There are good caregivers out there to help you. There are also many awful ones. If you had small children at one time, you were most likely very particular about selecting a babysitter for them. Caring for seniors is no different.
I have gone through six different caregiver agencies. If you are hiring, you have the best chance to get a good caregiver if you can offer them the same hours every week. I cannot do that. I need someone if I have grocery shopping to do or if one of my children needs to be driven somewhere. I cannot predict each week when things are going to come up so I get the caregivers who are either the new ones without regular clients or the floaters who pick up hours with clients such as myself. Money is an issue and I cannot afford to hire someone for hours when I do not need a helper.
I have met with and trained more than 100 different caregivers over the last four years. There have been a couple of amazing ones. There have been at least three occasions where I met a new caregiver and decided that I could not leave the house because they just could not be trusted. In those cases, I called their agencies to see if I could send them home early because they were not a good match.
One day, after giving my 30 minute training spiel to a new caregiver, I ran out to the grocery store. When I came home, my parents were in the house unattended and she was outside listening to her iPod by the pool. I had instructed her to never leave my parents unattended.
Dad is diabetic and mom is a high fall risk. I have only been in my own pool once because I am always caring for my parents or out running errands. When they go to bed I am too exhausted to get into the pool. I went into my bedroom and called the caregiver agency. I asked them to get her out of my house immediately, never send her back and not charge me for her awful service. They complied.
Another day, with a new caregiver, I came home to find her napping in my mom’s room and my mom was teetering around the house in her walker. She had just gotten out of the hospital and was especially weak. Again, went into my room, called the agency and asked them to remove the caregiver from my house.
One day I was called by an agency and they told me they had a new caregiver who I was just going to love. She was outgoing, a hard worker and would be a good fit for my mom. She came over, I trained her and went out to run errands. I was in the grocery store and I happened to see a Facebook status posted by the very caregiver who was at my house. She posted that she was very tired and bored and asked a friend to text her or send her a message to help keep her awake. Next she posted that she was feeling shaky and she should always remember to take her meds. I took pictures of her postings from my phone and texted them to her boss, telling her that this is a huge liability for her company because if my mom falls while the caregiver is asleep, there is evidence that this caregiver was perhaps not doing her job. She was reprimanded. On repeated visits I watched her sitting in my mom’s room via one of the video cameras I have stationed around the house (I tell the caregivers about these), watching videos on her phone and laughing to herself. She made no attempts to talk to my mom or find an activity for her. I don’t want to pay almost $20.00 per hour for someone to sit and entertain themselves. She was also constantly making phone calls of a social nature. She stayed with us until I found a replacement.
Some of the people in this line of work are wonderful. Some of them are an absolute nightmare. I now have two regular caregivers who are everything that you would want a caregiver to be; but only after four years of tying to find good ones.
The bottom line: exercise discernment as you would with babysitters for your own children!