Is it time to switch my friend's in-home care provider?

3 answers | Last updated: Oct 02, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My friend is 86 years old and was diagnosed with Dementia almost shy of a year. We have had numerous problems with the in-home care provider. We have changed her companions 4 different times. If they are not bringing laundry from home, they "borrow a roll of paper towels", or whatever they see they can benefit from. The final straw was when the second care person arrived yesterday they decided to have WWF match in front of my friend and in her house. I am constantly asking them to leave her stuff alone because when the coffee has been in the same cabinet for 10 years, why the hell would you move it, especially with Dementia. And after confronting the supervisor come to find out he had told the cleaner to straighten everything up, which that is what she says when I start to express my ideas on what they are doing wrong. Do you think it's time to switch companies?

Expert Answers

As Founder and Director of Circles of Care, Ann Cason provides caregiving, consulting, and training services to individuals and public and private organizations involved in eldercare. She is the author of Circles of Care: How to Set Up Quality Home Care for Our Elders.

It does sound as if you need to change home care providers! You need a fresh start.
But remember this: Caregivers need something they often don't get. You can help by helping the caregiver. Create conditions for care, for gentleness, humor, compassion, energy, sympathy and tenderness. Caregivers may have been trained by their agency. However each one needs to be oriented into your friend's world. You need to meet her there. Introduce her to your loved one. Show her around the house. Show her where things are kept.Tell the helper how difficult the dementia has been for her friends and family. Give her an idea of what works for this old woman. Does she like coffee or soda? If you have time serve tea to the person who is coming to help. Converse. Show her where she can hang her coat or sit for a break. Offer some fruit for a snack. Discuss the food situation. Will she be eating meals with the client or should she bring her own lunch? Show the new caregiver where utensils are kept and expalin the importance of putting them back so your friend can find them. (This is a big issue in many troubles between elder and helper.) Even more important than the details: Is there some way to let her know that you appreciate her work as a caregiver to your friend. Then stay in touch. Use email. Visit for tea, not to be a watch dog. Can you and the helper take your friend out for an expedition together? Do something fun. I wish you the very best in learning how to create the conditions for care for both your friend and her helpers.

Community Answers

Jaybird69 answered...

Hey there, I appreciate the feedback, it has started the ball rolling in the best direction. But I have a second part to the original question. What exactly does the care-giving provider have to gain by trying so hard to keep the case when he walks in with egg on his face, in a matter of 5 minutes disrespects everyone with any say in the matter, and still acts like he was "not treated fairly". I am learning that anytime she wants something, other than groceries, which I knew was billed by the company, they just charge it. Is there a possibility he is marking up the amount causing for more out-of -pocket expense. I guess what I am asking is can he slide in a profit off of this and get it by the Money Guardian, because I know that the man accounting for the money is on top of his game, bar none. Simplified: What is to gain, what is to lose when a patient drops an agency?

Ann cason answered...

Changing home care providers is difficult on all levels. This work is not like working on an assembly line. Caring for old people is the front line of compassion. But it is hard to serve with loving kindness when you have so many issues of your own to work out. So how a business is structured is all important. It needs to be set up so that the caregivers, through respect and communication, create a team or a circle of care where the client and the helpers feel good.

Sometimes agencies lose track of what they are doing. Sometimes a bad apple spoils the whole basket. Sometimes a caregiver has a problem and takes it out on others. People who suffer from dementia are especially vulnerable. I can't judge. But 24 hours care is expensive. Losing a big care program is hard on an agency. It affects the caregivers and the supervisors. The supervisor is being exposed. I don't know if he is dishonest. But he feels like the vistim.

It makes me sad to see what may have started with good intentions, erode. Times of change are delicate. Spend time with your friend and try to set up care in a way that will be kinder. My book CIRLCES OF CARE: How to Create Quality Care for Our Elders, was written for family and friends who are working with frail loved ones. Ask, how can I care for these caregivers so they can care for my friend?