One Family's Story: Overcoming Prejudices for The Best Caregiving Experience

One of EasyLiving’s clients wished to share her family’s story in hopes that it might help others who are experiencing similar concerns when hiring senior care assistance:

I was a bit anxious when I first contacted EasyLiving about getting help for my Mom.  Not for the usual reasons you might think—she and I had talked about my concerns and she was open to getting help, I had been referred by Mom’s attorney to the company and I knew they had a great reputation and I was actually relieved to be taking this step.  But, my nagging worry was how to handle my Mom’s very specific desires (or issues with) who she wanted to help her.  She described for me who she was looking for to help her and the qualities were not things like “experienced”, “kind”, “quiet”, “helpful” and so forth, or even “a good cook”,  but were mostly superficial.  She had race, gender and even weight qualifications in her mind for an ideal caregiver.  I was embarrassed about this, but didn’t really know how to handle it.  I wanted her to be comfortable accepting help, but I knew I couldn’t give in to this attitude and needed to find ways to address the issue.

From the start, Alex and Ric at EasyLiving were very helpful in talking to me about my concerns and helping me with ideas.  They told me that of course they could not and did not discriminate both in employing people and in limiting employees’ access to cases based on a client’s race, gender, religion or other similar preferences.  They also explained their hiring and training process and how they create a custom care plan to help caregivers know how clients like things done, preferences, interests and history so I felt confident my Mom would be pleased with their employees’ work.  As I knew, the quality and personality of the person(s) is what will make or break the situation, not such superficial characteristics.

Alex and Ric gave me some ideas.  First, they asked about Mom’s past experiences with people helping her, such as in the hospital, rehabilitation center or even housekeeping help in the home.  Mom’s most trusted C.N.A. when she was recently hospitalized didn’t fit any of her supposed requirements.  She also had a long time household helper who was a woman of color and greatly respected by Mom.  Clearly, Mom had experiences with diverse people where she was able to see beyond some of these characteristic to build a trusting and personal relationship.

Next, they said they could find caregivers that potentially matched Mom’s needs (shift times, skills, etc.) and allow us to interview the caregivers, giving us an opportunity to know the people and see their positive qualities.  With the amount of care Mom needed, we’d be looking for a team of about 3 caregivers, to cover the shifts as well as serve as backup for each other so there would likely always be someone available who knew Mom and vice versa.  Mom was going through some medical tests and was very exhausted, so I went to the EasyLiving office to meet with potential caregivers.  I felt so good about our options, even though they didn’t meet Mom’s superficial qualifications.  One lady had grown up near Mom’s hometown and cooked some of her favorite dishes and another had been caring for children and then the elderly for 25 years.

So, I was able to explain to Mom the thorough process both EasyLiving and I had gone through to find her good help and I pointed out some of her past experiences.  But, also importantly, I worked closely with EasyLiving to set the caregivers up for success…to avoid the pitfall of Mom using some mistake or preference as an excuse before she got to really know the caregivers.  EasyLiving uses a personal history and preferences questionnaire so we could share Mom’s background, likes and dislikes and some of the little things that could help build a relationship faster, including favorite hobbies and topics.  I also let Mom know she had control, while being a bit firm with her about needing to find quality caregivers as the top priority versus superficial characteristics.  It can be hard to “stand up” to a parent, but I realized I needed to be confident in my beliefs and not simply excuse it as “well, it’s the way she grew up”.

I thought it might help others to share this story, because it is truly a success story.  Her team of caregivers won her over and I don’t know what we would have done without them.  At first, she really didn’t understand why the third person occasionally helped out and warmed to her less, but when one of the primary caregivers had to move, she was glad she had someone else who knew her routine and she became more comfortable with her.  Interestingly enough, when she went in to the hospital at one point, EasyLiving helped with a sitter on an emergency basis and that woman met all her superficial requirements, but there was not nearly the personality match as with the other caregivers.

I think it was an eye opening experience for my Mom, but also for me.  The caregivers were with her right until the end of her life and gave me great peace of mind in supporting us both.  Your story may not go so smoothly, but I think choosing a good agency like EasyLiving that goes above and beyond will make a huge difference.

EasyLiving, Inc. Florida Home Healthcare is here to help with the questions and concerns you might have about hiring senior care and in-home caregivers.  Contact us to discuss your concerns and we’ll also send you free caregiving tips sheets on topics such as “Overcoming Prejudice”, “Ways to Discuss Getting Help with your Parent” and more.