The term "sitters" is probably the most misunderstood position title in elder care. This is probably because of the variety of tasks that they are asked to do. Each patient situation calls for a different job description. Even so, there is a very useful place for them in elder care.
These workers typically work for minimum wage or a little more and go from job to job. Many of these jobs are temporary. Their work is needed only until the patient's condition improves to the point that she/he is no longer needed. At other times the patient's condition may deteriorate to the point of needing more skilled care or institutionalization.
I have known of long term employment of these workers who may stay with a family for years. These are workers who have delivered the service they were hired for and more; they became friends and almost like family. These people are the ones who do it for the intangible reward of caring for someone in need. The gratitude and esteem they receive from their employer is very rewarding. These caring individuals are the ones who would do it for free if they didn't need the money. These people are hard to find and most people hold on to them and pay them well.
These workers are usually untrained and unskilled. They are usually hired to supervise and assist with bringing water, warming food, dialing the telephone for you and other small tasks. I once interviewed a lady who stated, "Now, I ain't gonna do nothing but sit." She was serious about her statement and wanted to be paid for sitting with the patient and nothing more. Needless to say, while I appreciated this woman's candor, she did not get the job.
The wages for these services vary regionally and by skill and experience. You can find some sitters who will work for a little more than minimun wage. Then again, there are some people with years of experience who can ask for considerably more. The wages also depend on the difficulty of the tasks she is asked to perform. If she is asked to stay overnight, she will usually ask for more.
Some workers who are asked to cook or prepare a sandwich for the client expect to eat with the client. This is up to you whether you would want to do this but it is important that this be clarified up front during the interview. Make sure there is a clear understanding of what is expected from both parties. If a sitter will not be able to meet your needs, perhaps you need a more experienced and skilled worker like a certified nurse aide, a non-certified hired caregiver.
How to Find Sitters
You can hire a sitter through an agency or you can hire someone on your own. If you want to go through an agency, please click on the Home Health link below. If you are considering hiring someone, on your own, here are the steps to take.
Many people with years of experience have started working for themselves by Free-Lancing. This means they advertise their services and negotiate their working conditions and prices. There is nothing wrong with this and it can be a very good arrangement for you and her. The middle man is eliminated and you deal directly with the individual.
A very good way to find a worker is through word-of-mouth. Why? Because the person telling you about the worker probably has some first hand knowledge of his/her experience, skill, reliability, and personality. Half of your work is done. You have a trusted friend or relative giving you a reference on someone they used and liked. That recommendation is priceless.
Another way is to look in your local newspaper in the situations wanted section. There are some workers who advertise their elder care services. Call your local employment office. It may be a bit more cumbersome because of the protocol but you may be able to find help through them. You may also find ads in church bulletins or other business places that have public bulletins. Again, the best way is through word-of-mouth. Call your friends. If they don't have someone to refer to you, ask if they know of someone else who has hired a worker. Chances are your friends will be able to refer you to someone.