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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.

GAH.

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

Ruth

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I am a caregiver, housekeeper, holiday and party cook, gardener, bookkeeper, deep cleaning the basement and garage just full of mouse ridden crap. Now she wants me to mow her yard, weed wack it, fertilize it, prune the bushes, mulch the entire outside of the house. And I deduct $50 a week to help her with her bills. All the while her grandson who is in his mid 20's lives here, doesn't work, doesn't contribute anything and sits in the basement playing video games 24 hours a day.
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I am in the same situation plus prep for their gatherings on the weekends or whenever they decide to have guestsssss over. But even after i told my agency what was going on she just said well its just balance since i dont have to really take care of my patient. :(
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Oh this sad....They do not respect you or your profession...
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The daughter(s) seem clueless. Maybe you should take a week's vacation and dump the parents' care in their laps. They'd straighten out pretty darn quick!
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They see you as a maid. It is easier to tell yourself you have the luxury of daily maid service, than the need for daily caregiving. These folks are looking for a maid, so if housekeeping is not your career of choice, look for different clients
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Ruth PS when you take another job make sure both you and the employer are clear on what your duties are and how long it takes to do certain tasks.
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Ruth it is my understanding that a home care aide or private caregivers' primary duties are to care for their patient. that is personal care. preparing meals and snacks and patient's laundry including bedding and towells. What ever is used in the kitchen should be cleaned and put back where you found it and of course wipe stove and fridge if you spilt something, likewise messes on the floor. Also keep the patient's bathroom clean. vacuming and dusting the patient's own rooms is also reasonable.
Heavy housework should not be part of your job description definitely not steam cleaning floors, cleaning the fridge , doing windows and dusting wondow sills. i think it is OK to take the dog out or fetch mail and newspaper. Taking a patient for a walk is fine but you don't rush to get other cleaning done because you were out for 1/2 and hour. Taking patients to Dr appointments or shopping is fine if asked but that time is included in the hours you are hired for. If you prepare lunch that is time spent working and there should be a note left about the menu for the day and the ingredients. It's fine to pick up a deli chicken if requested and you are reimbursed.
You work four hours twice a week. that gives you enough time to get two people bathed and dressed. A meal prepared and eaten. beds changed and laundry put in the washer,a short walk and half an hour to sit with them read the paper play games or whatever. If there is a Dr appointment that is about it for the day, plus a quick meal as in soup and sandwiches. While you are baking however much the patients enjoy your work you are neglecting your patients that is unless cooking is part of their therapy. You say Ella is recovering from a hip replacement so you should be helping her with her exercises and walking her around the house. You should be devoting half an hour a day to that unless a PT also comes on those days. Don't eat any of your words. talk to the daughters about that list and explain what the duties of a caregiver are and just how long it takes to complete each task for the patient. They probably have no idea just what to expect from a caregiver so give them a little education. You are a paid employee not a volunteer
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Hi, Ruth not changing the subject, but taking care of two patient, will you charge double the fee, or one price for the both.
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Well I'm here to eat a few of my words. First of all - wow - I really do love this couple. I showed up today with a deli chicken. I thought it would make lunch easier. I entered with a little trepidation, wondering what the climate would be. I'm convinced, now, that the "note" was pretty much 100% the girls' doing. Ella was thrilled to see me and so grateful for every little thing. I did some basic household chores (yeah, I steamed all the hard floors, which amused Don) but it was a light day. I can't help myself, I really care about these people. Don was lucid today, and even teased me. It was a good day. I'm going to hang with them - she is realizing that he is in need of a caregiver and that they know a good one. How funny.
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Ruth you are already providing way beyond your caregiving responsibilities so be proud of that,
All the paid caregivers on this site provide far more involvement in their clients lives than simply going to the home and doing basic duties. One caregiver from any agency I met once we called her "Sally with rocks in her head") turned up in the middle of a crisis and just stood at the bedside with her gloves on waiting to give her client a bath which of course is what she was hired for. The patient was being cared for by a husband with advanced dementia and I believed he had allowed her to fall out of bed and bang her head but no one was talking. I think Sally would never have noticed if the patient had died, she would have still done her job.
You guys are all fantastic and truly love your charges
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Jeannegibbs has a very valid point. When I first wrote this post I was still angry and maybe a little bit insulted. I believe you're right - that it is ignorance to a great degree. They had one caregiver, for 1.5 shifts, before me. She broke the vacuum and the gas range, then sat on the couch and played on her iPhone. That's when they called the daughter of a former client, asking "who took care of your dad?", and got my name. I'm really their FIRST true caregiver, and they don't know. The thing is, the shift before the big NOTE, I said to Ella "I'm a caregiver. Caregiving is what I know and do. My specialty is Dementia." I thought communicating that to her would be a way to indirectly get to this issue of more and more housekeeping jobs. Then came THE NOTE. So I'm thinking she told the "girls" (who are my age) that I was balking at the household chores. I am going to check the "temperature" of the household tomorrow. He was SO much further into Dementia on Tuesday than he had been the previous week that I have no idea what to expect. I talked to a friend who does have a housekeeping business, and the hourly rate for this work load is $40. Maybe I SHOULD change professions! Kidding. My heart is in caregiving. I have an additional client for whom I provide transportation, massage, and companionship. I love her, and we have a mutual respect for one another. She's actually younger than I am, but is so very, very ill. What I desire to do is help Don be the best he can with the remaining time he has. I feel I can enhance his life with activities (he is a former educator and school counselor, and I've arranged for a tour of a local college and a formal portrait at no cost), as well as help the family understand how to communicate with him. I'm going to go about my list tomorrow, and maybe get items on the preferred meal list to create meals to freeze ahead for them. See - the thing is - I bring them food all the time at my own expense. I even make food at home before my shift. Those of you on this forum who have known me for the several years I've been here understand where my heart is. I'm not lazy - but wow. Yeah. So - thank you SO much to one and all for taking time to reply and lift me up. I've got this. Let's see what tomorrow brings. I've blogged about my days with them on my blogspot blog. If interested, I think it's listed in my profile. Thank you all again.

Ruth
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The daughters is who you need to speak with.
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Ya know, most Americans have no experience hiring household help at all. The daughter may not being trying to take advantage but just has no concept of what caregiving should include. This is probably ignorance rather than malice. That is no reason to go along with it, but I'd approach it as a matter of education.
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Just sit down with daughters and mom and outline what you thought you were hired to do and define what those caretaking responsibilities are. Tell them you aren't insured (lie if you must) for the housekeeping part and that you'd be willing to do some but that would be extra and that they will need to hire outside housekeeping professionals.

They may not see it as taking advantage....but I suspect at least the daughters do.
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I used to take care of my 2 bedridden parents. Mom was the worse of the 2. She had trache and the G-tube. Because she was completely vegetative-state (could not move a finger or her head), she needed constant suctioning or she would choke. If we didn't pay too close attention, she would be very very red face and just gasping horribly trying to breathe thru the thick phlegm clogging up her airway. I hired a caregiver for Saturdays. When she got bored, she started cleaning - which eventually went outside to gardening in our yard and taking the proceeds with her home. I was very irritated and constantly kept telling her to please stay inside with them. She didn't listen.

This is what popped in my head as I read yours and the other posts. Ruth, from the very beginning when I found this site last year June, I admired you. You are a very kind and loving person. This family is taking advantage of you. There is no Ifs, Ands or Buts about it. I was envious that they were able to sucker you into doing these houseworks. I would never ever even tell this to my paid caregiver and others that I have hired. If they threw in the housecleaning, whoopee!!! And I always thanked and praised them for doing it.

This is my concern for YOU. If the husband is clearly deteriorating, then you really need to spend more time closer to him than being elsewhere doing housework. If anything should happen to him - medically - like choking or stopped breathing or seizures, etc... - YOU will be the one to be blamed. Not the family for adding all those chores. But You, because they hired you to take care of their parents. In their minds, that will be the main thing - even though they gave you all that housekeeping list to do. You are walking a fine line because you want to stay for him but the family wants you to do a totally different kind of job. But in the end, when the chips fall, if you're not there when either parent has a medical emergency because you were busy housecleaning, you will end up taking the fall.

With that list given to you, are you able to approach the one who actually hired you? Tell them the main reason you were hired and this list is a housecleaning list not a caregiving list. If they like, when you have FREE time, you are willing to set aside time - One Hour - a day to do the most important housecleaning BUT you will charge them the going rate for housekeeping = $30/hour. Choose a time which the husband is sleeping, and do the Critical housework - like the kitchen table, the sink, mopping the area around the husband, etc.... Or you can just tell them that you are a caregiver first, and any housework will be Light and in between your caregiving responsibilities. Then point to the window sills, etc and say that is NOT part of the Light Housekeeping work that you will do, etc.... But you can say it better with kindness and firmness.
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Ruth that list is way beyond the scope of expectations for an aide.
I would expect you to provide personal care to both Ella and Don, change their beds and wash linens and personal clothing. If you have extra time you CAN iron if you want to. You should also keep their personal are cleaned and tidy including the bathroom they use. Cooking a meal and providing snacks and assisting with medications. Cleaning up after yourself in the kitchen is also necessary. Helping Don go for a walk is a priority and helping Ella do her exercises if she agrees is also fine. If you take them to Dr appointments include the full time on your time sheet if that does not fall within your four hours. Also charge the federal rate for your mileage if you use your car. Check with you insurance co if you are covered for this but do not pay for extra ins, they pay or use their own car.
If they want you to clean the house that is an extra 2 hours at the going rate for housekeepers in your area, assuming you actually want to do that.
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You have taken on too much. The family medling has caught up. If they are POA. for one or both then it is your choice to stay or give notice. But if they are not legally appointed to their care then I say talk to the Mrs. it is your choice, maybe see if you can find someone to help on the other days of the week to lighten the load. Your choice to stay or give notice.
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Ruth-
The callousness of some medical, so called, professionals is completely unbelievable!
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gladimhere - yes, thank you. One of the first things I asked was that very question. He was fully evaluated, including checking for UTI. He has had continuing medical appointments and the family has been seeking any and all answers. One very calloused nurse said, in his presence, "Well, your dad has lost his mind and he probably doesn't have much longer to live anyway." Needless to say, she is seeking other employment. Thank you, to captain, for stating something I was wondering about. I had a feeling - just a gut feeling - a couple of weeks ago that he would be going the speed of my dear Colonel I cared for previously and that I might have just a few weeks with him. You sort of confirmed that feeling.
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Ruth-
These sudden and rapid declines could potentially be caused by a UTI. Has he been checked recently?
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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.
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@ 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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Ruth,
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.
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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.
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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.
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