The best way to find out what happened during an aide's shift is to look at his or her notes, since it's rare for a family caregiver to overlap with
an aide's shift and have the opportunity to speak in person each day.
During each shift, the aide should be taking detailed notes on the patient's mood, whether he or she took any medications, whether there were any memory issues going on, and so on. This isn't something that happens automatically; you have to request it from the aide or from the agency. It's important enough that I suggest putting it into your contract.
These notes can be handled in different ways. If you've hired an independent geriatric care manager, the care manager will likely supervise the aide and give you reports. If you hired your caregiver through an agency, the aide may give her notes to her supervisor at the agency, who then passes them along to you via e-mail. (This includes handwritten notes, which the supervisor can scan and e-mail to you.) Sometimes supervisors include the aide's notes with your bill.
It's important to get regular reports so you know what's going on and can catch problems early, refill prescriptions on time, or call the doctor to discuss dosages if the aide is reporting side effects. Also, in cases where your loved one is in conservatorship or in which you're trying to obtain guardianship, you'll need to have everything documented for legal reasons.
Be careful not to rely on your loved one to tell you how things are going. He or she may be confused and, if there's dementia, tend to minimize or confabulate.
Also, many older adults don't want to accept care. He or she may see it as a loss of control, might be worried about the cost, or might fear that family members will think he or she is weak and dependent. As a result, your loved one may make comments with the intention of proving that the care isn't needed. Or your loved one might not like the aide and say things to try to get her fired. That's why it's important to hear what's going on from the aide and not rely just on what you're hearing from your loved one. Be sure, too, to look at patterns rather than isolated incidents, to get the whole picture.