February 21, 2017

When someone you love needs help to stay safe and comfortable at home, choosing the right person can be a challenge. Even though the benefits of having help are clear, the idea of inviting a stranger into your home understandably makes many people uncomfortable.

For most people, there are really two options for finding an in-home care provider: either hire a home care agency, or hire a private independent caregiver.

At first glance, an independent caregiver may seem more affordable. However, since in-home care is considered an employer-employee relationship, state and federal employment laws and regulations apply.  Employment taxes alone can swiftly escalate the cost above your agreed upon hourly rate.

You may also need to carry additional liability insurance to protect yourself in the event of an accident – a simple homeowner’s policy is probably not enough.

In addition, you will need to have a fully developed job description and employment agreement. You should conduct a thorough review of any private caregiver’s background, and may want to consider checking credit as well.

The caregiver will need to fill out an Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 and you need to keep a copy. This verifies that the person is legally entitled to work in the United States. The I-9 form and Publication 926 can be downloaded at or ordered by calling (800) TAX-FORM.

In many cases home care expenses are deductible on your federal personal income taxes, so you’ll want to make sure to follow all of these legally requirements when hiring an independent.   . Information on federal employment tax requirements can be found in Publication 926 from the IRS.

Most people find that choosing a home care agency is the better option, both in terms of managing the caregiver and the peace of mind an agency can provide, as an established, reputable home care agency takes the entire burden off of you.

Visiting Angels, a home care company serving Sussex County lists the major benefits of using a home care agency:

  • Agencies will screen caregivers and conduct background checks. Visiting Angels will save you the expense and trouble of doing a comprehensive background investigation and you can be assured that the caregiver you choose is trustworthy and qualified for the job. Delaware state regulations require all caregivers to pass health screenings, state and federal criminal background checks, and to complete training and orientation specific to senior care.  Agencies like Visiting Angels provide additional training in specialty areas like dementia and Alzheimer’s care.
  • Agencies are bonded, licensed and insured. Agencies should assume full liability for all care provided, and should be insured in the event a caregiver is injured in your home. Keep in mind that should you choose to hire an independent caregiver, as the employer, you will be responsible for the liability risk of both the caregiver and the care recipient.
  • Agencies monitor and supervise their caregivers to ensure quality care. Visiting Angels wants to be assured that they are providing the highest level of care possible; supervisory visits and regular ‘drop-ins” on caregivers take place regularly. If your current caregiver is not meeting your needs for any reason, the agency will provide a replacement.
  • Agencies take responsibility for your caregiver’s payroll and benefits. If you hire a caregiver through an agency, the agency is the individual’s employer, not you. That means you don’t have to be concerned with keeping track of their pay schedule, benefits, vacation days, or paying taxes for them. Visiting Angels will provide a fill-in caregiver should your caregiver need to take a sick day.

Before considering hiring an independent caregiver, carefully consider all of the liability, responsibility and attentiveness that will be required of you.

Visiting Angels caregivers are available from a few hours to 24/7 care.  They can assist with personal hygiene, meal preparation, light housekeeping, laundry, errands, shopping and appointments and joyful companionship. An owner stays involved with every case, and is always just a phone call away.  They answer or respond within 15 minutes, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  Call Visiting Angels at 302-329-9475, or visit

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