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Q&A on Care with Wendy

In our series, Q&A on Care with Wendy, our Executive Director and Co-Owner Wendy Adlerstein answers frequently asked questions about FirstLight Home Care of West Suburban Boston and FirstLight Home Care of Boston-Back Bay services. Read weekly to learn what makes our services unique, gain a better understanding of home care in general, and walk away with some questions to add to your list if you are looking for services.

This week she will be discussing the differences in hiring someone privately versus working with an agency.

Q: What are the advantages of using an agency like FirstLight vs. hiring a caregiver “privately” or directly? Couldn’t I find a person and pay them directly?

A: While hiring a caregiver privately or “under the table” may appear to be less expensive, there are added expenses and significant risks. For starters, you are considered the employer, so liability for you and your family exists–which means you could be sued. Liability includes any costs related to an injury that occurs on the job, such as medical expenses, lost wages or income, and disability payments. You as the employer are responsible for federal and state taxes, required Mass. Paid Family & Medical Leave deductions and contributions, mandated sick time, and if the caregiver is misclassified as an independent contractor when determined to be an employee, you are subject to tax evasion charges, back taxes and penalties. You are responsible for confirming that the caregiver is authorized to work in the U.S. You need to certify the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ I-9 form. Failure to complete and/or hiring an unauthorized worker can result in penalties up to $10,000. Worker’s liability insurance is your responsibility and premiums rise yearly. You are responsible for having the employee fill out required Federal and state tax withholding forms (e.g., W-4) and providing year end reporting to the IRS and state authorities. The W-2 falls to you. 

Contrast this exposure with engaging FirstLight Home Care: In addition to serving as the employer and relieving you of the risks and costs outlined above, we have a deep and continually expanding workforce, so if your caregiver is ill or on vacation—or if your needs change–we will introduce you to alternate caregivers. We identify and hire the best professional caregivers and provide pre-screening followed by more in-depth screening including interviews, criminal background checks, and reference checks. We put caregivers through a proprietary care assessment for competency, attitude, and behavior. We have professional, on-call office staff available 24/7 for any concerns or needs. FirstLight supervises our caregivers to ensure that the care being provided is according to your care plan. We believe this allows for a more consistent and higher quality of care.

About Wendy:  Wendy Adlerstein, LSW is an expert on aging and home care with over 25 years of experience helping seniors and their families navigate these difficult decisions. As owner and Executive Director of FirstLight Home Care of West Suburban Boston and Boston-Back Bay, she runs a business that provides private home care services that allow adults and seniors to receive the support they deserve in the comfortable, familiar setting of their own home.  If you have a question for Wendy, please feel free to reach out to her at 781-559-0220 or by email at wadlerstein@firstlighthomecare.com.

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