When I first began writing these articles five years ago, I was asked by my Editor if I would have enough material to sustain them? Today, I write for six newspapers and I’m a long way from running out of valuable information to share with you. Often my topics are driven by situations and circumstances that occur to those I’m working with as a consultant or Support Group Facilitator. A subject or problem comes up and it becomes very clear to me that this person is not the only one facing this challenge, so let’s help some others.
It is with that goal in mind that I want to talk about how important it is that you do your homework if you have decided to secure the services of a home care agency. First, let me commend you for recognizing that you need help and are willing to accept it. Too many don’t and too many aren’t. But now, it’s time to do your home work.
There are a number of these agencies available to you and just like any other business, some are clearly better than others. Talk to families in your support group that may have used this type of service (you are in a support group aren’t you?), talk to professionals in the industry to see whom they would recommend. Most assisted living and nursing home professionals would welcome the opportunity to help you navigate this path and trust me when I say, they know who the good guys are.
Once you’ve identified a Home Care Agency or two that you want to contact is when your work should really begin. Put together a check list of things that should be important to you and outline your house rules. How are their language skills? Will your loved one be able to understand someone with a heavy accent? Are they local or do they live 50 miles from you? Will you have the same caregivers/aides or will you be entertaining a long line of strange faces that will never really connect with your loved one? Make sure they understand that they are not to watch television shows that they want but the ones that will keep your loved one in their “happy place.” I recently heard of a family that learned their caregiver had their loved one watching “50 Shades of Gray.” In case you don’t know, this film has been described as an “erotic romantic drama about a sadomasochistic relationship.” Not exactly ideal viewing material for someone with dementia. Warn them about excessive cell phone use including making phone calls to friends and family and having long conversations in a foreign language as they sit next to your loved one. For that matter, they should only use english around your loved one if that is their primary language. I once visited a family member of mine in a community at the other end of the State. All of the serving staff was from The Dominican Republic. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that but all of them speaking a foreign language over the heads of the residents in the dining room is rude and wrong. The most important question to ask is have they received training in working with individuals with dementia? If not, move on! I don’t care how warm and compassionate they say they are. When you’re dealing with dementia, the rules change. Do they know they need to feel safe, that they can’t reason with one who has lost that ability to reason and it’s the illness that’s responsible for their behaviors? Your house should be no place for “on the job training.”
Home care agencies are no different than any other business. They’re only as good as their people. Don’t be afraid to hold them to as high a standard as everyone else in your world.
Questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org Remember, Join the Journey.