Mom's live-in caregiver is constantly late when I give her time off. What should I do?

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I'm talking like anywhere from an hour to three hours late, not just a few minutes. She has never called either and forgets to take her phone so I can't get hold of her. Maybe I'm stuck on principal and keeping one's word but I really stress out every time this happens. I told her from the beginning (and put it in writing), she had 3 chances - well, I've given her five and each time she says it will never happen again. Then it does. One time, she left at 1am and didn't return until 3am and never asked to leave - she just left. I feel taken advantage of and don't really know what to do about it. She gets a minimum of 18 hrs off/week. Your feedback is appreciated.

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Thanks for the update. I'm glad that it all came out good. What a difference, isn't it?
Our first and only paid caregiver for Saturdays was a gem. Months later, she started slacking off. I hired her to take care of both my bedridden parents. Dad kept complaining to me that she was either sleeping or outside in our garden (she started one.) I never realized how much she slacked off until one day she asked her friend to cover for her. Oh my! That friend did a lot inside the house and with dad. She even cooked a meal for him. Our regular one always burned the pot, spilled on the burner and she never cleaned up her messy spills. Etc... After experiencing her replacement, I realized how much our regular cg had slacked off a lot! I sure hope your new cg continues to be a gem.
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Wow. I call that a result, Sooz! Well done to you, on all counts (and I hope the new one keeps her halo shiny) :)
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Just a note - if it matters at all any more .... I did fire her, finally. I had to physically pack up all of her stuff (something really smelled - found a bag of pot at the bottom of the trash can and a straw in one of her drawers) and set it out front. It was a scene at about 11PM when she returned with excuses - and it was my poor hearing that was really at fault - I thought she asked how I was when in fact she said she asked if she could go out - my answer: Yes, fine, fine. So when I found her gone I immediately thought she'd done it again - sneaked out without asking. Anyway, long story short, it was bound to happen. I just feel awful that the way it happened, she for once wasn't at fault. I have since found another caregiver who is an absolute angel. I also found the first one another position with someone far away from here where she won't be distracted. I think she learned a lot from working for me. So good came out of a pretty sh***ty situation.
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So true, all of it countrymouse. I feel really bad about myself when my backbone turns into a noodle. So even before reading your very eloquent, well written and very much appreciated suggested course of action, I did pretty much all that you said to do (may have gotten to the point of self-preservation and believing in my integrity more than allowing this one thing to happen again. Yes, the tears were many, I do feel bad for her having no where to go, but I didn't back down. I always considered her to be an employee, not a friend, although there is a little of that too. She said she understands why I fired her, that she didn't realize (or maybe denied it) that by being late and not calling me, she was really taking advantage of my (noodle? LoL..) leniency and natural tendency to avoid trouble by compliance. She is packed and is leaving and was also grateful to me when I handed her a job I found for her on craigslist and other numbers she could call to arrange to have some where to be (women's shelters, the Y, etc) and I gave her a number to call that offers counselling for those that are low on cash. I know I've learned a whole lot about myself and from the experience. But you and everyone here are right; if I let her back in, the thing would inevitably repeat itself (as it did in fact). The stress it has caused me, well, it's a killer. This time caring 100% for my mother and all of the things that have been part of it has really taken it's toll. I used to be a really nice, very warm wet noodle; now I'm still a noodle but maybe a little more dried off and rather cold. Anyhow... thanks so much for taking the time to support me and give me your feedback - Countrymouse and everyone, hugs and gratitude to all of you.
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Yes.

Speaking of "serious about the job" what does it say in your contract with her? The written contract laying out her conditions of employment - pay, hours, entitlements, responsibilities and so forth. There is one, right?

If she's in breach of it, and you've given her written warnings, then she's fired. As far as her rights of occupancy go, can you not find out what your area's regulations say, exactly? - but in general, if accommodation is part of her employment terms and conditions, I should have thought that if you terminate the job you terminate her "tenancy" too. No?

The conversation you need to have with her is a difficult one, and with respect it isn't just she who has blown it each time. You tell her she's fired, she cries and says she's got nowhere to go and she won't do it again, you back down, and - guess what happens??!! I know you know this, I'm just hoping the absurdity of it will bring a sigh and a smile, help you put your finger on where the problem is.

Look objectively at the conversation. What difference does it make to her who you've got lined up to replace her? Why should she care whether that person is better, worse or much the same? Seriously, by putting forward that kind of case what you are asking her to do is say "oh I see! Well, she sounds just wonderful! You'll be much better off with her here instead of me! Okay, I'll leave today then…"

Yes. Well. Quite.

To complete this conversation successfully, you have to be clear about what the bottom line of it is: namely, that her employment is terminated for disciplinary and contractual reasons and that you therefore require her to leave by [date]. What happens after that with your household is not her concern. Where she goes and what she does is not your concern.

Having said that, I suspect you have been counselling or befriending her (I suspect this because how else do you get any impression of what her boyfriend is keen on?). Since you have already been doing it, you had better finish the job by collecting some pointers for her towards alternative employment and alternative accommodation. Phone numbers, names of agencies, YWCA contact details, whatever. Put the information in a folder and hand it to her. This would be charitable and constructive - but thus far and no further, because you are NOT taking responsibility for what later becomes of her. Do and say nothing that is not directly related to her leaving as planned.

So two things to remember:
1. She's fired.
2. She must be packed and gone by [insert date].

Before you begin, consciously put aside any desire you have to be liked. I may be wrong but I think that could be where it's all going wrong - and most of us have fallen into that trap every so often, surely.
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Yes [sigh] I gave her another chance. This last one was the 4th, not the 5th.... sorry 'bout that. She has a boyfriend that lives close by and I'm pretty sure that's where she goes. I'm paying her $2,000/mo. I have the warnings in writing, each time she blew it, I wrote her so I everything documented too. I just have to find the right way to let her go and make sure she doesn't take anything or make up some story and go to law enforcement or some other authority. I just need to ask her to leave - today. I'll have all of you at my back to give me the right words and do it the right way, right? She says that being late or keeping her word has nothing to do with taking care of my mom. It has everything to do with it! I have some applicants already too; just have to find the right team. I'm just a bit worried she won't leave as she doesn't really have anywhere else to go, except back to the boyfriend - and I get the feeling he doesn't want her there either. I've seen stories here about if the caregiver has lived at your home for more than a month, she's considered a tenant and I'd have to file a 30 day pay (?) or Quit notice if she really insists on staying and I'd need the sherriff to get her out. Can she do this? Does she have the right or do I? I have a linear list of all the times she messed up? I mean is she an employee or a tenant? Both? Sheez. Help me out here folks. No use repeating what I should have done, I know it and I'm doing the self-flagelation in my head all day everyday so please, what do I do if she won't leave? Should I say something like I'm going to have to go thru an agency or payroll service or that I need someone who is more serious about the job, someone who's going to school for a career in geriatrics, 'cause the ladies I've found are like a breath of fresh air. Young, want the experience more than the paycheck, have taken care of a relative and/have had just one or two long term jobs. Far cry from what I have here. "nuf said. Pay it forward Thanks...
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Gee, Sooz, I thought that we had established that this was a mentally ill homeless person who was very unreliable. do you really want this person caring for your loved one? What's the problem with firing her?
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Why are you continuing to let this caregiver act this way. You complained about her a couple of months ago on this site but did not take anyone's advise on how to handle the situation. Quit complaining and terminate her.
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I have had lateness as a problem when I was working...but as bad as my internal clock is, my lateness was about 10min. 3 hours and no call is a sign that your caregiver really does not want to be there. It is time to find a new care giver. Be sure to get references, I think there is something on line to check for criminal activity. Or go with an agency ($25 an hour out of your pocket, not so much in theirs, but they get insurance. The agency should have checked/bonded their employee).
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Send her packing....
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