If you think you might have found the right caregiver who's the ideal fit for your loved one's personality type, you're very fortunate. If they're qualified, kind and can meet your scheduling needs and accommodations it will feel like you've hit the lottery.
But, before you start doing a celebratory dance, just know that the trial basis you've set for their first few weeks will be a two-way street. Not only will your caregiver need to impress you with their skill set, integrity and bedside manner, you should put an equal amount of effort into pleasing them. Why? Because as boomers age, the current demand for caregivers is at an all-time high and it's projected to grow at 34% rate from 2019 to 2029, a rate much faster than the average for all occupations according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics - Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections. In the June 30, 2021 edition of the NPR article, it's reported that Caregiver Agencies are experiencing an all time low in caregiver availability, a crisis pre-pandemic and exacerbated by the pandemic. Sadly, seniors often wait for months for home health care. You may be paying your caregiver's agency a fee for their service, but your caregiver is also evaluating whether or not your needs, expectations and lifestyle will be a good fit for them. How well these factors sync up with their expectations will help your caregiver determine whether they will want to continue a working relationship with you and your care recipient. There are many components to take into consideration when it comes to striking a healthy balance of gratification on all three sides of this complex relationship. I just hired a new caregiver, Anastasia, for my mother whose main job is with another case. She sleeps at the client's home for the comfort and peace of mind of their daughter. Anastasia was assigned to us from a private agency and lives approximately 20 minutes away by car. Her shift with us is Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM and the agency requires a minimum of a 4-hour shift.
The most difficult parts of caring for my mother include:
• Helping her to stand and pivot into her chair without much help from her
• Dealing with her incontinence
• Her reliance on a strict routine
• Her inability to handle change
• Her need for sameness, meaning her chair location, her meals, her wake up time, watching specific shows on television
We've had the same caregiver, Darla, for well over a year and she's wonderful. When we lost one of the caregivers, Darla stepped in to fill the morning gaps. She also returned at night to put my mother in bed, as that is the hardest shift to fill.
Anastasia's arrival this weekend is a very welcome and much-needed break for Darla, who has been picking up the slack alone for quite some time. Yet Darla understands that I need to present this job to Anastasia as manageable and easy. Darla has a vested interest in making sure Anastasia wants to stay and doesn't leave due to too much work.
On Anastasia's first day, Darla came in to take her through the routine step-by-step process of caring for my mother and to answer Anastasia's questions. The agency provides notes, but they do not train their caregivers on each case as they aren't familiar with the details. It is ideal to model what needs to be done for your loved one or to have a caregiver do it to ensure the caregiver fully understands your loved one's needs and daily routine.
It's well worth the time and money to make sure the transition is done smoothly and properly. The idea is to show the aid exactly what to expect while talking through your own expectations. While getting to know their personality and their capability.
Tips for Your Aid's Smooth Transition Into Your Home
1. Exchange contact information. You may need to communicate with them outside of work hours or vice versa. One Sunday morning, Anastasia called to explain that unforeseen circumstances would delay her arrival time. At the time, it was great to know because my mother would be looking for her. Her need for routine made updates like this important information to know.
2. Be as flexible and empathetic as your situation allows. Once Anastasia arrived, she immediately got my mother together. I'd already helped out by setting up a few things that Darla wouldn't have time to do. I didn't want her to come in stressed and rushing and, most importantly, it was best for all three of us that my mother's routine wasn't disrupted.
3. Always make your caregiver feel comfortable. Once the initial work of getting my mother up and around was done, I offered food and a beverage to Anastasia. Later,she asked if she could take a nap. She'd only gotten a few hours of sleep between cases and was running on fumes. Focusing on the caregiver, my new teammate's needs, I encouraged her to rest to avoid burnout. Anastasia's conduct has already shown me that she's responsible, kind, and thoughtful about what she does. And I want her to stay. So it was a no-brainer.
4. Give your caregiver access to a supportive network or refer them to one, if possible. Darla and Anastasia exchanged phone numbers once Anastasia joined the team. Anastasia is ready and able to fill in other spots once my mother's needs grow. Anastasia mentioned a preference for overnight care. Although it's not something I need now, I'm hoping to fulfill that desire for her once I go on vacation later this year.
5. Treat your caregiver like a new hire. Roll out the proverbial red carpet for your new team member! Make them feel like they belong by showing generosity, inclusivity and gratitude from the beginning. The key to retention and happiness is to train them thoroughly, address their questions and concerns, and to openly share your expectations. Great communication goes a very long way.
6. Make it a priority to learn what's important to them. When it comes to caring for your loved one, don't you think knowing your caregiver's why is pretty important? Ask them why they're doing this. Find out how you can help them get more of what they want. Why? So you can get more of what you want!
7. Focus on what's important. Things happen.Delays will happen.Accidents
happen. In the entire context, you can choose to be upset about minor details or you can give your caregiver the grace they deserve. Focus on building rapport with them so they feel comfortable asking questions or bringing problems to your attention. Try focusing on the bigger picture of having someone with the right intention and integrity taking care of the person you love. When you do this, you will be much happier.
I'm in the business of taking care of my caregivers. Their happiness is a crucial part of my ability to preserve the life I want to have. They grant the time I need to work and take tor myself so I can be a whole, kind and functioning daughter. It's also important for me to keep my mother happy at home and restore the time I need to meet the needs I have tor living a whole, functioning life.
Caring tor your loved one may feel lonely at times.But you are not alone in this.