Being a caregiver is one of the most important and honourable roles in the world. To be entrusted with the responsibility of supporting the care and development of a person who may be completely dependent or not have a voice should be cherished and respected.
But make no mistake. Being a caregiver is hard work. Whether it’s you, a family member or someone you hire, it doesn’t matter.
The role is often stressful, monotonous, physically and emotionally taxing, and any rewards are sometimes slow in coming.
In our experience of hiring caregivers for Ben, the three-year mark seems to be the time when the person needs a break – either some extended time off or a new set of responsibilities.
We try to be sensitive to burnout and making sure they are supported themselves so they can keep bringing their best every day.
This last point is the key. Ben (or your child) deserves to have the right person supporting him every day, someone with the right mindset and energy level.
Never should caregiving be about just “keeping the lights on” and doing the bare minimum but it can slip into that place if you’re not attentive.
The list of personnel issues you can encounter with your caregiver are no different than those you’d see in any workplace.
As long as there are people and relationships involved, you will have disagreements and “bad” days.
Like any relationship, you have to work at it every day to keep it healthy.
It’s not always easy to recognize when that relationship is going downhill.
The change is usually very gradual, especially if the person has been with you for a while. You become comfortable with each other and give them the benefit of the doubt.
However, there are 3 telltale signs that you should watch out for that can indicate trouble is brewing with your caregiver.
Unfortunately, by the time you pick up on them, it’s often too late to fix.
The first sign is high absenteeism.
If they are constantly showing up late for their shift and not telling you, that can mean that they have lost interest. And a lack of interest in a caregiver role usually means it’s over.
There can be many reasons why they show up late. It may be caused by some new complexities in their personal life, things that they may not wish to share with you.
But at the end of the day, you need a caregiver who is reliable and ready to make your child’s day absolutely fabulous. So while it may be out of their control, they are no longer a good fit for the role.
Another component of absenteeism is excessive sick time.
Everyone gets sick from time to time, including your caregiver. And you certainly don’t want them showing up in your home if they have the flu or some other serious infection.
If your caregiver is too nonchalant with calling in sick, it often points to a lack of respect for how important the role is to them and the impact it has on you.
We had a person who called in sick 19 times in her first 6 months. The warning bells should have been sounding when she called in sick for her second shift.
The only reason we tolerated so many sick days was because we couldn’t train a new person fast enough so that it wouldn’t interrupt Ben’s school year.
Needless to say, we let her go once classes were finished.
The second sign is Attitude.
It’s only natural that the longer a caregiver is with you the more comfortable each of you become. If they get too comfortable with you, the lines can get blurred.
Sometimes this can translate into them being flippant, even arrogant. Or situations where they challenge your instructions or decisions in a confrontational way.
If they’ve lost respect for you as the employer, that’s often a difficult relationship to mend.
It is sometimes the case that persons with “attitude” are those who love to gossip and talk behind your back.
Or they nod in agreement but then do things their way when you’re not around which may not be the best for your child.
When attitude becomes a problem, it’s probably time to start the process of showing them out door.
The third sign is when you have become afraid to say certain things to them because you’re not sure how they’ll respond. This is a situation that you never want to find yourself in.
One of the great benefits of hiring a caregiver is to give you peace of mind that your child is well supported.
If you can’t approach them to discuss their support of your child without being afraid of the outcome, it’s time to look for another caregiver.
You need to feel empowered that you are always in control, and should never be afraid to exercise that control.
Remember, you have to live with your child for a long a time – your caregiver doesn’t.
I don’t want you to leave this post with all kinds of negative energy because bringing a caregiver into your life has huge benefits.
And there are lots of ways to build a thriving, healthy relationship with your caregiver, where these signs will never appear.
But we’ll leave that for a future post :)
In the meantime, if you want to learn more about how to build a thriving, healthy relationship with your caregiver, enroll in the Caregiver Support Formula training.
-- Mike --