Unspoken Rules Between You and Your Caregiver – Do You Know Them

May 2, 2018 2

You have finally found a caregiver your mom loves and who seems to check all the boxes for experience and reliability. But, sometimes you feel there are little communication misses that tarnish the otherwise wonderful caregiver relationship.

You feel like your expectations are reasonable, and you can’t understand why little balls get dropped along the way. While the caregiver client relationship appears straightforward, each person’s needs vary. What seems like common sense to you might be completely wrong in another situation. There are unspoken rules between clients and caregivers. These rules are what allow you to set caregiver expectations but are you aware you may be breaking them?

Put it in Writing

No matter how small the task – put it in writing. In many home care organizations like ours, Green Tree Home Care, we create detailed care plans that outline every expected task. We then ask our Care Professionals to record there shift activity hour by hour every time they care for a client. They feel confident they understand the scope of care and we feel secure knowing all details are clear and we have appropriately set caregiver expectations.

That sounds like a lot of paperwork! It is – but when you write down the expectations and record what tasks are or aren’t accomplished you can easily address any discrepancies. You also have a legal record should you need to make a staffing change.

Avoid the Bait and Switch

You should create a scope of care plan BEFORE you hire a caregiver. Often people start the care conversation by saying: “I need someone to sit with my mom who has a little forgetfulness to make sure she gets breakfast and lunch.” Then, once care starts the duties start to pile on: wash the car-weed the roses-did I forget to mention mom has 7 cats-sometimes she bites when she gets upset.

Make sure you are very clear about what is required of the caregiver upfront. Caregivers may only specialize in one type of care. Companion caregivers may feel uncomfortable with transfers. Medical focused caregivers often avoid cases that require lots of cleaning support. The point – not every caregiver is comfortable with every kind of task. What you present as the scope of care in the beginning of the caregiving relationship should stay pretty consistent. If you need to make changes to the scope of care, have an open and honest conversation with your caregiver before making changes. If your caregiver is not comfortable with changing care responsibilities, you may need to find someone better suited to the new role. You can learn all about San Diego Home Care if you think you might need to make adjustments.

Professionalism Goes Both Ways

You have a lot on your plate managing your life and the care of your loved one. It is easy to get overwhelmed and caught up in all the moving pieces. It is important to remember that caregivers are people first who desire respect and support. Caregivers should not bring personal drama to work but it is YOUR responsibility to remember your loved one’s caregiver depends on you for employment and sustenance. Avoid changing the schedule often or canceling shifts. You want your caregiver to be reliable. They expect the same respect from you.

Communicate lateness if you are errand running with your loved one. You can’t always predict when the doctor runs behind or when the checkout line is backed up. But, leaving a caregiver to wonder when you and the client will arrive might cause frustration over time. If the caregiver arrives on time, but you do not, expect to compensate your caregiver beginning at the agreed upon start time. If your caregiver is a superstar she will appreciate your consideration and your ability to set caregiver expectations.

Don’t Be Stingy with the Praise

Caregivers don’t get into the business to make millions and live like the rich and famous. Most of them feel called to work with the elderly and disabled. Many caregivers supported a treasured loved one through illness, injury, and passing, and now want to support others in a time of need. Most people who receive care are on a fixed income and don’t have extra funds to share with caregivers. But, regular positive feedback and praise is sometimes all it takes to make your caregiver feel like a million bucks. Great caregivers don’t grow on trees. If you have someone you value, take the time to say so. A thank you card for a job well done, or an appreciation text after a difficult night makes a world of difference to your caregiver.

Wrap Up

Remember the caregiver/client relationship is founded on trust and excellent communication. As the leader of the care arrangement it is your role to set caregiver expectations. You can easily do this by making expectations very clear and in writing. Your awareness of the load you place on your caregiver and a willingness to plan for care together creates a partnership your caregiver will appreciate. Always act with kindness and integrity and you will attract like minded people.



  • john shamy

    June 17, 2021 at 3:20 pm

    My caregiver was my source of getting pain pills for my chronic pain. I’m 66 yrs old, retired and on a fixed income. Someone ripped off my meds and I had none and was getting sick and she would not talk to me at all, made some other people talk for her. I called my pharmacist asking her what to do and low and behold she told me- Your caregiver dropped you and all of your refills. That caregiver never made any contact with me none what so ever telling me she dropped me. She never told me or gave any reason why she dropped me, the pharmacist was the one that told me the reason, it was because my meds got ripped off and it was my fault for not taking better care of my meds so it was a breach of contract and now I’m going thru bad withdrawals for the last 6-7 days and she knew I had 2 heart attacks but did not care. Tell me what you think.

  • Jonna Overson

    August 5, 2021 at 8:00 pm

    Hello John,

    I am so sorry for your situation. I am sympathetic to your plight and recommend you reach out to your doctor. Since you are on a fixed income there may be care giving support through your state. I recommend you reach out to a local home care provider to see what resources are in your area.

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