I have been working lately on a family genealogy project, filling out the family tree and populating it with information gathered through research. I came across one relative who sought assistance in his old age by living out his final years in an "old soldier’s home". I do not know what kind of care he received there, but I'll bet he would have had interesting stories to tell. I recently read a story about Roy Campanella, a Hall of Fame baseball player paralyzed in a car accident. His book mentioned the constant turnover of help, and the fact that a number of his caregivers stole him blind.
In-home care today is provided by companies with soothing names such as Visiting Angels, Heaven at Home, In Home Companions, We Love Old People, and others. Ads for these companies depict attractive, caring employees virtually doting on the every need of their charges. Caregiver and patient are shown laughing and engaging in easy conversation. The intimation is that if you hire this firm, you will be served by stable, long-lasting caregivers with warm personalities.
As is usually the case, reality does not live up to the hype. Most of these firms do send out bonded employees. This helps mitigate the concern of worrying for your wallet, even though some of the caregivers certainly cause you to clutch it a little tighter. Almost every caregiver we have worked with says they want to become a nurse, but in our experience less than 2% achieve that goal. Like the populace at large, caregivers have a wide array of personalities. Some actually live up to the hype in the ads, while others… do not. Conversations are always interesting, ranging from the latest vacation they took, to a boyfriend who was shot in the head due to some unexplained circumstance. (True story) Either way, they will likely not become a member of your extended family, lasting on average about five weeks. You generally find out about the change when a newly hired individual you have never talked to before calls from the agency.
Hiring a home health aide directly is an option to going through a service, as long as you don't mind taking on the role of employer and part-time accountant. There are many tools today which make the work Roy Campanella had to go through much easier. These include computer searches to conduct criminal background checks, websites such as the Texas Employee Misconduct Registry, and those that reveal if your potential hire is a sexual predator. I'm not sure what Roy would have thought about that last one. The only website that will not be of help is the one which identifies prospects who are mature, caring, easy-going conversationalists who are studying to be a nurse.
In truth, the home health care field is a difficult one for both those who provide the services as well as those who utilize them. Without their services, many elderly and disabled people would likely not be able to remain in their homes. So, it is best to keep this in mind every five weeks or so, and it won't hurt if you bone up a little on your nursing classes!
Noticeably absent when we all left rehab was the instruction manual for dealing with the myriad of situations we would find ourselves in. Ask This Old Quad articles serve to fill in that vacuum, because we have all developed tricks of the trade that we believe would be valuable for others. Share your ideas and experience with us at firstname.lastname@example.org