Finding The Right Caregiver When You Have Cancer

Caregivers offer physical and emotional care and can play a key role in helping cancer sufferers during their treatment, recovery, and beyond. Often they can be a spouse, partner, family member, or a close friend, and while they may not be trained for the job, for many, they are the lifeline of the person with cancer and can be seen as their guiding light in a sea of uncertainty. 


And, while a spouse, partner, or friend can help with daily needs and activities. There are other times when you may need to hire a ‘professional’ caregiver. For example, you might not have family close by to help with your long-term caregiving, or you may need specific medical care from a skilled cancer nurse. There may also be times, when you need to hire a caregiver to give your regular caregiver a break, this is called respite care. 

What kind of care do I need?

You need to think about what type of care do you need, for example, you may need a nurse to help you at home after chemotherapy or surgery. So ask your health care team these questions:

  • How long after my surgery or treatment before I can return home?
  • Will I need any medical help at home after my surgery or treatment?
  • If so, what type of help will I need, and how long will I need it for?
  • Will I need help with simple daily personal tasks, like having a shower or getting dressed?
  • Am I going to feel too tired to do my usual chores, like cooking, cleaning, laundry, etcetera?

Or, there may be other times, when you need to hire a caregiver because you need extra help around the house or to give your regular caregiver a break. So then, you need to ask yourself these questions:

  • Are personal or household tasks getting too difficult for me on my own?
  • Do I need help to organise my appointments or paying bills?
  • Do I need help to organise my caregivers or caregiving tasks?


How do I find a trusted caregiver for my loved one or me?

There are a number of routes you can take when it comes to finding a trusted caregiver for you or a loved one. Typically Home Health agencies can do much of the work in finding licensed, reliable professional caregivers. They offer different types of caregivers, from nurses to therapists to home health aides. The agency screens, hires and supervises each caregiver, they also pay the caregiver’s salary and covers liability for care.

Ask your health care team for a referral to a local home health care agency or talk with your local hospital about home health care agencies near you. Or, you can contact the department of health or social services for a list of licensed home health agencies.

You can also hire a caregiver on your own. There are several online tools and apps that have made hiring independent contractors easier than ever, and although it can be less expensive than going through an agency, it does come with risks and will take more work and time to screen, hire, and supervise these caregivers.

Personal recommendations can also be helpful, ask friends and family members if they can make any recommendations.


What should I look for when hiring a caregiver?

When speaking with a potential caregiver, be sure to share with them what a typical day looks like for you and any information your health care team has provided about the care you’ll need.

Think about whether you need someone for just a couple of hours per day or if you need help around the clock. Also, consider your finances in advance, in case you need to cover some or all the expenses yourself.

If you use a staffing service or hire someone on your own, it can be helpful to write a brief job description and have a phone interview, before you have a face-to-face interview. During the call, ask for references and follow up on the references before you invite the person to your home for an interview.

When you meet for the interview, be honest and upfront with the potential caregiver about what you need their assistance with, such as helping you into the shower or help using the bathroom. Ask them if they are willing and able to help you with these duties. You should also look for a caregiver who is available during your ideal hours or days and who has experience providing the kind of care that you need.

During the interview, look for things that you value, such as being compassionate or listening closely. Was the person on time for the interview? Did the person seem engaged? Did they ask any questions and seem interested in you or your loved one’s overall well being? More importantly, would you want to spend time with that person? Would you be comfortable giving them a key to your home, if necessary? 

Finally, always trust your instincts and continue to evaluate that person once you have hired them. Caregiving takes knowledge and compassion, so always remember there are people who can help – you are not alone on your cancer journey


Learning to live with Cancer

To learn more about what to look for when finding the right caregiver, visit, Cancer Pro is the voice of the world’s cancer physicians and oncology professionals and is one of the top cancer information resources in the wider ASEAN region.