If you are homebound, the people you live with are very important. Sometimes those are the only people you see!
Most states have programs that provide free home aides or caregivers to people who are low income and cannot care for themselves. To find out more, check out: How to Get a Caregiver. If your looking for your dream housemate or perfect caregiver, here’s some ideas to get you started:
How To Get Started
When advertising for housemates or caregivers, my friends and I usually use Craigslist, Facebook, ask friends, or post notices on the bulletin board of a local health food store.
If I am in online groups for other topics, I might ask the moderator there if I can post my request. For example, we’ve found wonderful people through local animal rescue Facebook groups by posting that we are seeking animal lovers who also would like to care for a human. Of course, animal rescue people are my favorite people on earth!
For Craiglist, we don’t restrict ourselves to the housing and help wanted section. We have found great people by posting in “creative gigs” “artists” and “childcare”
If you are a Spoonie, you may need a quiet, low-key, understanding household. I always write the word “quiet” right in the title of the ad in big letters. Some people have told me they read my ad based just on seeing this word. Those are my people!! Sample headlines:
- “Quiet Household. Introverts Welcome”
- “Quiet, Friendly House. People with Disabilities Welcome”
- “Eco-Friendly, Nontoxic, Quiet Household seeks Kindhearted Housemates”
- “Seeking Introverted, Quiet, Compassionate Caretaker”
- “Quiet, Thoughtful Writer Seeks Eco-Friendly Home”
On the other hand, some people just write:
- “Room for rent in three-bedroom house”
- “Disability Home Aide Wanted”
Judge for yourself. Which would you be more likely to click on?
What to Write
When writing an ad, it’s a good idea to focus on what you want. Describe all the great and positive things about you or your home, and all the wonderful qualities you are seeking in a housemate or caregiver. Once you have found someone you like, you can work together to decide your household agreements.
What to Avoid
A lot of people want to include everything they do not want, so that they can screen out bad people. But that’s not what happens. What happens is you screen out good people. The more daunting or demanding or negative your ad is, the less responses you will get.
Let’s take an example: There is no need to write “NO CHEMICALS” in your ad. If you meet a wonderful, kind communicative person, you can make an agreement with them about chemicals later. If you fill your ad with the word “NO” that wonderful kind person may never respond, and you’ve missed the opportunity. I sometimes come across ads that are filled with statements like:
- “Don’t apply if you are not this-thing, this-thing, and this-thing”
- “You must be willing to do things this-way, this-way and this-way”
- “No drama, no messiness, no late rent, no fighting, no crooks, no frauds, no parties, no pets, no noise, no students, no slackers, no this, no that, no other thing”
- “I’m in this terrible situation right now. Why don’t you write to me so you can get involved in my problems.”
You know who responds to these kind of ads? Nobody.
I don’t like to turn away a lot of people and I don’t like to get a lot of mail, so we just let people self-select out.
We have found that if you write “LGBT queer friendly” at the top of the page, that will usually do the trick. Other phrases like “diverse races, nationalities and cultural backgrounds welcome” or “social justice activists” or “people with disabilities” may also change who will respond to an ad.
The Sleepy Girl Secret Special Screening Method
We’ve had a lot of success screening people on Facebook. When someone responds to my ad, if they sound promising to me, we will write back and send a link to my Facebook page or ask for their Facebook ID and then send them a friend request. Then we click on their profile picture and scroll through all the profile pics they have ever posted.
What I want to see: Lots of loving, supportive comments from friends and family over several years. Comments and tagged photos from people that appear to know this person in real life. Comments by real people who also appear to have real Facebook profiles.
What I don’t want to see: Racism, intolerance, mocking people, frat parties, little or no comments, new accounts, profiles that look fake, generic comments from strangers.
Facebook also shows if we have any friends in common, so I can write to those friends and ask for the inside scoop. If you live in a smallish area, anyone like-minded may have a few friends in common.
We also scroll down their newsfeed to see what kind of things they post. I really did not realize the world was such a racist place until I started scrolling way down in people’s newsfeeds. People sound so nice and normal when they contact you!
If someone doesn’t have a Facebook account, or the account is new and we don’t know anyone in common with this person, it may be safer not to consider that person.
Stay Safe Out There
People with disabilities are especially vulnerable to scams, frauds, and wrongdoing.
Please be careful with scams. Never give any kind of money by Western Union or Money Gram. Screen carefully. There are online state registries where you can do free criminal background checks, though they will not tell you if there person committed a crime in another state. Craigslist scam tips.
Please be careful with personal safety. Don’t give out your address to strangers or invite strangers into your home. Do not post your address in your ad – just write the neighborhood. Make sure to have a friend or another person with you when meeting. Craigslist personal safety tips
Qualifying for Caregivers
If you are unable to care for yourself and need assistance, there may be a program in your area that can help you. If you are low-income, some programs are free through the state. Some programs will send a caregiver from an agency, while other programs will allow you to select the caregiver of your choice. In some states your condition must be very severe to qualify. Learn more: How To Be Homebound
If you are interested in communes, eco-villages, co-housing, cooperatives and other types of alternative living, you may be able to find a whole bunch of fabulous housemates all at once: Community Is The Best Medicine: Cooperative Living on a Disability Income
More Places to Look
Care.com is a great place to look for caregivers, though there is a join fee.
Homeshare is an international network of people who provide support and companionship to a householder in exchange for free or low-cost accommodation.
Housing Resources (scroll down to find links to Facebook groups for Spoonie housemates)
SAMPLE CAREGIVER AD #1
SEEKING KINDHEARTED GENTLE CAREGIVER
Caregiver for woman with disabilities. Personal care, cooking, light cleaning, errands, phone calls, driving. accompanying to doctors appointments. 20 hours per week. Schedule is flexible/negotiable.
Seeking a compassionate and understanding person. Caregiving experience not required, but must have good references that show trustworthiness. Seeking a person who is:
- Quiet, introverted, gentle, calm
- Kind and compassionate
- Has car and able to drive
- Able to lift things
- Likes cats
- Local to ____ neighborhood
Household is LGBT friendly. Artists, writers, activists, healers, diverse backgrounds welcome
SAMPLE CAREGIVER AD #2
Calm, Gentle, Peaceful Caregiver Needed for Artist
We are seeking a patient, kind, and compassionate caregiver who would enjoy working in a quiet, peaceful environment. We are seeking a caretaker for a wonderful woman who is a loving and creative artist. We hope to find a caretaker for some day shifts, but mostly night shifts. We are looking for someone who: Has 3 references. Please have reliable transportation. Please have a cell phone. Please be a non smoker. You will need to be able to see and work in dim lighting
SAMPLE HOUSEMATE AD
Quiet, Calm, Eco-Friendly Household
We are seeking a housemate for our beautiful, quiet, calm house. The house is charming and spacious, set back from the road, and surrounded by flowering trees.
We are seeking a quiet housemate. Writers, scholars, healers, activists, and vegetarians especially welcome.
Household includes people with disabilities and welcomes people with disabilities and chronic illnesses. People from all spiritual paths, religious backgrounds, sexual orientations, cultures and races are welcome.
We are LGBT friendly, and we support immigrants rights, animal rights, disability rights, and social justice causes.
We are a scent-free and environmentally-friendly household and use non-toxic cleaning products and no personal scented products. Please respond by writing and telling us a little about yourself and how you might be a good match for our household.