Over the years, I’ve been talking to clients about what they look for in a caregiver/nurse. Last week, you read all about the roles and responsibilities that they should generally embody in this specialised career.
Firstly, I must say they are watching to many movies. We live in Trinidad and Tobago, a Caribbean Island where much of our ideals have been influenced by America through mass media.
We often do not go based on what we need, but what we want and, what we want is far fetched from what is really needed of the caregiver. Example: “I want you to cook, clean and care for mom.” But what I really need is someone to feed mom her meals (which I prepare), clean mom’s space/room (I clean the rest of the house, or there is someone who takes care of that) and care for her during regular work hours, 8 am to 5 pm (giving her a bath, making sure she’s fed, administering her meds and offering her companionship). See how different the two can be? If you break down what is really needed for mom’s care, the decision-making process for a caregiver/nurse becomes much easier.
Another cause of these unrealistic requests made to caregivers is that we listen too often to persons who are not involved in the daily care of dad, who never had to care for a senior, who love to put their two cents in everything and then, they walk out the door and go home. Plain and simple: “Empty vessels make the most noise.”
You may find that I’m very blunt when it comes to this topic, but WE Family Caregivers don’t have room for what I call static, noise or negative energy in our space or our caree’s. We need to decide what we really want and then work towards getting it. If you get one person to cover everything on your list, you’ll likely drop to your knees and sing praises to God Almighty. But having overly high expectations for someone who you hardly even know will probably set them up for failure before they even begin.
The next popular cause of false expectations is thinking that no one can provide care like you. OH REALLY! Then why are you looking for a caregiver/nurse? If we really believed this, then the thought or conversation of hiring a caregiver would never happen. We go as far to believe that “other siblings can’t help because they don’t know mom like I do.” If that’s the case, then great. Share the information or little things about mom that would help them help you to help mom. Knowledge is power only when it is shared, so stop hogging the information and share, share, share.
Another issue is sidelining the caree from joining in on the conversation. If mom or dad is able to contribute to the type of care they receive, then include them in it. Ask them what they would like assistance in getting done. You may be surprised — it may be things you haven’t even thought of. If however, they are not able to contribute to the conversation, then ask their doctor. “What do you think would be the best care assistance I can give mom right now?” It may be to just have someone give insulin or check blood pressure and sugar. Maybe it’s just companionship. Remember the first step to being a great caregiver is having empathy and being able to put yourself in the other person’s shoe.
As Trinbagonians, we love to talk “we business” with people. Talking works both ways. You can either get vital information or, you can create more problems with the wrong information coming at you. Many of us talk our business with every Sandra, Harry, Mary, and Indrani. Choose who you are talking your business with, sometimes hearing the same negative story over and over and over can make you feel the situation is a lot worse than it is. It can also send you into a state of depression, frustration, anger or hopelessness. Sometimes we need to talk to someone but as my mother used to say, “Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are.” Same applies. You want people who are supportive to not only surround you but also your caree. Who shows a genuine concern when asking about your mom or dad? What can they do to help you and your caree? Don’t be afraid to cut people out of your life. Remember, people come into your life for a season, or a reason.
You need to set a realistic expectation of how many hours you want this person to work. Do you want someone to come for two hours a day? Let’s think about it—I mean really think about it. Most caregivers/nurses travel to and from their jobs. Transportation is expensive no matter where you live in Trinbago. So how is this going to make any sense for someone? Four hours may still be a challenge for some, because it is only a handful of persons that would be interested in doing this — and, to be honest, this will be in addition to their other job. You should realistically be looking at hiring someone for 6 hours, or more.
You might want someone for a full 12 hours, but you set a ridiculous budget of $100 a day. Would you take this job when it pays so little for so much time? Don’t get me wrong. It is not only about the money; remember, this is their bread and butter. Caregivers have families and bills to pay just like the rest of us. On the flip side, some caregivers/nurses ask for as much as $45/$50 per hour. The majority of families cannot afford this.
During an interview, when you are having this discussion with this a prospective caregiver, you are creating a potential relationship so discuss the figure and see if they can flex to what you can afford. It takes two hands to clap.
I have been reiterating throughout these articles WRITE IT DOWN, BREAK IT DOWN, READ IT OUT LOUD and most important, LISTEN WITH YOUR GUT. Your gut will tell you where you are going wrong, what you have been doing right and what are the next steps needed.
When you are able to decipher the reality of your loved one’s situation and what assistance is actually needed dad, only then would you have conquered the Caregiving Conundrum.
Are you a Family Caregiver? Or Were you a Family Caregiver? ALL are Welcomed.
Join the Caregivers Support Group of Trinidad and Tobago. Membership is FREE. Call or WhatsApp (868)310-2742. Monthly Support Group meeting held 2nd Saturday Every Month 11am to 1pm on June 8th, July 13th, August 10th, September 14th, October 12th, November 9th and December 14th. Location will be given when you confirm attendance. As our locations are exciting, warm and inviting and always changing. We look forward to meeting you. Send comments to email email@example.com or WhatsApp (868)310-2742.