You can avoid them
For some people with disabilities, caregivers can make living independently possible. The harsh reality of limited independence can really hit home when you have a bad experience with a caregiver. Conversely, a caregiver can sure question his or her career choices when dealing with a difficult consumer. One thing is sure: we all thank our lucky stars when we find someone who clicks. We asked consumers and caregivers what makes their relationships work. It all comes down to communication, trust and respect. This important relationship, like any other, takes time to build and shouldn’t be broken casually.
Write a Care Plan
This forms the basic understanding of the relationship. It’s your chief communication tool listing the duties and expectations including working hours, dress code, house rules and emergency plan. A solid care plan is your best tool for constructive feedback – on both sides.
Consumer: “You show up three hours late wearing an outfit more appropriate for Mardi Gras and reeking of cigars? Ummm, no.”
Caregiver: “Look, I’m a team player, but mowing the lawn is a bit too far.”
Spell out the House Rules
Is it ok for the caregiver to use a personal cell phone during work hours? If he or she answers the door, whom should be allowed to come in? Is ice cream alright for lunch?
Consumer: “I rely on you for my survival; it’s not ok for you to gab on the phone with your sister during your shift.”
Caregiver: “When I know where to put my bag, where I can put my lunch and who I should listen to in the household when I get conflicting direction, I can concentrate on giving great care instead of dealing with inconsistency.”
Is it ok to discuss politics? Is it ok for after-hours calls? How do you answer, “May I borrow…?”
Consumer: “Wow! New World Order … I get this is important to you, but it’s time for my meds.”
Caregiver: “I know you’re lonely; no one comes to visit. But, please don’t call me at home on my off-hours to chat.”
The predictability of a regular schedule (start, duration and ending time) makes life smoother for both parties. A healthy respect for the other’s time is one of the first clues as to how relations will evolve (or dissolve).
Consumer: “I understand that your ride didn’t show up on time, but could you please call or text me so I know what is going on?”
Caregiver: “I never want to leave you in the lurch, but I cannot stay late every day. Others depend on me too.”
Yep, it happens. The best way to reduce the potential for valuables to get misplaced or taken is to lock up medications, cash, jewelry, credit cards and banking information.
Consumer: “I HATE having strangers in my house! That necklace you took isn’t worth much – to anyone but me. My mother gave it to me.”
Caregiver: “Whenever anything goes missing, I’m the first person blamed. Usually it turns out that you forgot where you put it or your own family member took it.”
Intimacy, badly behaving pets or family members, caregivers bringing their kids to work in an emergency, giving out keys, handling shopping and errands – it’s impossible to address every situation that might occur before it happens, which is why a clear care plan, a healthy appreciation and respect for this relationship and clear, honest communications are a must.
Ability360 Health Care Services hires amazing caregivers. See our ad on page 29 of LivAbility Magazine’s 5th issue. To hire an Ability360 trained caregiver contact us at
Ability360 Home Care Services has an exceptional reputation in the community for its commitment to providing consumers with peace of mind and individualized care with well-trained staff who are caring, honest and reliable. Ability360 caregivers undergo 40 hours of training – far beyond CPR and basic first aid; these individuals learn a consumer-centered approach to caregiving that includes meal prep, equipment, transfers and alternatives to make grooming and hygiene safer and easier for consumer and caregiver. HCS works to match the needs of the consumer and the skills of the caregiver.
Reliance on a caregiving agency like Ability360 Home Care Services (HCS) can make some of these situations easier to navigate. An agency brings long-term professional experience and an unbiased point of view to the consumer/ caregiver relationship. An agency can act as a mediator and help with difficult situations or conversations while protecting both the consumer and the caregiver. Consumers can rest assured that the caregiver has been screened, vetted and trained, while caregivers have protections like worker’s compensation and Social Security benefits. What’s your experience? What advice would you give to both consumers and caregivers? We’d like to hear from you. Write to us at Editor@ability360.org.