When your parents hire a caregiver, this usually comes as a big relief. However, the real concerns might be yet to come. Now you have to figure out how to work with the caregiver and deal with any issues that come up. With some simple tips, you can ease this process and develop a successful relationship.
Our Experts Share: Tips for Successfully Working with Your Parents’ Caregiver
Set the foundation for a good relationship.
Start with the hiring process. Even if you feel like it’s a crisis, don’t be hurried through this decision. You can always put something temporary in place while you do your homework.
For many reasons, we recommend working with a quality home care agency to hire a caregiver. Take the time to get to know the agency and how they handle things. What’s their hiring process? How will they match your parents with a caregiver? What do they do to ensure it goes well? If you hire on your own, think through how you will manage this person who is now your parents’ employee.
The caregiver relationship is a two-way street. To set your caregiver up for success, they need to know the expectations. Give them background and information. Explain how your parents like things done. Let them know the duties and details. At EasyLiving, this is done through our care planning process. It is built around client needs and our Life History & Daily Routines Questionnaire. The care plan serves as a guide to provide the best care for your parents.
Be proactive. Get and give feedback.
Follow up. See how it’s going. Your parents may not tell you there’s a problem. Nine times out of ten you first hear of it is when they’ve decided it won’t work. It’s often too late. Sometimes there’s something small or very “coachable” that could be improved.
We have yet to meet a caregiver who didn’t want to do a good job with their client. Our experience tells us that caregivers want feedback. After their first shift, start by asking what the caregiver thinks went well and how things can improve. Sometimes in our initial visits/calls we’ll realize the supplies in the home aren’t adequate. Or, the client really needs certain equipment. Show you value their input.
Then follow up with your feedback. When you work with an agency like EasyLiving, they can handle this for you. Our process is to call the client after the first shift and get that feedback. We also call the caregiver after the first visit to see how things went and where things can improve. Our job is to ensure we built a good match. Feedback is the essential ingredient to a good caregiver relationship.
One of the tough things that happens with caregiver-client relationships is caregivers becoming overly influential. If they do something to take advantage of the situation (or just aren’t doing a great job), your parents refuse to make any changes. All kinds of horror stories result, especially when you don’t have an agency involved to help. Staying in touch from the start provides a buffer. It lets the caregiver know you’re involved and you care. You can pick up on early warning signs. If you don’t live nearby, consider hiring a geriatric care manager to do regular visits.
Once you’ve established a good foundation, things may seem to run on autopilot (hopefully). That’s why the upfront work is so important. But, with aging parents, things will change. You may need to adjust the care plan. They may need more care. It may be time to update the home or purchase new medical equipment. Care plans are living documents and should always be updated. At EasyLiving, we update them in real time as feedback comes through.
Don’t wait for a crisis. Be proactive in updating according to real-time changes. Also, even if you don’t work with a care manager regularly, consider a periodic assessment. Prevent problems by having an expert spot check.