The wonderful live in caregiver who has been with us for 5 years sometimes returns after days off with food receipts for reimbursement?

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We have a wonderful live in caregiver who has been with us about 5 years. I feel she is very trustwothy. Sometimes when she takes a few days off to return to her home for a few days she returns back with food purchase receipts to get reimbursed for items bought while off duty. (For fish, fruit, etc.) I am never there to actually see these items arrive at my mom's house that she claims are purchased for my mom. Also my mom has very little short term memory, so asking would basically be useless. Typically I might come to my mom's house a week to two later so I really cannot even look for the items, as they would have been eaten. Typically my mom and the aide shop at many stores near my mom's house which my mom pays for. (Mom covers all foods for herself and the aide) Occ the aide will shop alone near mom's house & then I am given an itemized detailed receipt and I reimburse her gladly for these on duty purchases. However, I am questioning those off duty purchases which I reimbursed her over $40.00 for in Nov and near 30.00 in Dec. I did not really question her to the specifics, I was a bit unsure as to how to proceed. She typically goes home about 1x a month and I can see this becoming a pattern. We have a little aide guidelines booklet that I created. I was thinking of adding a section in regard to reimbursements so that she does not feel it is as personally directed at her alone. I am thinking that I should insist on her submitting ONLY on duty purchases with a clear itemized receipt for reimbursement. (The ones she gave me for her off duty purchases were from small mom/pop shops and so they had no identifying descriptions.) While I want to continue our nice working rel I do not want my mom to be taken advantage of financially. I was wondering how other families deal with reimbursements, etc. (In the past these request for off duty reimbursements were very infrequent and for much less amounts, so I never really thought to much about it.)

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So, it sounds like her using these markets actually save your mother money? I am in a situation where a sibling has accused me of exploiting my mom, called APS and everything. This is a very sensitive subject for me. All accusations were manufactured by sister and the case with APS was immediately closed. But now, how this has effected my career who the he__ knows, I will never be able to answer no to a polygraph question about being investigated for commission of a felony! I now have to answer yes, then what? Will a potential employer really care what the reason is? Probably not, there would be no way to verify my story.
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She may have relatives of her own to look after. Maybe she is burning out or she feels underappreciated. Support her whatever way you can, because dedicated caregivers are worth their weight in gold.
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I also forgot to mention that she may be leaving (due to family issues) later in the year for whatever that is worth.
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Thanks very much for your reply. In this particular situation in both cases she was celebrating both of the holidays with her family, thats why she was away. However, yes she does have some markets near her area that are much less expensive in general than where mom lives.
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Well, November was Thanksgiving and December was Christmas, so I imagine the additional, special items she bought were to help your mother celebrate those, don't you think? Maybe near her home she has a wonderful market, and she's buying fresh foods your mother wouldn't otherwise get so much as a sniff of.

I can see how you might worry about things slipping a bit, and want to stop them sliding, but I can't see how you can tackle it without hurting this kind woman's feelings. One way I half-thought of - getting her a little household accounts book and asking her to jot down "extras" in there - nnyyhhmmm, even that would make her wonder whether you're harbouring suspicions; and after five years she might rightly feel you should know her better.

Up to you, but speaking for myself I wouldn't pick now to start making her feel she's not really part of the family.
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I agree with all of the answers above. Imagine if you had to replace this caregiver. Even if you find someone as well qualified, your mother would probably be very upset. If the extra spending does represent a financial hardship, you may wish to address it that way. Explain that while you appreciate her thoughts and efforts, but money is a little tight, and that you will need to have a budget, or pre-approve any purchases over $ XX .
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As far as raises/bonueses go we have done many things to show appreciation
from raises to covering her online service to using payroll service to covering all food & board, etc.
Mom was a victim of id theft (unfortunately from the aide's teen son) in the past & so I am just being very cautious here. It was a very strange situation, and in my heart i feel she had no involvment but it was for a sig amt and was a horrible sit for everyone.
My mom's lack of awareness just makes it a bit more challenging. if she was more with it, I would not have given the receipts a 2nd hought. Plus there was no verbal explaining about what the items were either which kind of added to the situation. I probably should have questioned the specs on the spot but didnt. Thanks everyone for your input.
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She has been with you for five years she must be very good at her job. She is shopping on her time and it makes it easier for her when she doesn't have to take your mom. I can tell you that when I take my mom on errands it will take two to three times longer, and then there are the pit stops, and she becomes very tired. I'm surprised the caregiver takes her shopping as much as she does! That is quite a job in and of itself!
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It's always so nice to hear good stories about caregivers.

Here's a middle-of-the-road response from another paid caregiver .. and someone who is impeccable about money and receipts. I agree with the others that you can be grateful that she's thinking of your mom while she's off-duty. You can also express your concern for tracking expenses. Ask her to please list the items specifically on the receipt, at the time of purchase. While $30 or $40 may seem like peanuts to some, for many elderly who have a very tight budget it's a lot more than peanuts. What you might do, if you haven't already, is offer a specific monthly budget for groceries and miscellaneous expenses. Alternatively, you could place a maximum 'outside monthly allowance' for these kinds of expenses.

Just out of curiosity .. when was the last time you considered/gave her a raise? Expressed your appreciation for her level of care for your mom? I ask this so that you can consider how best to approach her, without offending her. You say she's trustworthy, except now you're questioning the veracity of the expenses, which implies a lack of trust, on some level. Hopefully, you can avert any difficulties and resolve it to everyone's satisfaction. Good luck!
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I'd love to chime in here, as a paid caregiver who very frequently shops for my clients on my own time. I don't always submit my receipts for reimbursement. What I do is tell the client (but the wife is sharp and understands) that it's my "treat". But if I am going to submit the receipt for reimbursement, I go over it with her. In this case, that's what your caregiver is doing. If she's making purchases that are special as you say, then she's thinking about your mom even when she's off duty. That is precious. She's a keeper.
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