Hope you are doing well today. Monday I posted about how the weather here in Michigan was so mild this winter, I spoke to soon.....Now it's snowed and by the weekend it's going to only be 9 yes I said 9 so winter is not done yet.
My post today about how to hire the right caregiver for your loved one was prompted by something I saw on TV Tuesday . Just as I was leaving the Adult Foster Home where my client lives I caught a glimpse of the show Right This Minute. The show was airing a clip about a caregiver who was caught on camera abusing her 94 year old dementia client. It is quite disturbing. I will provide you a link however I must warn you watching it is hard and very unpleasant.
Because this is not a random case unfortunately, it got me thinking about how do you go about finding the right caregiver. Although we try to care for our loved ones ourselves, that is often just not possible for us to do on our own, so we turn to outside help to accomplish the job. Wanting only the best for our loved ones we should use caution when hiring someone to come into our home. We all know we should do background checks and check references but here are a few things you may not think to do.
First of all, hiring through an agency is not always a guarantee that the person will be the best fit. Agencies do have their place and if you chose to use one that is your decision. However it is vitally important that we also screen the person we are allowing into our home, allowing to care for our mother, father or other family member. When I looked at video one thing really struck me, the way the caregiver was dressed. She was dressed in tight pants and a tight tank top both of which revealed more of her body than any modest person would dare to show. The way a person dresses says a lot about not only their attitude but also there demeanor in my opinion. This has nothing to do with being rich or poor, it has to do with pride and someone who does not take pride in themselves enough to dress for work, any work, in a clean and proper way is not someone I want to hire for anything and certainly not to care for my mother. So take at good look at the person, not just during the interview when we tend to put on our best but when they arrive for work, once they know they have the job. How are they dressed today?
Ponder this too... when considering a caregiver I always think of the old saying you get what you pay for. Now if you are hiring through an agency and paying a premium price you may think you are getting the best...think again. What you must remember is that while the agency is charging you 20.00 an hour the caregiver is no doubt getting little more than minimum wage. Now think do you really want someone caring for your loved one who makes the same wage as a person working at a fast food joint? I know I don't. While low wages does not always mean bad care, there are many dedicated caregivers out there that through no fault of their own have to take a low paying job, however being underpaid can lead to lack of commitment, frustration at often having to work two jobs to make ends meet and other factors that can increase the chances of poor care. For this reason I try to emphasis the need to pay a living wage. If you hire a private caregiver you can pay them directly and the money does not go through a third party like and agency. This means ( in most cases ) you will be getting someone focused on the job and not someone who may be angry due to feeling undervalued. This can be a win win situation for you also. You not only will pay less than an agency charges, but the caregiver will make more than the agency would pay.
Some people at this point will say all sorts of thing negative about private caregivers, but having been in this situation myself I can tell you it can be a wonderful experience for all. Your loved one gets to know their caregiver, they form a bond, this leads to attachment and better care and your loved one will respond better to someone who they know. If you need more than one caregiver to cover all the shifts they can work as a team, communicate with each other, knowing who is coming in next. And although an agency may say they will use the same caregivers for you case, that is not something they can guarantee due to the high turn over rate. If they try and tell you otherwise I assure you it just is not true.
If you want to hire a private caregiver, a great place to get applicants is care.com. They offer background checks references and also a payroll system so taxes can be taken out and all obligations on both you and your employees part will be covered. They really have a great system and I myself was hired by a lovely family from that site. The family I worked for set up a great system that worked flawlessly for them. I was hired as the main caregiver Monday-Friday and they had and agency that covered weekends and emergencies, such as when I was sick or needed a day off. You might want to try this combination that way you know you are covered.
Ask your caregiver to keep records, this will help you see what went on while you were not there. A notebook where daily activities can be recorded is of great help. Does not have to be minute by minute but an overall picture will help you see if there are any gaps in care that need to be addressed.
Now about the cameras. I am not a big fan of putting in surveillance cameras in to watch every move someone makes. It's a bit unnerving to me. However if you sense that something is wrong, like the woman who did the video for Right This Minute did, then yes by all means install one. That is your prerogative, do what you think is best. There are cameras everywhere these days so people should know by know that there is always someone watching.
I hope this information helps you in your search for a caregiver. There are many many wonderful ones out there just waiting to help you out. Remember you don't have to walk this journey alone, we are here to help along the way.
Here is a link to the video if you chose to watch it. Again it is hard to watch. http://www.rightthisminute.com/video/rtmtv-daughter-films-caretaker-attack-elderly-mother-Alzheimers
Until Next Time