Hiring a caregiver to help with your loved one can be an immense relief in the long run; but at first, you may find it slightly stressful. Introducing someone new into your life is a stretching experience, and an adjustment phase is normal and expected. With a little time, communication, and patience, you’ll find that your in-home caregiver becomes a welcome support and relief for your family.
If you’re hiring help for a loved one, whether it’s an elderly parent, a child, a disabled partner, or a recovering relative, it’s important to start things out right. Explore our tips for how to have a successful first day with a new in-home caregiver.
Discuss the Caregiver’s Arrival
Before your caregiver arrives, speak with the person in your home who will be receiving care. Depending on their level of cognitive understanding or their memory capabilities, you may have to simplify your explanation or repeat it a few times.
Talk about the person who will be coming over. Express excitement about their arrival and explain how helpful they will be. Describe each task that the caregiver will be performing so that the person receiving care knows what to expect.
You may also want to clarify what the caregiver is not responsible for. It’s important to begin the new caregiving relationship with open communication about responsibilities and boundaries.
Give a Tour of the Home
Your caregiver should have visited the home before, but if for some reason that hasn’t happened, take a few minutes to familiarize them with the layout of the home. Explain any quirks your home may have, such as hot water and cold water knobs reversed, or a fan that doesn’t work, or similar challenges.
If you don’t anticipate having enough time to give the full tour before you leave, write out the instructions or information on sticky notes. You can place these on cabinets, the fridge, the sink, or other areas where the caregiver may have problems or questions.
Talk about Family Preferences
You’ll also need to review house rules or habits that you may or may not have covered in a previous meeting. These items that aren’t necessarily directly related to the care plan—they’re more like preferences. Ideally, your caregiver should be eager to learn your family customs so he or she can make everyone more comfortable within the care plan.
Some in-home care experts suggest beginning with a basic list of top five preferences for the caregiver, and then once those become familiar, you can continue on from there. For example, if you want people to sanitize their hands or remove their shoes when entering the home, let the caregiver know. If you want the blinds left closed or open, verbalize that preference.
Keep in mind that your caregiver won’t know or remember all the details and habits of your home right away. It could take a few weeks for your caregiver to become accustomed to the way your family does things, and that’s all right. After all, the caregiver’s primary responsibility is to ensure the safety, health, and wellbeing of your loved one. The other elements of function within the home are important, but not as vital as that primary goal.
Try to Stay Flexible
On that note, remember to allow for some flexibility. The care plan you’ve developed is a guide, but as the new caregiver evaluates your loved one’s needs from a fresh perspective, the plan may need to change a little.
If small alterations smooth out the process and enable a better bond between caregiver and receiver, allow those changes if at all possible. The new caregiver may not relate to your loved one the same way you do; and while this can be jarring at first, it can also be a wonderful thing.
Sometimes the introduction of a new person into your loved one’s life can be rejuvenating and refreshing. Other times, it may be an exhausting experience for your loved one until they adjust and accept the new presence as normal. Your loved one may need extra rest and additional reassurances of love during or after the first few shifts with a new caregiver.
Showcase Your Loved One’s Personality
The new caregiver doesn’t know all the aspects of your loved one’s personality like you do. Maybe your elderly parent accomplished wonderful things throughout their life, won awards, built companies, or pursued interesting hobbies. Feel free to share those details with your in-home caregiver!
Getting that full, colorful picture of your loved one is so valuable to a caregiver who’s working on developing a bond with a patient. With those details and facts in mind, the caregiver will be better able to engage with your loved one. They’ll have more conversation topics to explore, and who knows—maybe they will discover a whole range of shared interests that they can discuss!
A good caregiver recognizes that the people in his or her care have full lives, rich personalities, and intrinsic value. They are worthy of joy, health, love, and empathy, and part of the caregiver’s role is to enable those beautiful things. No disability or age limitation can define who a person is! The right caregiver will take a holistic approach to your loved one’s needs, going beyond the basics of physical care and ensuring a better quality of life overall.
Express Concerns Clearly and Kindly
If you notice an issue with the method of care, or if you’ve perceived a conflict or miscommunication occurring, sit down and chat with the caregiver. In most cases, such little bumps are easily navigated with clear, open communication and a positive attitude of partnership.
Don’t feel obliged to keep quiet out of reserve or politeness! Your caregiver welcomes feedback and wants to know how to improve the caregiving process and customize it to your family. Most caregivers will want to do a debriefing of sorts after the first shift, to get your opinion on how things went. If the caregiver doesn’t suggest a brief review of the day, feel free to mention it so you can dialogue honestly about any struggles or issues that may have come up.
Review the Care Plan
Following that first day, the care plan may need to be tweaked; and as the weeks or months go on, further adjustments may be necessary. It’s important to tell the caregiver if you’d like changes to be made. If your caregiver approaches you with suggestions, listen and consider the ideas. Sometimes, rather than rejecting the changes immediately, you may want to think them over for a while. A day or two of consideration may help you understand why the caregiver is suggesting that change.
On the first day with a new caregiver, clarity and kindness are vital. Respect your new caregiver’s expertise while being honest about your own needs and preferences, as well as those of your loved one. With a mutual sense of respect and openness in place, the way is clear for a healthy bond to grow between the caregiver and your loved one. And you’ll find that you feel a stronger sense of partnership and support as you and the in-home caregiver work together to ensure a wonderful quality of life for those you love.
Author: Community Home Health Care