires medical care, it’s essential the hiring party finds a medically qualified provider who is able to provide the necessary medical assistance needed as most eldercare providers do not provide medical care.

How to Find Back-Up Elder Care Companions

Back-up elder care providers, also called elder companions, can be found through word-of-mouth, through a domestic staffing agency or through online recruiting. They may also be found through advertising in newspapers, by hanging flyers on community bulletin boards or through referrals made by the local Council on Aging.

Whether using an agency to recruit potential elder care providers or recruiting one yourself, it is important to have a clear job description for the elder companion you wish to hire. Clearly articulating your care needs will make finding a compatible elder care provider easier. When considering your job description you’ll want to consider the typical duties and responsibilities your elder companion must be qualified and willing to take on. You’ll also want to take the elder client’s personality and lifestyle into consideration so you choose a provider the elder client will be comfortable being around.

Domestic staffing agencies and those who specialize in placing home health aides and elder companions typically also offer back-up care services. Agencies may charge a registration plus a per day placement fee for securing a back-up elder companion. They may have set back-up care hourly fees that that are paid to their providers, find a caregiver whose hourly rate is within the range you wish to pay or they may allow you to negotiate the hourly rate directly with the elder companion. After you complete your initial application and pay any registration fees, domestic staffing agencies find qualified and prescreened candidates who are available to work when you need them to to present for your hiring consideration. However, when last minute and short-term back-up care requests are made, a qualified and suitable provider may be immediately assigned and dispatched to provide care.

Online sites that specialize in recruiting household workers are a good way to recruit elder companions without having to pay a huge search fee. For family members who wish to hand-select their back-up elder provider, using an online site can be a feasible option. Once a profile is created, the database of available back-up elder care providers can be searched by experience, availability and even geographical location. To contact these providers directly, a small fee it typically required to access direct contact information. Since there is typically no screening conducted of eldercare providers, the user must take initiative and do their own screening. Most reputable sites have integrated screening tools that allow users to conduct in-depth screenings on those back-up elder care companions they are interested in hiring.

Word-of-mouth recruiting allows you to connect with an elder caregiver you are somehow already connected to. With word-of-mouth referrals you’re able to access those within your network and the network of those connected to you for hiring consideration. Since those in your network likely know your personality and your situation, you may find you receive high-quality referrals.

Regardless of how a back-up eldercare provider is recruited, it’s up to the hiring party to ensure that the provider is qualified and suitably screened. Reputable websites like  provide standalone screening tools hiring parties can use to conduct pre-employment background checks.

Establishing an Elder Back-Up Care Network

Since elderly individuals often rely solely on their companions to prepare meals and take them to appointments, it’s essential that those overseeing care have access to a pool of qualified back-up eldercare providers. With a prescreened and prequalified pool of back-up elder companions, back-up care is easier to secure. While a domestic staffing agency will do their best to meet your client’s needs, having your own pool of providers can give you 24 hour access to preapproved candidates who you can reach out to directly regarding providing back-up eldercare coverage.