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Your Hired Caregiver is Precious

Treat her well and you won’t have to worry about turnover


Is that your new caregiver at the door?

You can’t help but be apprehensive about the nursing assistant sent by the home care agency, despite their reassuring description on the phone and their strong recommendation. They said Gloria was her name, and they described her to the point where you felt sure she was a nice person and a good caregiver. In addition, her references had come in very good, with one of her past clients mentioning a virtue in particular that Gloria will absolutely need with her mother –that of patience.

It wasn’t so much her that you were worried about, it was more your Mom who might simply reject her out of hand. We all know how some of our aging parents at times have a way of turning their frustrations against those on whom they depend the most, including us children and caregivers.

So who is this Gloria?

Will you like her and, more importantly, will Mom tolerate, or even accept her? You have to know that handling the frustrations of our elderly is something experienced caregivers are quite accustomed to. In other words, they may surprise you with how sturdy they can be. An experienced at-home senior care nursing assistant will, in all probability, come across situations where the care recipient at first doesn’t want anything to do with her, only to relent a day or two later and become totally accepting and friendly.

Gloria is most likely a Certified Nursing Assistant, or a CNA, as she would more commonly be known. CNAs are the lifeblood of at-home elder care agencies, utilized wherever “hands-on” care is necessary, such as grooming, bathing, toileting, ambulating and such. In addition to their “hands-on” chores, they do the light housekeeping, meal planning and preparation and keep their care recipients safe and in good spirit.

Caregivers in the past and now

In the old days, say some 50 to 100 years ago, one might have expected housemaids and housekeepers to have doubled up as caregivers. It is important to understand however that Gloria would not be anything like that. She would have graduated high school and then enrolled in a community college or a nursing academy where, at a cost of approximately $1,500 in fees, and in a time span of 6 to 8 weeks of studies and practicing skills, she would have received her certification and been ready to be registered as a CNA on the official Nurse Aide Registry of her state.

Gloria would thus today typically be a proud, qualified, agency-scrutinized, certified, accredited, insured, TB immunized, experienced woman, frequently also on her way to further nursing studies. She would have a boyfriend or husband, children, a life away from your home and a car for mobility. Most important of all, she would have a keen sense of self-respect.

Guidelines for gaining Gloria’s devotion

A good start naturally is to ensure that all members of the family –that naturally includes Mom- treat her with respect and consideration. Don’t forget, we already mentioned that she would be experienced in dealing with seniors, so that all she would need from you is a little support. Here are other practical tips:

  • Turn your parent’s into a generous household: that does not involve money or other gifts (you would be well advised to clear birthday and Christmas cash gifts through the agency). Instead, have some regularly replenished snacks and sodas available, particularly if she is going to work 8 hours or longer each day.
  • Privacy is important: Give your caregiver some privacy every now and then during her work day. Privacy means a corner of her own for 15 or 30 minutes at a stretch where she can re-energize herself.
  • Daily routine: Set your parameters for what you would like Gloria to do on a daily basis as well as periodically. Granted that she will use her discretion, but still, she would appreciate going through the list with you.
  • Your caregiver’s boss at the agency: That would be the Care Coordinator to whom the caregiver reports at least two or three times a week. Keep the Coordinator in the loop, and don’t conspire with Gloria to do anything that you know the agency frowns upon.
  • A pat on the back works wonders: Nothing like supportive relationships to bring peace into the household. Your caregiver would love to be treated as part of the family, and for her hard work to be recognized.

Caregivers like assignments close to where they live, with schedules (number of hours) that suit them best, and caring for kind care recipients who appreciate all the comforts that the caregiver brings. It behooves you to always ask the agency you’re dealing with about their proposed caregiver’s “preferred” schedule, and where she lives. If you can have satisfaction at those two levels, the third factor is in your hands –and your parent’s.

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