Am I a caregiver or a housekeeper?

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I'm sort of whining here, but I would like family input on my dilemma. I've been providing care for "Don and Ella" for several months now. Don has Vascular Dementia, and has recently suffered a full stroke and multiple mini-strokes. Ella has had a hip replacement and is recovering VERY slowly. Both are about 84. She's fiercely independent and proud. He is gentle, quiet, and a sweetheart. Both seem to love and appreciate me very much. Here's the thing; I am a CARE GIVER. From the first day, she had me doing a lot of housework, which I chalked up to her recent surgery. I work about 4 hours, twice a week. I've been doing vacuuming, dusting, floor care, bathroom cleaning, as well as cooking meals and baking. Getting the work load done in 4 hours means I'm racing. Very little time, if any, is devoted to caring for Don - which is what I specialize in. WELL- Yesterday I arrived to THE NOTE. The daughters, evidently, had decided "it was time" to have this in writing. OH MY GOSH. Clean out the refrigerator and wipe down all shelves, each shift. Vacuum every room, dust every room, all window sills, every shift. Steam clean all hard floors every shift. And the list goes on. The only caregiving on the list was to take Don for a walk once a shift. Seriously. As I said; I love them. I can only imagine what sort of conversation took place that led to a type written note. I know that I am an above-average cleaner, and I also know that's not what I signed up for. They hired me based on a referral from another care giving client's daughter. Yesterday I had brought supplies for, and planned, an activity with Don to engage him and help with dexterity. No chance to do this, as I was Holly Housekeeper all day. OH - ironing. I get to iron the pillow cases, handkerchiefs, and all clothing items including her SWEAT clothes. No joke. So, the daily task list is an entire typewritten page. I go back Friday.

I want to say - I'm not a maid, but I don't want to disrespect that industry either.


I go back Friday. Just want some input from families who hire caregivers.



sounds like the whole fam damily are a bunch of ocd idiots. iron pillow cases?
not in my lifetime. yea, you probably should have a detailed agreement drawn out cause these people arent with reality. it sounds like the care recievers also live in a flawless ocd mindset. that aint the reality in 21st century america. we work, get paid barely enough to live on and we rest when were not working.
Hi Ruth, time to find a new client! (unless you prefer housework to caregiving!) Get the word out and then give enough notice for your current clients to find a replacement. The tasks you are performing are NOT part of a paid caregiver's duties. So, unless that is what you like to do, it's time to move on. It is so hard to find a good caregiver, I suspect you would have no lack of opportunities.
yup, this family is out to take advantage of your kind and loving spirit. Unless you want to be a housekeeper find another situation. It seems that all of this should have been ironed out, so to speak, before you started. ;-) Could they be envisioning a holiday gathering there and want you to do the prep for it? Maybe next week you will also become the chef. And while they try to find someone else, do not do this extra work, you are there to care for Don, not make the abode spotless.
Ruth, I agree with geewiz. No disrespect at all to the housekeeping industry. That is an honorable and necessary function. It just isn't the one you signed on for. So find a client who wants to use your highest skills.

Since you like these people it MIGHT be worth an in-person chat with the daughter, to explain what you do professionally and see if they would like to retain you on that basis.

But continuing on as a housekeeper? Nope, that doesn't make sense.

By the way, when I had a personal care attendant for several months my husband Coy was declining quite a bit. Some days she did puzzles with him, took him for walks, watched television with him and chatted a little about what they were watching. She helped him do his PT exercises. She always prepared his breakfast and lunch. As he slept more and more she was really bored. I told her that I knew it wasn't part of her job description but if she wanted to she could straighten up the silverware drawer. She was very well organized and she loved doing it. I gave her other fill-in tasks, but always told her that Coy came first and that she didn't have to do the extra tasks unless she was bored and wanted to. The tasks were never vacuuming or dusting -- I had a homemaker come in for that. I guess whatever the family and the caregiver agree on is OK, but assuming that you are a housekeeper and giving you so many "extra" tasks that you don't have time to do caregiving is absurd. It is a poor use of their money and your time.
Answer their note with your note, outline your agreed duties as a caregiver. It's always to do this in writing in the beginning, but now you play catch up. Make it clear that any additional duties are beyond the scope of your position. Give them the names of available housekeepers with their rates of pay. Around here, companions get $10-12 per hour, but housekeepers get about $20 an hour. Much as you love them, you may have to move on. Next time don't get suckered in by the sweet and lovable clients.
Thank you to everyone for your thoughtful input. I do not mind doing light housekeeping and cooking. In fact - I love to cook and bake. I am making a good wage, but in my area housekeepers receive more like $30 per hour... I am going to give this one more week and see what the status of the husband is. His decline is so rapid that it is shocking. When I first came he was mostly lucid and occasionally had trouble finding a word. Now he's asking about his mother, and wants to know who moved their house. In a matter of 3-4 weeks his decline has been super accelerated. If he declines any further I am worried that they will place him in AL rather than increase the care giving in home. In that case - I need not worry, because I will be out of the job anyway. I DO appreciate hearing that family care givers understand. Thank you again.
I worked for an agency as a companion. When I reported on my time sheet that I had done housework, the client was charged extra.

A possibility if you would prefer to avoid a major confrontation would be to tell them that getting all that work done will prevent you from caring for the father. Would they prefer to give you more hours, or have you skip taking him for a walk?

As an hourly worker, you should not be given more work to do than you can accomplish in the time allotted. That's exploitation. I do think that one way or another, you will be looking for a new job soon. God bless you.
@ ruth,
if an elder is showing decline weekly they likely have weeks to live. the same applies if theyre declining daily -- days to live.
i dont see why he would be placed as long as the in home care is adequate. he will soon need more personal care and the housecleaning silliness will become back burner anyway.
Why give it another week? Just nip it in the bud now! Tell them you are not a maid! It's not going to get better if you don't confront them now.
These sudden and rapid declines could potentially be caused by a UTI. Has he been checked recently?

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