Short essays by Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D., the author of TING AND I: A Memoir of Love, Courage and Devotion, published in September 2011 by Outskirts Press (Parker, CO, USA), available from outskirtspress.com/tingandi, Barnes and Noble [bn.com], and Amazon [amazon.com], in paperback or ebook formats. Please visit us at tingandi.com for more information.
Thursday, July 21, 2016
6 Considerations When Hiring Nurses for Home Care
Suddenly, You Need a Nurse at Home
year, millions of older people---those 65 and older---fall. In fact, one out of
three older people falls each year….” [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
consequences are sudden and serious. For example, the CDC notes that each year
a quarter of a million older people in the U.S. are hospitalized for hip
fractures, and more than 95% of these are caused by falling.
mother fractured her hip from a fall in 2010 at the age of 93 and was thereafter
virtually bedridden, with continual nursing care at home, until her death five
years later. We hired our own nurses to give private duty care for her and for
my wife, quadriplegic and ventilator-dependent due to multiple sclerosis.
employee hiring consultant Stan Dubin notes in his How to Hire the Right People, mistakes in hiring lead to lost
wages, theft, loss of privacy, poor performance, and bad morale. In the home
care setting, poor choices can also lead to patient injury and depression,
along with family disruption.
First, How Do You Find Nurses?
started by advertising in the Help Wanted part of the classified section of the
local newspaper. We briefly described the situation to give some clue as to the
challenge and the environment. We stated the hourly wage and noted that Social
Security and Medicare would be deducted, this to eliminate those who want to
work “off the books,” a sure-fire invitation to later troubles.
could also advertise in other local publications and on the Internet. You can
also ask people who have employed nurses before and ask your family doctors.
Second, Manage the Interviews
the first week we ran the ad, we got so many calls that scheduling the
interviews became a challenge, and we started asking and answering questions
that would enable the caller and ourselves to get a quick idea of whether the
caller was likely to be a good match, a pre-interview to save each side some
trouble. For example, we required flu shots, to protect the patient, and some nurses
would not agree to get them. Some sought to work “off the books.” No. That’s an
invitation to trouble.
pre-screening, you should schedule some to come for an at-home interview. You
will want to see if they can find your home, come on time, and behave suitably
in the home setting. Have a third person (besides the candidate and yourself)
present during the interview.
Third, Make Salary and Conditions of
offered the same wage for RNs and LPNs, although typically RNs get
significantly more than LPNs. Our wage was high enough to attract local RN
candidates and to attract LPNs from farther away. Other things being equal, we
would give preference to the RNs, better-trained than the LPNs, although an
experienced LPN was sometimes preferable to a new RN.
the conditions of employment clear: wages,
deductions, hours, scheduling, vacations, sick days, taboos…have a list and go
through it with the candidate. If an issue arises after hiring, you will be
glad you did.
Fourth, Clarify What You Need from a
them bring a resume and a copy of their nursing license, along with their
driver’s license and Social Security card. Make copies for your records. The
resume should be neat, virtually error-free. Gaps in employment need to be
explained by the candidate. Explore their reasons for having changed jobs.
Responsibilities should have increased over their career and should include the
duties you will ask to be handled.
developed an interview form, to enter information about the experience and
training of the candidate, and we asked each about allergies or morbid fear of dogs
(we had a Golden Retriever), and we noted that there could be no smoking on the
job (fire safety). We discussed why the candidate was available, for what
dates, days, hours, how she viewed home care, what problems she foresaw in the
situation, and we obtained her references and often a resume. We made sure
their English language skills are adequate.
Fifth, Explore Attitudes as Well as Skills
has suggested discussing of what it means to be “responsible:”coming on time, reliably; performing
all required duties; going beyond the required duties occasionally; alerting
management to problems; cooperating with co-workers; suggesting improvements to
care; being loyal to the patient and the family; respecting their privacy in
the home and outside. While getting paid is an important reason for working, it
should not be the only reason; some element of desire to perform nurturing,
personal nursing care should co-exist with it.
Sixth, Follow Up after the Interview
the interview, we gave them a subjective (and not revealed to them) grade that
reflected both objective elements as well as subjective elements, trying to
assure both technical competence and interpersonal acceptability. Intelligence
and positive attitude were prized, though education and experience counted too.
it important to check references. The best nurses were usually enthusiastically
praised by former employers, but others were given lukewarm evaluations or our
calls were not returned.
called back all those we interviewed, informing them of our decision to hire or
not to hire. Those not hired were just told we found someone who fit our needs better.
process resulted in a staff that received many compliments from the medical
professionals with whom we interacted, a staff whose members averaged many
years of service with us.
Do you know people who have hired nurses
for home care? How did they select them?
A former Harvard science
professor, Dr. Cooper continues to publish, and he helps others write and
publish their books, via his http://WriteYourBookWithMe.com. His life's predominant theme has been a
half-century romance with Tina Su Cooper, his wife, now quadriplegic due to
multiple sclerosis and receiving 24/7 nursing care at home, as discussed at
their website here.