Choosing the Best Caregivers for Your Parents

A common question from clients is “How can we make sure we get the same caregiver every time? My parents are very particular and dealing with new caregivers is stressful.”

It’s a great question. It reminds me of the story about Helen Keller and her faithful teacher Anne Sullivan. The intimate bond that allowed a deaf and blind girl to overcome her disabilities and go on to graduate from college. It’s inspiring and something all caregivers aspire to, however one of the reasons it’s so inspiring is that it is an extraordinary story. There are countless other success stories that involve teams of people and the consistency of the family, but it’s not easy. Even Anne Sullivan must have wondered if her $25 a month plus room and board was worth it at times.

Turnover is common

Turnover in the caregiver industry is common. There are a few reasons for this. There are company issues like benefits, low pay, and reimbursement. There are work conditions that include hard to handle patients and unclear directives. There are personality issues between management and co-workers and clients. On top of that are personal issues.

Is it any worse than other industries? Statistics say no, these are issues that permeate any service industry, but it’s hard to cite statistics when your parent is struggling with change. Your best bet is to get ahead of the turnover challenge by preparing for it. 

Questions to ask your agency

Start by asking your agency two key questions. If turnover is common in the industry, you want to deal with an agency that acknowledges it.

Question 1: How do you handle turnover amongst your caregivers?

You’re listening for an honest acknowledgement of the issues. If you have the money to invest, you can get a 24/7 care from live in nurses for around $20,000 a month, but if you don’t have that money to spend, make sure the agency you hire knows how to deal with turnover.

Question 2: If the caregiver that my parent loves suddenly quits, what happens?

Their answer here will tell you a lot about how the operation is run. Do they cover 100% of their shifts? Do they have people ready to take over if someone gets sick or can’t work?

Nothing is perfect. Make sure your agency has contingency plans and preventative actions in place to make sure your loved one is cared for.

What to do when turnover happens

And what do you do if turnover happens? Start by getting your parent prepared in case of an emergency. Using a much lower stake example, here’s what psychologists recommend when a child’s caregiver needs to be switched.

  • Acknowledge that it’s happening but don’t make a big deal about it. If you’re happy with the solution, you have a better shot at getting your parent through the change.
  • Prepare for a transition. If your agency doesn’t have a list of the 10 most common questions every new caregiver is going to need answers to (like where is the toilet paper?) then you should have one ready. Welcoming the change makes it go smoother.
  • Prepare for the new caregiver with your parent by involving them in the change. It’s hard to do because they’re your parents, but it pays off with new caregiver acceptance

There will probably be turnover with your caregivers. The more you can do to prepare for it, the easier the transition.

Conclusion

It’s okay to wish for a Helen Keller/Anne Sullivan relationship between your caregivers and your parents. Make sure your caregiver agency is aiming for it, even if it’s a once in a lifetime occurrence. Most agencies will aim for the stars to make sure we hit the moon. For example, to combat turnover, we do several things.

  • We keep our wages very competitive.
  • We try very hard to treat our caregivers with respect and let them know they are valued.
  • In addition we have several different ways our caregivers can earn extra money if they want.

We treat each caregiver as an individual with unique qualities to keep our company successful.

If we can be of assistance as you search for caregivers in Omaha, please give us a call.