As the surgeon turned the monitor toward us, we were stunned. We were lost for words
16 screws & 28 rods, after 11 hours of surgery on her front, her face resembled that of Marge Simpson!
My immediate reaction was anger as he’d told us it would take 6hrs and just a couple of cages would be inserted in her back. He lied to us!
But then, “I stepped back” and considered the surgeon’s position.
My dear old Mom had no choice – she had to have the procedure for fear her already broken spine could slightly worsen and reach her spinal cord, rendering her paralyzed. If he told us nothing but the truth, we’d have worried out of our minds. And now, it was done, she was in ICU and being closely monitored as she came around from the anesthesia.
It would be two weeks recuperating in a private hospital room and then she’d head home.
Next up – Home Care and we were warned what could lie ahead!
The first step in hiring in-home care was to research, consult with, and select a reputable home care company. It’s a pretty unregulated world and many think with so many baby boomers needing care, that anyone can do it!
For me, looking after dear old Mom, this is where it started:
- a holistic approach to finding the right agency
I’m a strong believer in find out what people want and giving it to them. Never assume, just ask. But, always ask why, because the more you understand their reasoning the closer you get to their beliefs and values and the closer you’ll be to that total understanding and that true partnership.
But stronger still is my belief that most people don’t necessarily know what they want until you give it to them. We’re frequently in denial and unaware of the slow decline we’re in as we grow old. It takes a nurse to understand what may lie ahead and so I believe that first visit to evaluate our loved ones should be with a nurse – someone who can understand the medical complexity along with holistic demands.
They’ll offer foresight and intelligence on the road to recovery that a less experienced caregiver will not.
During that first evaluation, you’ll have a gut feeling and sure you should go with it, but equally write down exactly the service that’s been agreed and the name of the person they’ll assign to you.
- the evaluation & choosing
Once you have chosen a company, their care coordinator will typically set up an in-home assessment to meet you and your loved one and in my case, my Mom. From there, you’ll be given the opportunity to personally interview the recommended and maybe other prospective caregivers.
This is where you may need some help – you know, sometimes two heads are better than one. Bring over a friend or relative to interview them with you.
What do we look for?
Caregivers come in all different shapes, sizes and flavors! They deliver services in a range of ways. Ask them to talk through their experiences and have them provide you with some personal references and talk to those references. If your loved one has a pre-existing condition, such as dementia or diabetes, make sure that the caregiver you choose has experience working with these conditions. If meal preparation will be a part of their duties, ask them about the kinds of foods they enjoy cooking and if they are familiar with accommodating special dietary restrictions or requests.
How passionate are they about doing the very best job for their patients? what training have they been through? why did they choose this career?
Ensure they’ve undergone the necessary training and received proper certifications according to state guidelines.
My wife is in home healthcare and each day I hear of the worries that stay with her 24hrs/day constantly reminding me of how it is a passion for caregivers and nurses. It is this pursuit of helping us get better and feel better that drives the very best. My wife worries of the implications and of each illness/ailment and keeps checking things are happening that should be – she never switches off. The fine line between sympathy and empathy is often the hardest. Often the caregiver has to be tough to be kind for the recovery of the patient.
Caregiving is not for the faint of heart, and it takes a very special kind of person to choose this line of work as a career. One of the most important qualities to look for in a caregiver is patience—especially when seeking care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia. Ask about a trying experience they had with a previous client and how they handled it. Look for both composure and warmth in their answers.
It’s chemistry! Align values and beliefs. Cleanliness, tidiness, bringing value to each situation and adaptability.
The bond between a patient and their caregiver is very important. Empathy and attentiveness are crucial to fostering a trusting relationship with your loved one. They will be spending plenty of time together, and shared interests can make visits more enjoyable for both parties.
Look for someone who has good verbal communication and a positive attitude. Since they will be spending ample amounts of time with your aging loved one, you want them to be able to communicate well with one another, and with you. Your caregiver should assist in keeping your loved one calm and comfortable, while also keeping the lines of communication open with you and your family about any changes in their care plan or condition. Problem-solving is a huge part of providing care for another person and requires perseverance and excellent communication skills.
- Envisioning A Future
I believe strongly with modern medicine and technology, we’re being enabled to live far longer than we imagine. The number of centenarians is doubling every decade.
It’s not my time to jump aboard my soap box and talk about wellness and health and what we should be doing to secure our futures for enjoyment rather than being “propped up” with modern medicine. However, it is to refocus us on making the most of our years ahead.
Receiving the care to get you back on your feet and active means being active, eating well and of course maintaining a positive mental attitude. Receiving that care often needs that helping hand from your chosen caregiver.
No one is perfect and it’s always important with your caregiver to focus on what really matters. Here’s what I think makes a situation successful. This is what great home care services look like to me:
start of care
The evaluator, the supervisor should came out with the caregiver on the first visit. Together they review the care plan and how things would work in the home. Together they check the home environment is safe and equipped for the caregiver’s and patient’s needs.
Lots of questions asked by all and learning what’s important to the patient and why. It’s important to understand the important things to the patient, so expectations are set.
Setting a personalized care plan is next and you have to really think about this in detail. A great check list helps everyone. it sets expectations, it’s a reminder and it sets goals.
It’s a focus on a solution to improving the patient’s life. Knowing where the patient came from, what they used to do and what they want to get back too, along with a realistic strategy to get back there.
it’s a journey toward a solution
Nothing is perfect. It’s the caregiver’s role to explain they’ll make mistakes, but that is how they’ll learn the patient better. The quicker the mistakes are made, the quicker everyone will learn each other. However it’s the agency’s responsibility to solicit feedback in case the patient is otherwise focused and unable to pick up on those matters that help them toward a solution.
When you’re worried about your elderly parent, you want to get them help. But, sometimes that help doesn’t live up to expectations. Home care services should not only reduce your worries, but produce tangible benefits for your parent. Quality home care services can make a big difference. You might hit some bumps along the road, but they should help smooth your family’s path. Finding out how home care providers handle these various aspects of the process can guide you to the best choice.