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My Mom (who is 74) is my Dad’s primary full time caregiver (Dad is now 81 with very limited mobility). As my Mom is now getting older herself, the situation is becoming more challenging. Both prefer to remain in their own home at the moment and we do not have the means to hire 24 hour assistance. We have however tried to hire part time caregivers to help take some of the load off of my Mom. According to the service providers, this falls under Respite Care. But none of these Respite Care Caregivers will do anything? They bring homework, work from other jobs, books or stare at their phones 90-95% of the time. We have given clear instructions, leave lists have spoken to the companies they are hired through. And every time, it is the same thing.


We’ve made it clear to the Caregiving service that my Mom (the Caregiver herself) is at a point where she needs more hands on assistance. And we do not simply need someone to watch or just give companionship to my Dad. My Mom gives each caregiver a rundown about my Dad’s morning routine (feeding, cleaning, etc) and then gives them a few other things that are falling behind that she needs help with (maybe putting some dishes away, or a little laundry from my Dad’s bedding) - and every time she walks back in the room and the caregiver will have set themselves up at the dining room table doing homework or will be reading a book and not attending to anything she’s asked. Is this a thing??


We’ve tried 4-5 services and are very honest and clear about the level of care required along with our needs and past experiences. We are repeatedly reassured by each new company that, “their caregivers would never do that and if they did, we should let them know immediately.”


Sigh, 3 caregivers in at the new service and 2 out of 3 all but refuse to do anything. One last week was even hostile and yelled at my poor Mom. For the record, my Mom is really easy going. But by now, even she is completely frustrated with this whole situation. After last weeks caregiver was so rude to my Mom, we called and spoke to our representative from the company. She was extremely apologetic and reassured us nothing my Mom had asked was out of the norm. She even stated that each caregiver is texted a list of duties to be expected at each job, and that she had compiled the “to do list” that is then texted to each caregiver prior to arriving at my parents house.


Is the term Respite Care giving these Caregivers the idea they just need to physically “be there” to give my Mom a break, rather than actually taking her place for those hours? Do most Caregivers bring their own personal work to do while caring for clients? Is this a known thing? This is not giving my poor Mom any reprieve…it is now adding more to her stress level!


I’m at a loss and feeling hopeless! Anyone else going through this?


Any insight from professional Caregivers is definitely welcome as well! Thanks

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Well. There is a major communication problem.

Your mother is communicating her wants to the agency. The agency is communicating those in the form of tasks within the support plan to its workers. The workers... are not hearing, not complying, not agreeing..?

Your mother reports the failure to the agency. The agency hears the report and promises to act on it. And then..?

But I am also interested in "picture the scene." Worker arrives, briefed via the support plan which s/he should get in skeleton form with the day's rota, and then in more detail on the client's premises. Yes so far?

So this particular Wednesday, mother greets the worker and says: "today Mr Client would like to shower and shave. He would like oatmeal for his breakfast. I will give his medications. Once he is dressed and settled in his riser recliner he will probably need a nap, so if you could then help me change the bedsheets that would be much appreciated."

And the worker responds by..?

What should happen is that the worker first Reads The Support Plan. I personally take a blank Daily Records sheet and bullet point the support plan directly onto it, but that's because I do love a checklist. Last Sunday morning this led to my marching into the client's bedroom and demanding (kindly, not fiercely) to know why the client's wife was stripping his bed without assistance - "It says here," I said, tapping the folder with my pen and looking at her over my glasses - but the rule is that if she's happy, you're happy and she'd pretty much finished the job.

Anyway. So, worker reads Support Plan. Has your mother read it? What does it say?

Let's assume it says something like: "if time allows, please support domestic tasks including laundry, garbage disposal and tidying client's living areas e.g. bedroom, bathroom, day room."

So the worker knows this, and your mother knows this, and your mother comes into the room after an hour or so and finds your Dad asleep in his chair and the worker engaged in online training on her laptop. And your mother says..?

Now. I am only guessing. But my guess is that your mother finds it much easier to do the tasks herself than to say "Oi Mush!" to a strapping lass with a sulky expression, and possibly also finds it preferable to put her own dishes away than to leave this job to said strapping lass with the ham-fisted approach to porcelain.

There is an awkward phase during which workers coming in to the home seem to cause more trouble than they save. The first time you visit a person's home, you don't even know where the light switch is, let alone how they like their coffee, how dark they like their toast, whether they tuck their t-shirt in or prefer it hanging out; whether they store their mugs on their rims or their bottoms. I got my head bitten off for picking up and folding a damp towel - "I WISH you wouldn't do that!" snapped the client. I froze and delicately attempted to put the towel back exactly as she'd left it on the bathroom floor, then realised it must look as if I was taking the mickey and blushed - there is no winning with some people.

Now. There is no reason on earth why your poor mother should be expected to be a trainer in household management, and at this most stressful time in her life also find the energy and patience to engage with workers in teaching them their job. But that, to a greater or lesser extent depending on the individual worker's attitude and life skills, is the trick of it.

So, now then, hand on heart, do you think your mother is communicating directly and openly with the people who are actually standing in her house?
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You are referring to the one's that come to the home for respite, lol, they are worthless.

About a month ago, I bought one of those Traeger Timberline grill/smokers. Had not even used it yet, put it through the initial heat cycle, thats it. Came home from work, Sat before tax season ended, exhausted and the worker was bbqing ribs and sides for her family started it at her 8 am shift and slow cooked it all day. I was so angry. Made dinner, on stove and she told me her client preferred to "be served at 6:30 pm." I was livid. The normal lady just steals Keurig, tp and paper towel. Thats only the last month.

The agencies lie and if you complain too much, they will say you are difficult and wont send staff. Pick your battles and get a housekeeper to help mom with chores.
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MonkeyMoo2 May 26, 2021
That’s terrible! I don’t understand how people have the nerve to do things like that. Today’s CG set up a laptop and started working on homework. My Mom has finally had enough and told her she was being paid to help them and could she please not do personal work during her shift. About an hour and a half into a 4 hour shift, she knocked on my Mom’s door telling her she had done everything listed so could she take off??? Ugh

We’ve been going through this cycle for about a year and a half now, if you do manage to find a decent one…they quickly get another job doing something else.

We also have a housekeeper that comes weekly for cleaning. But with daily soiled bedding and clothing, this stuff piles up quickly. I just don’t understand how a caregiver expects to get paid to do their own personal schoolwork or whatever rather than the things they have been hired to do. If I did that at my job, I would promptly be fired!

At this point, I’m not seeing the point in evening hiring them. It still all falls on my Mom and now she’s stressed and irritated on top of it all!
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As others posted, it really does depend on who is sent out. I have had good caregivers for my mom and some that were completely useless.

It seems like complaining to management hasn’t helped you very much. That’s a shame.

I think it is useful to complain if the organization is managed well. A good manager wants to know of any issues that arise and resolves them. A poor manager simply won’t care and will do nothing to fix the issue.

By complaining with an organization that cares, not only will your problem be resolved but you will be doing others a service by preventing that agency to send a caregiver that isn’t following procedures to future clients.

For me, personally, I want to be fair and give people a chance to correct a problem. If someone squares any issues, I let it go. If issues continue, then there is a bigger problem and I would bid farewell to them.

It also depends on finances. Some people can afford to pay a private caregiver for their services and they write up a specific contract. This should be prepared legally. I would not ever pay someone under the table like some do. That isn’t good for a variety of reasons. Consider everything. With an agency, if one caregiver can’t show up, they will send out a replacement.

You could consider paying for a housekeeper and separate caregiver for specific needs if your budget allows for this.

I had a caregiver that wanted to help me when she was finished with helping mom. It was very sweet of her but I told her that I didn’t expect her to do extra. I happened to be mopping my kitchen at the time and she offered to do it. Her organization specifically told me that she was only required to tidy up my mom’s room and care for mom’s needs, bathing her, helping her dress, preparing a light meal or snack. I cook so I never asked her to cook but she did serve mom her meal. Mom enjoyed when her caregiver shared a meal, a cup of coffee and a snack with her. I always made extra food for the caregiver to have a meal too.

I do hope that you are able to find suitable help soon. Wishing you all the best for you and your parents.
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom
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RESPITE CARE MEANS THAT THE MAIN CAREGIVER NEEDS A BREAK FROM ALL THAT SHE HAS TO DO...JUST SO SHE CAN LIE DOWN AND TAKE A NAP OR SHE CAN GO SHOPPING OR GO GET HER HAIR CUT AND STYLED. MEANWHILE, THE PAID CAREGIVER IS SUPPOSED TO STEP IN AND DO THE ROUTINE LIST OF LIGHT CHORES THAT THE SPOUSE WOULD HAVE DONE.
RUN THE VACUUM THE CARPET IN ALL THE ROOMS THAT ARE BEING USED, MAYBE WET MOP THE KITCHEN AND BATHROOM FLOORS, CLEAN THE BATHROOM SINK AND SWISH THE TOILET BOWL WITH THE BRUSH, WASH ANY DIRTY DISHES LEFT FROM THE PREVIOUS MEAL, CHECK ON THE PATIENT EVERY HOUR, OFFER THEM SOMETHING TO DRINK, OR MAYBE FIX THEM A SNACK, ASSIST THEM WITH THEIR FOOD, ASSIST THEM, IF NEEDED, TO THE BATHROOM, WASH THEIR BACK BECAUSE OLD PEOPLE ARE NOT ABLE TO DO THAT.
IF THE RESPITE CARE PEOPLE ARE NOT DOING ANYTHING BUT SITTING, THEY NEED TO BE WARNED PERSONALLY THAT THEY WILL BE FIRED FOR NOT COMPLYING.
YOU NEED TO COMPLAIN TO THE INSURANCE PROVIDER, IF HER MEDICAID OR MEDICARE IS HELPING TO PAY FOR THIS SERVICE. IF YOU ARE A PRIVATE PAY FOR THE CAREGIVER SERVICE, THEN CHECK ON CHRISTIAN CAREGIVER SERVICES.
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Cookie2020 May 30, 2021
Please don’t post in all caps. It’s actually more difficult to read. Thank you.
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FWIW the facility where my sister works has staff that are supposed to work 1 on 1 with problematic residents and most of them do the same thing 🙄.
Unless there is a significantly lower rate for "respite care" I would ditch that and go with something more specific - for example bath care, or whatever it is your mom need help with.
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when we needed a CG for dad,( mom was in a local rehab) the first one was a middle aged guy,, he took dad to see Mom, and here at the house he watched TV with him, but other than that he was on the computer ( looking for another job it turns out.. LOL) When we needed another once Mom came home, to "keep dad busy" so Mom could get things done, we used the same agency,, and boy what a difference in this lady! We actually thought about hiring her away from the agency as our own personal "Alice from the Brady Bunch".. but it was cost prohibitive as to the agency penalty.. She help Dad busy,, walks and projects,, kept Mom company too,, always looking for things to do and wanted to cook ( mom still liked to do that,, so no go therr but she always brought treats she baked.. ) and she tidied up . So maybe we just got lucky,, or you are unlucky! The agency was great about keeping in touch.
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Fir starters, if you want good help that will work and knows what to take care of without being told, hire private help. Use a care finder website, interview a few people and check their references. Then negotiate the pay.
I've been an in-home senior caregiver for almost 25 years. I stopped working for agencies and went private cases only a long time ago.
You're not going to get experienced caregivers who know how to handle this kind of work from some agency paying minimum wage. Also, agencies lie to their caregivers. I know this from experience. Pretty much every case a homecare aide gets sent to is described as living in an immaculately clean house for some sweet, little old lady and all you have to do is have tea with her. Or some cool old-timer who just wants someone to watch a ballgame with. That's what agency help gets told. That's never what it actually is. Homecare agencies will pretty much hire anyone too. What they collect in payment is not what the worker gets. The caregiver usually gets minimum with no benefits. Clients aren't going to get much from that worker. Hire privately. If you're paying out-of-pocket for agency help, pay that to a private caregiver and you'll get good results.
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The first time I hired private care for my mother, I caught them playing a game on their phone with their feet up on her coffee table. Why? Because I was at work and the first few days of it I decided I'd drop by unannounced. "You look comfortable," I said as I walked in. I called the company and told them the caregiver, and the company as a whole, were fired.

But not before I asked the person, and the company, why it was this way. "Well she was asleep and..." the person said. This was before I pointed to the sink full of dishes they could have put in the dishwasher. I asked for a refund of services, which I got, so that I could be paid to load the dishwasher.

I've found it takes several tries, and time we don't have, to find a caregiver that "clicks" and gets along with our elders. We eventually found one that actually went on to become a family friend, but not without moments of great anxiety and angst. She went on to get a different job otherwise I'd call upon her again. Some people love this kind of work. Some people need it to pay their bills. It takes time before you find the former, and go thru hell dealing with the latter.
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Reply to MajorLeague
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A sitter does NO hands on care.
A certified nurse's assistant (CNA) does hands-on care.
There is a difference, and hiring a CNA costs a lot more because they do a lot more.

If you hire someone off the street, realize the liability if they claim to get injured in your home they can sue your estate. If they earn a certain amount you become their legal employer and you are responsible for their taxes "Nanny Tax".
Read more about the Nanny Tax here: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/n/nanny-tax.asp

Be aware some companies like "Granny Nannies" do not insure their workers, and they also do not take out their worker's taxes. That is why they cost a lot less.

Whatever agency used, MAKE CERTAIN and see it in WRITING the workers are covered by Workman's Compensation.

Here is an example where Granny Nannies was sued as one of their caregivers allegedly bilked $140,000 from a 92 year old.
https://www.businesstrialgroup.com/news/btg-sues-granny-nannies/

Around the clock care is VERY expensive. That is why Medicaid only pays for nursing homes; they average about $85,000 to $95,000 a year per patient for all their services, and that is a LOT cheaper than home care.
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TouchMatters May 30, 2021
Employees from agencies are not 'sitters.' At least I have no knowledge of this role or job description.
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I wish I knew the answers but you are most likely right. I live in assisted living and while I am l00% high functioning and the care of myself completely (I can't walk), some aides are wonderful but quite a few (too many) don't want to do a darn thing and are annoyed if they are put in a position where they have to do something. They don't even speak to say hello - nothing. It is a problem with many caretakers and I wish I knew the answer. You must make it very, very clear when they are initially interviewed and hired the they will have xyzy duties and they will have to tend to them. Then you have the basis for making them do their jobs. You might also draw up some kind of agreement and have them sign it. And just keep looking - sooner or later you might be lucky.
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BurntCaregiver May 31, 2021
Riley2166,

Some people don't have warm personalities and they're not overly friendly. That doesn't mean they don't care and won't do right by a person.
I'm not a warm and friendly type myself. I've always gotten along with most of the senior clients I work for. Once I've been with them for a while, the clients and their families know they can trust and depend on me. They don't have to worry when their elderly loved one is in my care.
Peace of mind is worth more than some aide saying hello to a person when she walks by.
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