So, you’ve decided to enlist an in-home care agency to help your relative manage day-to-day tasks. If your loved one has been struggling, this is a great decision. But as the gatekeeper between the agency and your relative, it’s your job to make the transition easier and set the home care agency and their managed caregiver up for success. This generally boils down to effective communication.
Begin By Setting Clear Expectations
Sit down with the agency and discuss the type of care that’s needed from the agency caregiver. Will the caregiver be expected to be on call overnight? How many errands and outside tasks does your relative need done each week? And what type of medical considerations does your relative have that may affect the caregiver’s ability to complete these tasks? Line out each of these issues ahead of time so there are no surprises.
Create a “Personality Diagnosis”
Nobody knows your relative better than you. If your loved one is struggling with common issues like dementia or other types of mental degeneration, you’ll be well aware of how erratic their moods can be. Let the in-home care agency know about these issues ahead of time by creating a personality diagnosis for them:
· Pertinent medical issues;
· Day-to-day moods;
· History of depression, aggression, or confusion;
· Common problems that may trigger mood swings.
You won’t be able to predict everything, but this type of rundown can be a great way to prepare the agency and agency caregiver on what to expect.
Keep Information Readily Available
Naturally, you’ll want to keep all necessary information available to the agency so that they can communicate with the managed caregiver:
· List and schedule for medications;
· Standard and emergency contact numbers;
· List of food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances;
· Medical providers and nearby clinics;
· Preferences for food or activities;
· Unique challenges or issues affecting your loved one.
Particularly in the early stages of your in-home agency and caregiver relationship, these resources will help get the agency and managed caregiver familiar with your relative and ease the transition for both sides.
Be Up Front About Your Concerns
You’re having some trouble caring for your relative, and that’s okay. It’s the whole reason you’re hiring in-home help, after all. But make sure you let the in-home care agency know about these concerns ahead of time—even if the concerns are about the caregiver him/herself!
Your goal is to make the transition as easy as possible for both your relative and the in-home care agency, a process that goes down much more smoothly when everyone is direct and asks questions as needed.
When working with in-home care agencies, it’s important to document everything that happens. Of course, this means documenting records of medication intake and schedules for when your agency caregiver is on call, but it also means documenting episodes of confusion, daily food intake, medical concerns from day-to-day, and any other information that’s out of the ordinary.
Above All, Listen!
Don’t forget to listen to the feedback your in-home care agency caregiver provides! This relationship should be a two-way street where you both feel comfortable sharing issues. After some time, you’ll likely find your agency caregiver has identified particular problems or day-to-day challenges that you didn’t anticipate.
Work with the agency and caregiver on these problems and try to improve your relationship every day. This is the best way to improve the quality of care for your loved one—and to ensure that you, your relative, and the in-home care agency and caregiver are all happy with your new arrangement.