It happens all the time. The relationship just isn’t working out. Whether it’s your cleaning lady, pet walker or handyman, there comes a time when the decision is made to amicably part ways.
But how do you end a relationship with the caregiver who has been helping your older loved one for quite some time? Things may have proceeded smoothly for years, but suddenly there are lapses in care and more frequent absences. Or perhaps the caretaking needs of your loved one have escalated and require a stronger, more skilled professional. Still, you recognize the time the current caretaker has invested with your loved one, and you want to handle the situation as professionally and compassionately as possible.
Ending the caretaker relationship is much like ending any other work relationship. Don’t act hastily and make sure you have taken the following steps:
Make the caretaker aware of expectations. Reiterate what is expected–from cooking meals to dialing in a favorite television show. Put those detailed expectations in writing. Review them with the caretaker, acknowledging your concerns about their ability to meet your loved one’s needs.
Monitor caretaker performance over the next month. Document conversations, unusual incidents, late arrivals and absences and lapses in care.
Devise a plan. If you are ending this caretaker relationship, you will need another caretaker in short order. Be sure you have ready access to additional assistance at home to bridge the gap until you hire another dedicated caretaker.
Get your ducks in a row. Will you provide severance pay? Is your caretaker eligible for unemployment? Do you feel comfortable offering your caretaker a letter of recommendation? All of these questions and more must be addressed before the break up.
Be sure your loved one is comfortable with your decision. You may feel you are ready to make the move, but remember your loved one has a far deeper relationship with this individual. Are they truly ready for someone new to enter their everyday routine, and are you sure the problems with the current caretaker cannot be resolved. Only after you have asked yourself these questions repeatedly, should you take any action.
Schedule time for a brief talk, and invite another family member if that makes you feel more comfortable. Explain the situation to the caretaker and position the decision in the best interest of your loved one’s long-term needs. Demonstrate genuine appreciation for the caretaker’s service and understanding for their situation.
Ending a relationship is never easy, but if your caretaker is no longer the best fit for your loved one you must take the needed steps. Both parties will be thankful in the long run.
Lisa Vogel is the owner of The Lisa Vogel Agency, a home health care agency providing custodial care on a live-in or hourly basis for clients who require long-term care, rehabilitation care, or hospice care. Learn more about how to maintain your independence by contacting The Lisa Vogel Agency at 410-363-7770.