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.
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.