Health care worker helping an elderly man

Home Care

Your Home Health Aid is about to start work. How can you help ensure this is successful partnership?

Tips on how to create a family/caregiver team.

It’s not uncommon to feel relief that your loved one has someone onsite who will ensure their safety and help them live comfortably at home. At the same time, it’s not uncommon for your loved one to be stressed and even resentful of this new presence in their life.

Families have a unique opportunity to ease this lifestyle change. It is important to help your loved one understand the caregiver’s duties and to act as a partner with the agency. At the same time, families have a unique opportunity to help the caregiver understand their loved one.

An agency caregiver should:

Observe routines and ask questions on preferences. It is key to ensuring the person you care for is on an even keel. Families can help ease this transition in the critical first weeks.

Help establish a routine with consistent break time, meal time and bedtime. It will keep misunderstandings down to a minimum.

Slow down when speaking to a senior and moving into their space. Even if you think you have slowed down enough, slow down even more.

If behavior seems out of the ordinary, let the RN or care manager or family know immediately. A UTI or low blood sugar, for example can cause unusual behavior and is dangerous.

The family should contact the agency when:

Emergencies happen and medical conditions change. The family should immediately notify the agency if there are schedule changes or changes in health information.

There is a change in insurance, payment information or family contact information.

If your loved one is having difficulty following instructions, let the agency know. The RN or care manager may have insight into possible causes. For example, they can offer a different solution for a finger prick if monitoring frequency for blood sugar levels need to increase.

To ease the transition for the caregiver and your loved one:

Since few people have employees in their home, it’s easy to assume you can ask a Home Health Aid (HHA) to complete any task around the house. But these are professionals who are hired to help with Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s). That means help in bathing, dressing, toileting etc. and light housekeeping. Light housekeeping does not include hanging curtains or shoveling snow. In fact, HHA’s are precluded from doing tasks that could cause injury like getting on a ladder to change a light bulb. Families can ease this misunderstanding with a list of resources like a handyman or an emergency contact that the agency care manager can call. If your loved one needs resources to help with pets or household repairs/snow removal/upkeep, please ask to speak with the care manager who can provide you with options.

Because HHA’s are involved in personal care, they are required to wear protective gloves. And it is the family’s responsibility to supply these gloves. Just as it is the family’s responsibility to purchase food for a live-in caregiver. Helping your loved one to understand why the caregiver wears gloves and how their license is at risk if they don’t, can help them feel more comfortable with the idea.

Live-in caregivers may be onsite 24/7 but they are not on call 24/7. Law mandates that a caregiver get eight hours of sleep and 2 hours for a break during that 24 hours. Helping your loved one to understand the caregiver needs to time take care of personal business and breaks to rejuvenate, can lead to a schedule that works for both parties.

Other policies mandated by State and Federal law include time and a half on holidays and payment of the government standard mileage rate if the caregiver uses their car to run errands or for doctor visits.

Adjusting to someone living in your home can mean adjusting cultural expectations as well. English may not be your caregiver’s first language. Helping your loved one to understand and appreciate cultural differences is important. It goes a long way in helping people to not discriminate in subtle and unrecognized ways.

If there is hearing or vision loss, guide the caregiver on how it impacts daily life and how they can help.

Help the caregiver to slow down to your seniors’ pace. An overview of how best to work with them on tasks like putting groceries away or where to put the water on the nightstand goes a long way to quickly settling into a routine.

The most important responsibility the family has to the caregiver, is to help them understand your loved one.  If an anniversary is coming up that may be difficult, tell the caregiver about the event of a loved one’s passing, a birthday or anniversary.

Finally, compatibility between your loved one and the Home Health Aid is important. Springpoint at Home RN’s and care mangers are uniquely qualified to help ease this transition. Just know that it takes a week or two to work out the kinks. Give it time. If it doesn’t seem to be working after a couple of weeks, contact your care manager or the scheduling coordinator and let them know your concerns. It may mean helping the aid to adjust or it may mean getting a new caregiver.

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