Often, older adults and their families hire caregivers while in a crises. The caregiver solves an immediate need for assistance and offers much needed relief. Because of the intimate nature of the caregiving job, older adults and their family members often forget that the caregiver is indeed an employee and they need to set clear expectations about their duties. Whether the caregiver is new or has been with your family for a long time, it is very important to check in with them, set expectations and hear from them what their challenges may be.
Agency employed caregivers likely have a “case manager” who can help define expectations and provide ongoing supervision to the caregiver. They act as a buffer between you and the caregiver so that you do not need to be responsible for having difficult performance related conversations. If the case manager is not checking in with you periodically, especially in the beginning, they should be. Call them and let them know how things are going. Share with them your perspective on the following:
Is the caregiver on time? Is the caregiver open to suggestions? Is the caregiver a compliment or a detriment to the rhythm of the household? Does the caregiver have a positive attitude and get along well with the client and other people in the household. Are things better when the caregiver is there? Is your loved one being cared for in a way that makes you feel at ease and peaceful? Do they seem to have a routine and know how to be helpful during down time? Does the caregiver respect your family’s privacy and give you space when you need it? Does the caregiver allow the family to help their loved one when they wish to? Does the caregiver allow the client to do as much for themselves as possible or do they “take over” to get it done faster. Does the caregiver respect that they are in your home or do they seem to “move in” whenever they arrive for their shift? Does the caregiver have sufficient skills to meet your needs?
All these questions also apply to caregiver that you may privately employ. In that event, the job falls on you to properly supervise the caregiver and ensure that they continue to be a good fit for your need. Since elder care is a dynamic season, it may be that the caregiver hired in the beginning is no longer suitable for your current need. The older adult’s needs always take priority, even if you’ve had a caregiver for many years and feel close to them.
If you are not comfortable with this role or feel overwhelmed, I can be of service as your Geriatric Care Manager. Managing your caregiver’s performance does not need to be as formal as what occurs in the a corporate setting: no annual reviews or written performance appraisals. But there does need to be a process of checking in with the caregiver routinely about how they are doing. Ask them about their challenges. If there has been a recent change of condition with the older adult, ask them how they are coping and what new strategies they are using to provide care. Ask if they have any suggestions for equipment needs or other tools of the trade. You will learn so much from their responses and from their attitude when having this conversation. If the caregiver is open to the dialogue, it is clear that they feel part of the team. If you are getting resistance, there may be something else going on the requires your attention. You may need to dig deeper. In this event, as your Geriatric Care Manager, I can help you sort through strategies and options.
If you are struggling with a caregiver situation or want to stay on top of the caregiver program you have in place, I would love to hear your story. Please get in touch with me here.