Having a caregiver in your home is not your usual social situation and can feel awkward. Navigating the etiquette may be one of the underlying objections to getting a caregiver in your home. So, we’ve broken it down into five simple etiquette rules. You’ll see that these are all common-sense (but often overlooked) and designed to make you and the caregiver comfortable in the situation.
Qualified caregivers are trained in how to respect your privacy, wishes and dignity. With good training and orientation, they’ll understand what you want. They’re there to help you to continue living life on your terms. It’s not complicated, but these basic ground rules for having a caregiver in your home will make everything go smoothly. In the end, you’ll only wish you’d brought in a caregiver sooner.
Our Five Simple Etiquette Rules When Having a Caregiver in Your Home
1. Take time to set a good foundation with an introduction and establishing expectations.
Having a caregiver in your home means having someone in your personal space. You don’t want that person to be a stranger. The introduction helps you both get to know each other. A good home care company will focus on that introduction. They won’t simply send a stranger out to your home cold. That’s why our supervisor always does an introductory visit with the caregiver and client/family.
Regardless of how you found your caregiver, take some time to introduce him/her to the home and yourself and your routines. They may be eager to get to work, but start with a brief tour of the home and a chat about yourself and what you expect. This is also valuable in identifying any mismatch of duties and expectations. Encourage the caregiver to ask questions and perhaps share a little bit of your background and routine.
Getting off to a good start also means checking in after this introduction. Did things go well? Were there any things the client or caregiver suggests to make the situation better? Does the care plan (duties, time frame, etc.) need to be modified? EasyLiving has a systematic process for follow up, so you don’t have to worry about it.
2. Offer a proper work environment.
Safety and Comfort
Caregivers typically do a lot of physical labor. They need a healthy, safe environment to do this work for you. In Florida, this means setting the air conditioning at a reasonable temperature (we suggest 75 degrees). In other areas, this may mean not expecting the caregiver to work in an unheated space. Though this is your home, remember this is the workplace for the caregiver. A workplace would be expected to have a base level of safety and amenities, such as a working bathroom and water. Some clients ask that a caregiver not use the bathroom or drink their water. There are ways to maintain your comfort and privacy while respecting the person working in your home and their basic needs. Our supervisors can help you navigate this to set a good workplace “culture” in your home environment.
Smoking is another big issue due to the risks of secondhand smoke. Some caregivers won’t work for clients who smoke. We ask that clients who smoke not do it inside while the caregiver is present.
Your beloved pet may be the #1 safety hazard for workers coming into the home. Dog bites top the list of worker’s compensation claims for in-home services. Therefore, some companies won’t even allow employees to enter a home until the dog is crated. The simple etiquette rule is to take precautions to be sure the caregiver will be safe. Your dog may be startled by a new person in the home. It may take weeks for a caregiver to get cleared to go back to work after a dog bite which could have exposed them to various diseases, particularly if shots aren’t up to date. So, give your dog and the caregiver the chance to adjust. Talk with the caregiver/agency if you aren’t sure about the best way to handle this.
Provide needed supplies
A caregiver in your home typically does not bring supplies with them. You’re expected to provide what’s needed for cleaning and other chores. For example, you’ll want to have basic cleaning supplies if the caregiver will be doing light housekeeping. Make sure your vacuum cleaner and other tools are working. For caregivers who will be providing personal care such as giving you a bath, you should provide gloves for infection control.
If you use a home care company, they can help with a list of what you might need. And, they can check things out on the first visit to see if anything’s missing.
3. Explain (over-explain) how you want things done and do it often.
There’s a “rule of seven” in marketing that says someone needs to hear a message seven times before they take action. That’s not a hard and fast number, but the concept is the same for any communication. People need messages repeated for them to sink in and take action. Don’t worry about being repetitive. It can be done nicely. And, your caregiver will appreciate having clear direction. Imagine coming into a new client’s home...each job is different for a caregiver. You expect different things than their last client. Maybe you need different things. Your home is new to them. They have to discover how to operate your appliances, where you keep everything, what you like and more.
More clients make the mistake of not explaining enough than overexplaining. Caregivers will be thankful when you’re thorough.
4. Discuss major variations from the care plan (job description) before asking the caregiver to do unexpected tasks.
Caregivers tend to be some of the most helpful people in the world. They will go out of the way to make you happy. And, you may come to rely on them and build a close relationship. So, it is easy to find yourself asking them to help with all kinds of things. But, remember, like with other jobs, they signed on with certain expectations. Their job description, which in this case is the care plan, outlines what they’re supposed to do. It puts them in an awkward position when you start asking for things beyond their scope.
Some examples include asking the caregiver to do in-depth cleaning or household repairs. Caregivers often do light housekeeping and many chores around the home, but they’re not a cleaning service. It can be difficult to get a caregiver into your home if the environment is unsanitary or unsafe. The home care company or care manager can work with you on resources for extreme clutter or deep cleaning. Your caregiver isn’t an electrician, pool service or roofer. Don’t ask them to put themselves (and you) in harm’s way.
You may also be tempted to ask them to do things you were told they cannot. For example, why can’t the caregiver give you your injections or fill your pill box? You’re asking them to break agency rules and state regulations in these cases. Similarly, don’t put the caregiver in an awkward situation with their agency or your family. Asking them to do something behind someone’s back or to lie for you is a breach of their trust.
5. Be nice.
We end with the most important “etiquette rule” and the one that will yield you the best experience. Unfortunately, we’re shocked how often caregivers are treated poorly. And this is a competitive marketplace...there aren’t enough caregivers to fill demands. So, caregivers have the choice and want to work for nice clients. Are you being courteous and respectful? Do you say “thank you”? Is there someone (a neighbor or relative) who comes over and demands things of the caregiver or mistreats her?
Like any employee, caregivers want (and deserve) to work in a safe, friendly environment. If you don’t treat your caregiver with respect, expect a lot of turnover. This etiquette rule supersedes all the others. Good caregivers work for good people. It’s as simple as that.
EasyLiving has zero tolerance for abuse or harassment of caregivers. Sometimes this is a tough call when relatives despair “That’s just the way Dad’s always been.” Or, when dementia seems to be at the root of agressive or sexual behaviors. But, we have to prioritize our caregivers’ safety and wellbeing. This is just the basic level of what they can expect in their workplace, your home. Beyond that, it only takes the same level of respect you would want any of your family members to get at work.
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