alt=A young man sits in a motorized wheelchair, asking questions from a clipboard to a line of caregivers and medical professionals.

Finding the Right Caregivers

Living with a disability, I like to consider a full-contact sport. It requires your mind, body, and soul to be as healthy as possible. And in most cases, it requires a team. So how do you go about picking your team, your caregivers?

My experience has led me to make some untraditional choices. I don’t prefer working with nurses. I do not live in a hospital so why would I need a nurse? The limited medical equipment I use is easily trainable to the layperson, which I am able to do.

I have found that nurses often carry the practices and procedures of a medical facility to my home. One caregiver would check on me every hour while sleeping, waking me up throughout the night. That was quickly changed.

Finding a caregiver with the right personality

Because of this, I tend to seek out people without experience but willing to do the job, so I may train them in my ways of doing the job. Not that of a hospital.

The most important factor for me is the personality of the individual. Not the experience, which can be trained to your preferences. Not the recommendations.

How do I get along with this person? That's the most important part. Because I will be sharing very private and sometimes gross or embarrassing moments with them.

The decision to hire a caregiver

I do have my family help me interview them. However, the decision is ultimately mine. Even if my entire family loves a candidate and I do not get along with the individual, that is the deciding factor.

One former caregiver of mine was deathly afraid of going out in public. I was in my mid-20s and wanted to go to bars, parties, have a social life. Every request to do something like that took convincing.

So, when interviewing someone, I try to find out about their personality. Do they have a sense of humor which I enjoy? What are their interests?

Being specific about my preferences

I prefer someone easy to talk to. Others do not. What are your preferences in working closely with someone? Try to think about that ahead of the interview.

In addition to their personality, I look for a few other characteristics. I prefer someone that pays attention to details. Parts of my care have to be done a certain way (yes, my way).

Some of them are a little odd for other people, but my experience shows this way works for me. Try to think about every detail of your care and what if done improperly would make your day more difficult. Those should be brought up in training and highlighted.

I also look for someone with patience. If they get angry easily, it ruins my day and makes my life more difficult. Obviously, I also look for reliability and trustworthiness.

You are placing your life in this person’s hands. You should have faith they will do what they say on a regular basis.

Unfortunately, there is not a test or set of questions to help you find these characteristics. Or at least one that I am aware of. It takes some practice and trial and error.

Often your gut instinct is the best judge. Do you have experience interviewing people? What do you look for?

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