“I've lost my privacy,” the care receiver said. If you hired paid caregivers you have lost your privacy, too. You may get so comfortable with paid caregivers that they seem like members of the family. This is comforting, but it is best to have some rules for everyone to follow.
I learned this from experience. A year ago my husband's aorta split and he had three emergency operations. The third operation saved his life, but he had a spinal stroke, and his legs are now paralyzed. While I was confident about most caring tasks, I knew I needed help, and looked caregiving agencies. I chose an agency that suited us best and contracted for four hours a day.
While most days go smoothly, some caregivers have exhibited othersome behavior. That is why we have rules and our rules may help you.
1. Treat caregivers like you want to be treated. When the caregiver arrives we welcome her or him, and when they leave we thank them. We compliment the caregivers who come to our home.
2. Be specific. The caregivers that work for the agency we are using are allowed to do light housework. I keep a running list in my head of things that need to be done: vacuum area rugs, clean mirrors, dry mop the floor.
3. Leave your cell phone in the car. This is an agency rule, and it is a good one. Caregivers usually follow this rule, but one was constantly on the phone. I reminded him of the rule and he apologized for the error.
4. All mail is private. Looking at mail is an everyday task, and a caregiver may pick up your mail unconsciously. It is best to put confidential documents away before the caregiver comes.
5. Food is also private. A caregiver can feel so comfortable that she or he eats food on the counter. Although you would not begrudge them food, the caregiver should ask your permission first.
6. All questions do not need to be answered. Paid caregivers know some things about your loved one's medical history and want to know more. Some questions may cross the line and invade your privacy. Instead of answering these questions, you may reply in general terms.
7. Address problems. The John Muir Health website makes this point in its article, “Working With a Paid Caregiver.” According to the article, problems should be addressed immediately. “Provide positive feedback along with any criticism,” the article advises. You may thank the caregiver for a job well done, and add, “The next time, please take out the trash.”
8. Check accuracy of written records. Our agency uses a client journal. The caregiver checks off tasks, such as “comb hair.” There is space for extra notations, and some entries seem exaggerated. This is something I might have to address in the future.
As The Family Caregiver websites notes in its article, “Caregiver: Working successfully with Home Care Services,” some paid caregivers are really good and some are really bad. “Your responsibility is to determine whether their strengths outweigh their weaknesses in meeting your loved one's needs,” the article advises.
Caregiving guidelines benefit you, your loved one, and paid caregivers. Days go better when everyone is on the same page.