Congratulations! You've done your homework, interviewed agencies, and cleared the monumental hurdle of convincing your parent that a caregiver is a necessity. You've taken the plunge and hired an agency to select a caregiver for your loved one. You are looking forward to turning some day to day care responsibilities over to a professional caregiver and hopefully regaining your sanity. The good news is that you WILL feel a great deal of relief and achieve peace of mind after your parent settles in with a caregiver. Unfortunately, no amount of background research can guarantee that everything will run smoothly. However, remain realistic and realize that achieving the "right" care arrangement is an ongoing process with "ups" and "downs" along the way.
Bringing in an outside caregiver is typically fought with emotion. It's a delicate and complex relationship between two people who may differ generationally and culturally. Add differing preferences and ways of doing things and there's the possibility of real "fireworks". For this reason, you will certainly remain involved in monitoring the success of the care arrangement. Of paramount concern in any evaluation will simply be, "Is our caregiver doing a good job for my parent?"
Top 5 Clues Your Caregiver is on the right track:
1) Your parent or loved one appears well adjusted, clean and comfortable. When you make an impromptu visit, your parent should look well cared for and appear at ease with their caregiver. A solid caregiver will make certain that hygiene needs are met on a daily basis and will encourage their client to keep up with grooming tasks. You'll notice that your parent does not seem tense but is relaxed and comfortable with their caregiver. The environment should be organized, sanitary and feel calm. Alarm bells should sound if your parent appears unkept or is in soiled clothing. Look closely at your parent's attitude and expressions for clues about his feelings towards his caregiver. Of course, one must always remain vigilant for any obvious signs of mistreatment or neglect including unexplained bruising, abrasions, cuts as well as nutritional deprivation.
2) My loved one's overall quality of life is improved and enhanced by the caregiver. A great caregiver goes "above and beyond" the basics of care and looks for ways to encourage your parent and help him or her thrive at home rather than merely existing. She will take an interest in learning their history, passions, the little things that bring them joy and find ways to incorporate those into the caregiving relationship. In short, your caregiver works to get your loved one "back in the game."
3) Communication channels are open and honest. Your family's caregiver should communicate effectively and honestly in all situations. You should receive regular updates regarding your parent's condition as well as alerts regarding any areas of concern. A mature, seasoned caregiver will feel comfortable giving as well as receiving honest, constructive feedback. A solid professional will learn which communication mediums work best for your family (i.e. email, phone calls, log book) and will adapt to those preferences. Many misunderstandings, overlooked issues and even serious health concerns will be avoided with proper communication.
4) Consistency and reliability are the "norm". While no caregiver can be expected to have a perfect attendance record, a true professional will demonstrate a commitment to your parent by consistently reporting on-time and ready to work. They will understand that seniors typically find last minute changes and disruption to a schedule stressful. They will seek to maintain your trust by recording their time accurately and make up time should they arrive late for any reason.
5) Demeanor projects confidence and competence. A professional caregiver will welcome visits by concerned family members and friends at any time. They are proud of the work they are doing and is pleased when others have the opportunity to observe them in action. They are intuitive and pick up on subtle changes in your parent that require attention. They ask intelligent questions and thinks out of the box to find solutions to every day care issues.
So...how is your parent's caregiver doing? Take time to observe the caregiver in action and reflect on both the strengths and weaknesses of your care provider. Avoid making snap judgments or decisions and leave room wherever possible for your parent's input. Of course, trust your gut and be sure to thoroughly investigate any serious performance or safety concerns.
Some families find themselves in a situation where a parent(s) live a great distance away and no one is available to drop in regularly to evaluate the care provider. In those situations, assistance is available by hiring a Client Advocate to conduct home visits and reporting. At Easy Living Services, our Client Advocates work to bridge the gap when busy schedules or geographic distance separates loved ones. Advocates serve as welcomed companions and "watchful eyes", supplying vital information on a loved one's care, condition, and emotional needs. Contact the caring team of professionals at Easy Living Services for more information on the Client Advocate program and our many other Home Care services.
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