We thought it might be interesting to interview several of our seasoned In-Home Caregivers and get the "lowdown" on what it's really like to care for an elderly person or disabled adult at home. What do they love about the job? What are their gripes? What do they really want clients and their families to know?
Here's what some of our professional caregivers had to say on some "hot topics"...
What do you enjoy most about In-Home Caregiving?
Caregivers were unanimous in their preference for caring for an individual in a home environment over an institutional setting. All expressed satisfaction in cultivating a relationship with their client and his or her family. "The job is simply more personal and rewarding". Caregivers also appreciate the slower pace of homecare when compared with the sometimes frantic pace of hospitals or assisted living facilities where nursing assistants frequently assist numerous patients. Caregivers reported that they felt a higher level of satisfaction because they felt they played a key role in their client's quality of life.
Is it uncomfortable when family members "pop in" to observe the caregiver caring for the client?
Most caregivers indicated that they understood that family members needed to observe care tasks so that they developed a level of confidence in the caregiver and her abilities. One caregiver stated that she "encouraged client's family members to visit and observe. Trust develops that way and family also can see how hard we work; it's just not easy to care for an elderly person."
What is the most frustrating thing that family members do?
"Forgetting to tell me about a change in medical condition or medications that might alter their loved one's behavior can definitely be frustrating". Another caregiver raised a concern that sometimes family members stick their heads in the sand and refuse to take important actions or face difficult situations with elderly parent(s) because it's uncomfortable. Sometimes family members will hire a caregiver and then step completely out of the picture, leaving the professional caregiver without support.
If a family member has a concern about the way a caregiver is taking care of a loved one, how should it be addressed?
One caregiver shared this recommendation, "It's terrible when a family is disatisfied with care. In most cases, it's just a communicationproblem. Don't wait until things snowball and become unbearable." Provide your caregiver with specific feedback and recommendations for improvement. Commuincate directly but respectfully and recognize the things that he/she is doing right. Be careful not to throw the "baby out with the bathwater" if there are enough positive qualities about the caregiver.
How do caregivers really feel about being asked to do housekeeping tasks in addition to personal care duties?
This is definitely a "touchy" topic! Professional caregivers and certified nursing assistants all expect to assist with light housekeeping and sanitation since their elderly clients may not be able to handle these tasks effectively. Routine cleaning of kitchen, bathroom and bedroom is considered part of the job. The caregivers we interviewed expressed frustration when clients requested "deep cleaning" like scouring tubs or doing laundry for an entire household.
Do caregivers like receiving detailed care instructions from family members or do they resent it?
"I don't like step by step instructions for completing normal tasks. It comes across as micro-managing. However, it's great when a family member provides a general schedule of activities and a brief summary of needs and preferences." In general, caregivers appreciate some guidance and recommendations on how best to care for the client. However, they appreciate the opportunity to complete tasks in their own way. All agreed that it is essential to have a solid understanding of the client's expectations in order to avoid misunderstandings.
What's one thing you really wish you could tell your clients?
"Remembering to say 'please' and 'thank you' is very important to me!". Expressing gratitude definitely increases a caregiver's work satisfaction. Obviously, a caregiver who feels appreciated and valued will want to stay working for their client.
Another caregiver secretly wishes that she could share with her client's family just how hard she works. "Sometimes I get the feeling that family members don't fully understand how emotionally and physically exhausting it can be to care for a dementia patient all day...it's satisfying for me but some days are really tough."
"I am not a housekeeper for the whole family." One caregiver for an elderly woman felt taken advantage of when she was expected to clean up after messy kids and pets.
If you are a professional caregiver, we would love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to share your comments with our blog audience below.