The Warning Signs of a Bad Home Health Care Worker


Published: 01/10/2012


We at the Senior Care Society know all too well that while the majority of health care workers in the field are qualified and good caring people, there are some bad apples in the bunch that you will need to be wary of. Therefore, we would like to provide you with the following warning signs to watch out for and what you will need to do to find a qualified and trustworthy home health care worker.

As would be the case of a health care worker being employed by a home health care agency independent providers are required to meet certain criteria to obtain a license. If you choose to hire an independent provider you should be prepared to make a thorough criminal background check, verify their license or credentials and references. The majority of health care providers are legitimate, but there are imposters out there, so be diligent you are placing your loved one’s care in their hands.


When you have made a thorough investigation of your selected health care worker it is typically a good idea to begin the employment with a two week trial period. After a few days of the trial period ask the care receiver how they feel about the caregiver and ask very specific questions. For example ask if the care giver is gentle, patient, of even or good temperament, do they respond promptly to their needs, are they able to professionally perform their duties i.e. lifting, dressing, feeding etc. and if they are comfortable with the caregiver. Repeat your evaluation with the health care receiver again in another week. Competence is the most important factor in deciding whether this is the right person to care for your loved one, but all the elements mentioned above should be seriously considered.

The majority of people delivering home health care are compassionate and good people with the best of intentions for the well being of their patients, however there are some who are not so well intentioned. Below you will find the leading tips from various agencies specializing in Geriatric care as well as tips from our own seasoned patient advocate:



                  Important warning signs of a poor home health care provider

  • Arriving late or departing early to or from work.
  • The phone is either unanswered, busy or clicked over from another call.
  • The television is continually on or radio.
  • Noticeable decline in the cleanliness of the home.
  • Improper disposal of healthcare equipment – i.e. needles or cotton swabs placed in the trash rather than proper sanitary disposal.
  • Evidence of illegal drug uses for example the lingering odor of marijuana.
  • Evidence that the caregiver has been consuming alcohol – i.e. smell of alcohol on caregiver’s breath, slurred speech or noticeable behavior changes.
  •  Evidence of the presence of unexplained visitors in the home – i.e. friends or children of the health care provider, neighbors may have noticed strangers coming and going.
  • The care receiver makes frequent complaints about the caregiver.
  • Significant change in the care receiver’s behavior such as confusion, depression or agitation before or after the health care provider comes or goes.
  • Reports from neighbors that something is wrong, reports of unexplained loud noises, raised voices, cries or moaning.
  • Duties are not completed without a valid reason.


The following are physical symptoms and signs of abuse and should never be ignored or explained away by the caregiver.

  • Injuries which are impossible (for example a dislocated ankle in a patient who is confined to bed.
  • Bruises, bumps, cuts, fractures or burns.
  • Signs of improper medication dosing ( patient appears unusually sleepy or groggy or is complaining of pain more frequently)
  • A complaint of hunger or thirst after caregiver departs.
  • Injuries due to exposure; such as hypothermia, sun burn, dehydration.


  • Unusual concern with whether or not the caregiver would approve or wants.
  • Undue nervousness or hyper vigilance displayed by the care receiver.
  • Sudden appearance of fears or new phobias, religious fears etc.
  • Signs of upset, fear or nervousness prior to the caregiver’s arrival.


  • Disappearance of valuables, house hold items or groceries
  • Sudden appearance of new valuable items in the home (i.e. new television or jewelry)
  • Unexplained cash expenses, withdrawals from checking or savings accounts.
  • Changes in the care receivers will or financial status.
  • Bills for services not delivered or necessary.
  • Unusual financial contributions to religious or charitable organizations.

For more information on how to report eldercare abuse please go to our web site @, contact your local or state authorities, or go to