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I've been working in home health care for a little over 3 months & I usually work during the day, but recently I thought I’d try night shifts. On my fourth night shift in a row (didn’t know this was a bad idea), I dosed off for 10 min, my client's wife came in the living room and saw me and was so upset. I apologized endlessly bc that’s all I could do. She said “this won’t happen again,” “I don’t pay you to sleep,” “I pay too much money for you to not be awake.” She said she tried to yell my name to take her husband to the bathroom. I’m extremely worried I’m going to lose my job over this. It’s the first time something like this has ever happened. Thoughts?

Night shift is not for everyone. Two neighbors of mine are nurses who only work night shift because they are "night owls" and have never had an easy time waking up early. They say they don't really feel awake until noon. I've asked them how they manage to keep awake overnight and they will walk the floor, check in on their patients, drink tea, have a snack, read, chart on their patients, and basically do "busy work" to make the time pass.

I would offer this woman some help like folding laundry or organizing her pantry or tasks that are quiet but will keep you busy while you keep an ear out for her or her husband needing assistance.

Try not to worry because good CNAs are hard to find and, even if she does complain to your agency, an employee who owns their mistake and apologizes is becoming harder and harder to find.

Also remember that we are all human and we are humans taking care of other humans. Let she who is without sin cast the first stone. If she's unable to let go of this mistake, can you ask your agency for a new assignment?

Four shifts in a row sounds like a lot to me.
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Reply to NYDaughterInLaw
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Well, you were honest and told her the truth. It’s most likely because you’re transitioning into a new schedule.

Also, you did apologize which was absolutely the correct response. I don’t know what else you could have done. Have you spoken to the agency that you work for to try to explain? Not sure if that would be helpful or not.

Do you think she will speak to the agency?

Do you want to continue working nursing nights or would you prefer to go back to days? Do you have other responsibilities during the day that you are not able to sleep? Trying to burn the candle at both ends which obviously won’t work for either you or your client.

I do understand your client being upset. I feel that you understand that as well or you wouldn’t be upset.

Tell us a little more. Did you feel like working at night would be an easier, less responsibility? You do still have to be available for when your client needs you so it’s imperative to sleep during the day.
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom
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Not that I excuse the rude behavior, but I think in your situation, and those other caregivers are in, you're not dealing with professional bosses or managers who have experience in working with others and/or managing.   Tact is obviously not one of the wife's strong points.

I would act pre-emptively and raise the issue ASAP with your agency, so they're not caught off guard.     And ask them for any suggestions in adjusting to night-time work.   That shows that you're attempting to address the different needs of night work.

And have you considered an alternate of working in a facility with more staff to respond in the event one  person isn't available, and also where you're working with more experienced and hopefully professional supervisors?

I'm curious though, and just have a suspicion that this woman is not going to be easy to work for.    Is "yelling" her primary means of communication when she needs something?
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Reply to GardenArtist
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onlydaughter39 Dec 23, 2019
I had 1st hand experience with a caregiver for my Dad that on numerous occassions would nod off on morning shifts. As a daughter, who has been thru years of aging parents & home care aides, you're already dealing with so much. When you hire someone to work in your family home, you just want them to do what they've been asked to do!! I get her being upset. Don't jump to the conclusion that she was "yelling" etc. It is EXTREMELY hard to find good caregivers that are the right fit. Maybe night shifts are not a good fit for YOU. Taking responsibility for your actions in someone's home is key & discussing with your agency. I think most people expect when you use an agency & pay top dollar, the helpers should already be well trained & know what their strengths & weaknesses are.
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Thank you all for replying ! Update ! I did not get fires and my agency was extremely impressed with me that I owned up for my mistake and contacted them before my client did ! They gave me new assignments & I never went back to my former client ! Thank you all for being so supportive and kind !
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Reply to Cna171777
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Llamalover47 Dec 28, 2019
Cna171777: Thank you for your update! That's great news!💞💞
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It happened, you said you were sorry and you have learned. Let it go, it's over and it won't happen again. I do agree you may want to stay on day shifts, and I can imagine the fear you feel,, but you did your best. I work in a major hospital and imagine my surprise when we were told as long as you answer your calls and pagers.. you can take a nap! I am not making this up! Your client was not harmed.. so hopefully the wife will get over it. I do hear from my night shift co workers that is it better to be either day or night shift.. not to try to do both. Heck I have trouble doing 3 days shifts in a row, and I know many who take a short nap during the day.
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Reply to pamzimmrrt
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As a former hospice provider who worked nights frequently, I understand how easy it is to fall asleep on the job. I'm not talking blankets and pillows but the kind of sleep where you nod off while you're sitting up.

Some families encouraged me to get some rest while my client was asleep and some jobs were "awake" jobs, where you're expected to stay awake.

I don't think you committed a cardinal sin but I understand where the wife was coming from. If she was yelling your name from her bedroom to take your client to the bathroom, this says two things: the wife is a caregiver for her husband and is even caregiving from her bedroom during the night. She's wound up like a top and is suffering burnout. Secondly, if this woman and/or your company gives you a second chance with this client, beware because she will be breathing down your neck and micromanaging the care of her husband.

If you do another night shift, my suggestion is you drink a large coffee and bring crossword puzzles or other brain-stimulating activities. Things to do in the wee hours when it feels like you're going to die of exhaustion.

You made a mistake and everyone makes mistakes. You've apologized, that's all you can do. And you can be assured that you're not the only caregiver who has ever fallen asleep on the job.

Hang in there, this will pass. Let us know how it all turns out.
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Reply to Eyerishlass
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You are human and you overextended yourself.

I didn't pay for HomeHealthCare - but they didn't take my DH to the bathroom. I was responsible for his toilet needs.

Learn from this experience - but fatigue is fatigue and as I said, you are only human. You should get a 2nd chance. But it might be time to be moved to another patient, just for your own peace of mind. Speak with your supervisor. Don't wait for this woman to report you, talk to your supervisor on your own.
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Reply to RayLinStephens
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Tell your wife's client to find someone else or tell her to take care of her own. See how fast she will be nicer to you. If your intentions are good and you are doing your best you should feel no guilt or fear. I am sure you can find a job somewhere else. Not everyone is a caring caregiver. Care giving is probably one of the most difficult of all jobs. Your client's wife is definitely stressed and upset over her husband's condition and her situation. God Bless you and hope things works out for you. You are not the only one who has not been appreciated. Be strong and know that you are doing God's work.
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Reply to meima1955
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FloridaDD Dec 27, 2019
If OP is from an agency, they will  just send her someone else.  If they won't, there are likely other agencies.  I suspect OP will not get fired, but just shifted to another client.
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I would not beat myself up over this as when You start working night shifts your Body clock is all out of kilter, and even though You might feel exhausted in the mornings when your shift finishes it is extremely difficult to sleep sound
for 7 or 8 hours in the day time as you are going against the grain of nature. If you are on medication consider getting back on day work only as meds work far better in the day time. It is advisable to speak to your Boss, or Supervisor to explain what happened and why before the complaint is made by the Customer. Request a transfer to a different Patient as this will get that Lady off Your back and you will get a fresh start.
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Reply to Johnjoe
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Very happy for you! I could tell that you cared. Otherwise you would not have been so concerned and posted that you apologized. Big hugs!
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom
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