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03 April 2014

Everyone Isn't for Everybody

Posted in General

“Now let’s talk a little bit about the type of caregiver who will be coming to your home.” It’s a phrase I offer with some hesitation as I’m sitting in the living room or on the patio of a family’s home who has contacted us about the potential to refer in-home care to their parents and/or loved one.

I always quickly try to add to that “You know, some personality traits or preferences? Like do you do well with someone who is more talkative or maybe more reserved, proactive versus someone more prone to wait for direction?”

Psycho-social matching is one of the key distinctions in home care services my company prides itself on, but phrased the wrong way you can swiftly find yourself backed into a corner with a tall order that can only possibly be filled with a prayer, a wish and some dust from the home care fairy herself. Obviously with good reason as most families desire the world in an individual they’re going to entrust the care of their loved one to.

My grandfather has 24-hr care and a team of four aides who work for him and from them our family expects nothing but the best. However, what we perceive to be the best or what we would assume is going to be the best possible match in an individual isn’t always the case. Even with us being what I would call an educated consumer having worked in the home care field for many years, we do not always know best. Comparative to someone newer to home care just getting their feet wet in these often crazy waters.

Prior to gaining the privilege of going out into individuals home’s and doing assessments/intakes, I spent several years in our coordinating department, where all the magic and action of scheduling happens. The heart and soul of the private duty nurse registry business. There we had a saying when it came to matching clients to their potential caregivers; “Every one isn’t for every body.” A coordinator would toss a name out to another one trying to fill a case, discussion ensued as to why this was a potential match or why not and in the end if it was deemed not to be a good idea, someone would always surely say “You know, every one isn’t for every body.” ; noting that while that was a great aide, he/she may not be the best potential candidate in this instance.

Thankfully, through a thorough screening of the aides who register with VIP America and an in-depth analysis of the client’s specific situation our coordinating department gets it right and makes a great match. On rare occasion, we get the phone call, a switch is made, we try again, and usually to satisfactory results. It requires collaboration on the family’s, client’s, aides, and company’s efforts to institute a good working relationship. Some things a family can keep in mind when discussing the future individual they’re bringing in is:

  • Someone with experience in the clients area of need but also the expectancy that there will be a small learning curve in how care is handled in that specific situation. Every Alzheimer client is unique as is every patient with terminal cancer etc.
  • Friendly, kind, compassionate and caring should be at the heart of every aide and is obviously worth the mention.
  • Give it a chance to work before you deem it failed. Not every one is going to acclimate right away or over night. If after a week things still haven’t settled in, maybe a switch is in order. However, if the situation is immediately dangerous or extremely stressful to the client contact your coordinator or representative so a solution can be reached.
  • Interviews aren’t always guarantees of a great match. I get asked if we do interviews with clients and caregivers a lot! One thing I always say is to consider doing a “working interview.” I know aides who do not interview well but man are they awesome aides! Any one can sit and say anything they want but you can’t interview skill or work ethic. Arrange a short shift where the aide comes in and performs the morning routine or preps a meal while you’re there with the loved one. Stay out of the way so that the visit takes place as organically as possible, like it would when you were not there. Yet stay attentive to the interaction between the aide and client to gauge how well things would go if this were a permanent arrangement.

So while not everyone is for every body I am comforted by another popular phrase from my coordinating days, “there’s somebody for everybody.” Whether it’s the first time or the second match, I like to think VIP America is pretty great at finding that perfect fit.

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