From time to time, careseekers need caregivers who provide home care services. These can range from helping mothers with newborn babies or even staying overnight to care for an elderly loved one. But this type of service delivery comes with its own challenges and issues, beyond the usual issues of cultural, age and gender differences. We’d like to share this article to help you better understand the challenges faced by caregivers.
The Stranger In Your Midst
I’m sure many caregivers have experienced this before. Sometimes, people are simply uncomfortable with a new person within the household. The consequences can be severe – caregivers sometimes end up suffering verbal, physical and psychological abuse from their charges if this isn’t handled properly. There are many causes for care recipients, such as the elderly, to feel unhappy about receiving home care. One cause is social perception – it looks as if the family is unwilling to provide the sort of care and help that the caregiver is being hired to do. Another cause may be inherently personal – the patient simply has that sort of personality that makes it difficult for home caregivers to work with them. Sometimes, in the absence of either factor, other things can happen to create such problems. Dementia or other illnesses may affect mood and personality, and medication can also cause complications. This is why when you are arranging for home care – whether as a careseeker or caregiver – the patient’s psychology and condition need to be considered in order to find the best way to achieve a “soft landing”. Of course, the relationship should also not be allowed to get too close – this can have equally bad consequences, and even the most intelligent people might not be immune to such problems (Professor Stephen Hawking’s relationship and marriage to Elaine Mason is a huge example).
Revolving Doors and Backups
Do you prefer having one dedicated caregiver for the long term, or do you prefer having a care company that may send a different caregiver to the patient each week? There are pros and cons to both caregivers and careseekers. From the patient perspective, certain light, minor issues can easily be dealt with on a revolving-door basis but there will be times when a patient requires the sort of insight and understanding that only a dedicated caregiver can provide – but caregivers need rest too, and cannot be expected to be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week for months on end. Caregivers, like all other people, can get sick, and may take days off, and celebrate public holidays. Therefore, even if there is no revolving door, there is still a need to arrange for backup or relief – not corporate slavery or leaving the careseeker in the lurch just because it’s Christmas. For these reasons, when caregivers and careseekers are trying to match up with each other, it makes sense to cast a wide net to ensure the right combination of the right people are found for the right job.
Running Helter Skelter
Is the caregiver expected to provide a taxi service? Does the careseeker require it? This is not an idle question – some home care patients need to be regularly ferried to and from hospitals for checkups or therapy, and transportation requirements and options may have to be taken into account. It is one thing to live very near good public transportation or have a budget to arrange for taxi booking. However, there may come a time when what is needed is a home caregiver with a driver’s license. The patient’s travel requirements are no trivial matter since a delay can sometimes be far too costly.
Not A Maid
A careseeker’s medical needs may extend to being chauffeured to the hospital, being bathed and washed, and being spoon-fed. However, people sometimes forget that caregivers are not maids, and may end up expecting them to perform domestic chores. This is an unenviable situation that happens when people are obsessed with the dollars and cents and see everything as a transaction. Caregivers should be careful and realize that the job interview goes both ways – it is as much for caregivers to screen out potentially-abusive careseekers, as it is for careseekers to screen out problem caregivers. Besides, who knows what sort of tax incentives or care-related rebates might be lost or jeopardized if the caregiver undertakes more work than they should? All this would depend on your national laws, of course.
Paying for Quality
Does the careseeker require specialized nursing or pharmaceutical assistance?
Does the caregiver have the training and ability to prepare and administer medications under a complex regimen? The greater the professional demands on a caregiver, the higher the potential cost. This is a fact of the market that both sides need to think about. What the market does not say, is that in a way, the worse off a careseeker is, the more likely they need a caregiver who is more diligent and/or intelligent. This has a potential downside – fraud and elder abuse sometimes come from the most dogged and determined of caregivers, whether formal or informal. Even now in Singapore, we have an informal caregiver who got struck out of a widow’s massive will, is facing numerous criminal charges, and is contesting the authorities’ legal actions on all fronts. Caregivers, on their end, may also face the challenges of dealing with sophisticated customers. Some care seekers may be poor and uneducated. Others may well be retired hospital department heads who might not hesitate to make that one phone call to a highly-placed friend… hopefully to praise and not condemn the caregiver.
This can be crucial, even if you do this merely by telephone.
This is the chance for parties to clarify mutual expectations and limits, what’s in and what’s out, and also look at patient history and caregiver experience and references. What are the caregiver’s skills? Besides having a driver’s license, does the caregiver know how to transfer a wheelchair-bound patient in and out of cars? Does the patient require special types of food and must the caregiver be able to cook or prepare them? Will you be scheduling a live meeting to see how the caregiver and patient interact?
Well, that’s all for now. We hope this helps at least a little bit more in understanding that matching up a caregiver to a careseeker can seem to be an easy task, but it really isn’t, and it pays to invest the effort early to prevent problems happening later.