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Should You Prepare A Home Care Agreement If You Are Caring for a Relative?

If you regularly provide paid care to a family member, it's a good idea to prepare a simple, written agreement setting out the terms of your arrangement. A personal care agreement can help both you and your family member(s) be clear about what you're supposed to be doing and when.

  • It can also help avoid misunderstandings with other family members about who is providing care and how much money it is costing.
  • If the care recipient is receiving Veteran’s or state assistance for in-home care, the agreement can provide the documentation the programs will require.
  • If the person ever needs to enter a nursing home and needs Medicaid assistance, the agreement can show that these payments to you were legitimate.
  • A personal care agreement should include the following basic information
    1. When the care will begin.
    2. What tasks you'll perform. Be specific and thorough, but also include the term "or similar tasks to be mutually agreed upon by the parties." This gives you both some flexibility, so you won't need to rewrite the agreement every time you change the tasks you perform
  • How often, and for how many hours, you'll provide this care.
  • How much you'll be paid, and when the payment will be made. Payments should always be made by check in order to create a documented record of payments.
  • How long the agreement will stay in effect. This can be a set time, like six months, or simply make the contract open-ended, described with a phrase such as, "This agreement shall remain in force until terminated in writing by either party." In that case, either of you can end the arrangement at any time by writing a signed, dated note saying that the agreement is over, and giving the note to the other person.
  • A statement that the terms of the agreement can be changed only by mutual agreement, in writing, by both parties.

You can probably draw up the agreement yourself, without paying for a lawyer. You can find an agreement among the many law forms on the Internet. Once you have a version of the agreement that both of you are comfortable with, make several copies. You and your family member should both sign and date two copies, each of you keeping one. If you feel more comfortable having a lawyer draw up the agreement discuss the terms of the agreement with your family member before seeing the lawyer. That will make the process quicker and therefore less expensive.You can change a personal care agreement at any time. To make a change, both of you have to agree. If you both want to make a change, simply write a note explaining the change – amount of pay, hours worked, different tasks -- with both of you signing and dating the note, and attach it to the original contract. If there are enough changes to cause you to draft a new contract, include the phrase "This agreement supersedes all previous agreements between the parties having to do with personal care.  "One caveat is you shouldn’t assume the agency providing the benefit will allow for the care to be provided by a family member or a non-licensed agency. Always check with the agency first to ensure they will, in fact, cover payments made to you.

Elderwerks is a free senior housing and care resource network helping families find senior housing, care and support services. If you have any questions about care for your parents, need help figuring out what to do next or if you just want to bounce some ideas off of us please call 847-462-0885 or visit www.Elderwerks.com.