There are two ways you can to find attendants: you can use attendant-providing agencies or hire your own attendant. Agencies are listed in the Yellow Pages under “Nursing” and “Home Health Services.”

Points to consider about using an agency to hire your aides are:

  • They have a pool of prescreened workers to choose from
  • They can usually provide back-up attendants on call
  • They take care of the paperwork, insurance, taxes, and filing
  • You can usually change attendants quickly
  • The cost for an agency-provided aide averages $14 per hour (aides often make $7 to $10 an hour)
  • A 4-hour minimum is often required for each visit

When considering an agency, don’t be afraid to interview the agency. If they don’t want to take time to answer your questions, it might not be an agency you want to use. Remember, we are talking about personal care. This is intimate work. You want to hire an agency that cares.

If you plan on hiring your own caregiver, the aide will probably make more money working for you, rather than for an agency. There are no hour minimums are required—you get what you want—but you do have to do all the training and handle taxes, Social Security, and other employment-related matters.

  • The first step is to determine the needs of your body so you can look for someone to meet them. Scheduling is very important. For instance, I need my morning aide to be a morning person, or someone who is willing to adjust and get up early enough to be at my house by 7:30 a.m. My night aide must be a peaceful and easy-going person who can go to sleep, wake up, and help me with my personal care in the middle of the night and then go back to sleep.
  • The next and sometimes most difficult issue is that of compensation. I’ve learned that most attendants are not in this business to make a lot of money, but you need to make sure they are being compensated fairly. Check the going rates for aides in your area. Remember, reporting an attendant’s income is a legal requirement. Taxes can be handled by the person hiring the aide or the aide who is doing the work.
  • Advertising of any kind must sound good, and it must be in the right place at the right time. When it comes to finding a good attendant, knowing what to say in an ad and placing the ad properly can make a difference. Here is a sample ad that can be modified to fit you: "Aide for professional woman on wheels. Overnight 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. Some lifting and personal care. Reliable transportation needed."
  • On the day your ad appears in the paper, plan to be at home. When you need someone, and someone wants a job, answering the phone in person is much better than having an answering machine asking them to leave a message. The most important thing with phone calls is consistency. Try to mention the same things in the same order to each caller so that you don’t miss any part of your job description or forget to ask key questions. Make sure you discuss all of the tasks that need to be done: transfers in and out of a wheelchair, personal care, driving, etc.
  • If everything seems to be fine on the phone for both of you, then you are ready to interview the candidate in person. Before the interview, come up with a list of questions that will help you determine the character and abilities of candidates. Also ask the candidate to bring two work and two personal references with them.
  • During the interview, ask your questions and then simply listen. I pay close attention to body language. Do attendant applicants look you straight in the eye? Do they seem sincere in their responses? Are they relaxed and natural in responding to your questions? If they do all of the above, great!
  • After the interview, follow up with all of the references. Let the reference person know that the applicant will be assisting you in your home and that you have to know as much about this person as possible. If the applicant’s reference is good, he or she will speak in a positive way at length about the applicant’s abilities. I cannot emphasize enough: One bad reference is one too many! I have given some attendants the benefit of the doubt and have always regretted it.

If your candidate completes all of these steps and seems to align with your needs, personality, and values, you are ready to hire!