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Live-in caregiver. I'm very upset need advice. . My clients meals consist of prepared soup with vegetables, made by the daughter and 1 day a week the odd piece of meat. I'm severely allergic to the few vegetables that she puts into it that if digested I'll have a severe attack. The daughter knows this. So she told me to purchase items for the second week I was there and I would be reimbursed to which she did follow through with. The next week I did the same but didn't ask to be reimbursed. Honestly it was salad for the 3 lunches and 3 dinners and fruits bagels for breakfast. No big expense by all means. Recently as a favor to the daughter of my client I stayed for an extra 2 24 hour shifts. As she herself was busy and could not care for her mom. So last week before work I purchased my items for my 5 day period. Consisting of the same and a special dinner I wanted to make my client which she was excited as it was not her repetitive intake of only soup. She tried different things as was very thrilled to have a bit of a variety to choose from. This time I erased more than half the items from the bill prior to showing her while receiving my pay and it totaled approx $40 for the 5 days which I thought would be fair. She looked me in the face and said she will not be reimbursing for what I had brought to eat. And that I was to eat the same frozen soups prepared for her mother. With those certain vegetables in there and to just take them out. I was totally stunned and reminded her of my allergies to which she replied that it was not her problem. Honestly my salary is less than half of what it should be for being a certified paw but I am not complaining as I like spending time with my client and I'm lucky if I get a total of 4 hours break through out my whole shift. I already don't want to go back there to have myself admitted to the hospital for a severe allergic reaction to what's being offered to me to eat. But I also don't think it's fair that I don't have a small budget given to me for food. What do I do?

If you are a live in caregiver why don't you prepare meals?

I bet if you talked to the daughter and negotiated meals she would probably appreciate having you cook and freeze some meals for her caregiving shifts.

I am a bit awed that you would expect them to provide and prepare meals for you. Maybe I am misunderstanding.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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First point I want to make is that YOUR number 1 responsibility is to take care of yourself. With food allergies your should NEVER risk eating anything you believe includes items you are allergic to. It's not only an expensive ER visit, it could be your life. As the doctor warned me after a couple of ER visits with an increasingly bad reaction, even with an epi pen you might not make it to the ER next time. so bring your own food and/or only eat what you prepare.

Second point is you're not wrong to expect reimbursement after it was agreed to; however, it sounds like you were not consistent about getting reimbursed so you contributed to opening the door for the daughter to mess with you.

Nothing is more "professional" than a written agreement properly executed. Your written agreement doesn't have to include a lot of legalize, it just needs to clearly state the terms (compensation, working conditions, services you provide). I suggest you include a food allowance (due to your allergies) and time and a half pay for any extra days you may work when requested at least 48 hours in advance of the shift beginning. If/when you choose to talk with the daughter, I suggest you have a written agreement to present.

Third, I don't understand the daughter stating she wants her mother to eat soup because she doesn't have time to prepare anything else. I would normally expect a live in care giver to prepare simple meals for the client. Could the daughter have taken your cooking a different meal and your client's appreciation of it as some kind of challenge to her control? Or maybe she feels guilty over it because she feels/knows she should be providing some variety in her mother's diet?

Fourth, your client's comment about going through several care givers because of how her daughter treats them leads me to believe you won't be there long regardless of whether you choose to stand up for yourself and talk with the daughter or not. I recommend looking for a new position; however if you choose to stay, stay with good grace. If you choose to stay after the daughter has treated you poorly, that does not give you the right to display anger or reduce the quality of your work over being "taken advantage of". When you choose to stay you agree to be 'taken advantage of", at least for the short term.

God bless you. Even if the daughter doesn't properly appreciate your efforts, I'm sure your client does.
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Meldio Jul 20, 2019
Thank you and yes I found out she was upset about me making her mother something other than soup.
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Sorry, I did not read all the comments. My eyes are just too tired.

You need to quit and report this woman to APS. What she is feeding your client is not enough. Client needs more than meat once a week. Is it really worth all this. Does the woman not know just having something your allergic to cooked in the soup u can still have a reaction to even if u remove it.
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TNtechie Jul 11, 2019
JoAnn, I'm not sure about needing meat more than once a week. I definitely agree people need protein daily, but you can get protein from beans (which might be in the vegetable soup), eggs, cottage cheese and other dairy, peanut butter, etc. But vegetable soup alone is definitely not a properly balanced diet.
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I've reread everything on this thread and I'm a little bit confused - you mention the vegetable soup that you and your client are expected to share and it sounds as though this is the only food available except for the things you bring in.
You also mention you are living in, so there should be provisions for more than one meal per day, surely you aren't expected to serve (and share) soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
And finally you mention you don't want to return unless there are changes because you fear ending up in the ER due to an allergic reaction - so this makes me wonder... where are you staying now, is the live in part of the arrangement only part time?
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Reply to cwillie
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The once a week meat thing shows me there could be cultural/traditional/financial differences to consider.
My childhood family was from Texas, meat at every meal, including breakfast for starters. As an ignorant adult, I continued the meat idea.
That said, even if you are from the same culture with similar traditions, barring any allergies, the differences in food may not be to your liking. Even from one house to the next house. Understanding those differences can be helpful.

For example, I want to apologize for using the word miserly in my description of your employer. Sorry.

If negotiating, would it be helpful to start again, asking your employer what she wants to do? Midkid makes a good point, not asking the employer to change the meals for you. At about this time, if it was me, I would be sneaking out for In N Out Burgers for meals. But that is just me.
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Reply to Sendhelp
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I would simply increase my salary by an dollar or two and make my own food.
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Reply to AlvaDeer
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There's too many variables at play here--you really can't trust the cook to avoid the foods you can't eat, so every meal you eat there is a recipe (pardon the pun) is a potential nightmare. A lot of people don't understand that true food allergies can be LIFE THREATENTING and not just 'a fussy eater'. I could see the daughter cooking with the vegetables in the soup and then just skimming the offenders out--you still have the allergens you just can't see them.

Just bring all your own food. All of it. If your salary was partially compensating your for meals eaten in, then renegotiate your salary. It can't be THAT much!

I would never have asked my clients' family to acquiesce in any way to MY dietary likes/dislikes/allergies. I was there to care for my client, not fuss food.

I see both points of view, and honestly, think you should take the high road and just bring your own food.
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Reply to Midkid58
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The client is basically a patient (trying to make a point here to give you information). She is on a special diet/soup.
What does the daughter eat? Is that any different?
You need an allergy free diet, also different.
The daughter may not have been aware prior to hiring you.

Again, renegotiate so you will buy your own food. Imo.

BTW, scrutinizing your post, looking at it from the opposite side from yours......
because if you could not tell, I am on your side trying to help...
No one who is that allergic would ever eat something (not ever, not at all) that would put them in the hospital with an allergic reaction. So, you will he buying your own food. To dramatize the dispute, by what you said:
" I already don't want to go back there to have myself admitted to the hospital for a severe allergic reaction to what's being offered to me to eat." could be misinterpreted to be a dramatic statement. Get it? Not being mean....
Also, one might ask then, (to be dramatic): Are you well enough to work?
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Meldio Jul 11, 2019
Yes I advised the daughter prior to starting my the position of the few food allergies that I have. I've had these allergies since childhood it's of certain vegetables (eggplants zucchini and celery) only which she puts into the soup because they like them. However I did suggest maybe excluding these certain items from my portions and substitute for others which can be done without a hassle just pour the broth into a smaller pot. I've asked if possible to substitute the soup for salad which is not a great added expense
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Thank you for your answers and yes I was paid for the extra hours worked
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I agree that you need to renegotiate, ask them to pay more and you can buy your own food. Of course the cheapskates likely will balk at that, which leaves you with another problem, to accept the status quo or not, to stay or go.

As for feeding the client - that is a gift from you, and as much as you care for her I wouldn't get into the habit of doing it. At some point you have to put your needs first, no one else ever will.
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Meldio Jul 11, 2019
The only items asked to reimburse were those to make a simple salads, a box of hamburgers and buns, a few cans of juice and fruit which was shared with the client The special dinner items were taken off the bill as well as snacks which I'd buy for myself regardless. I was taught to do something nice for those you care about and making her something she hasn't had in a long while put a big smile on her face but the situation with the daughter put a sour taste in my mouth.
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Begin as you mean to go on. If she agreed to reimburse for your food to avoid the allergies then you should be submitting it every week, not just sometimes.  

AND turning in all of your hours. (It's not clear whether you agreed to stay extra hours without charging, but you do mention being underpaid. This is already a recipe for building up resentment.)

But it sounds like you bought more/different things for your client which may NOT have been agreed to in advance.

What does your contract actually say about the hours you will work and your meals? This all needs to be in writing to avoid exactly what has happened here. "Due to food allergies, employer will reimburse up to X amount per week for employee meals." if that's what you both agreed to.

Then stick to the contract. No favors. Once you start, it becomes expected and it's hard to stop.

I would ask for a meeting with your employer and calmly explain that you were surprised at the food not being reimbursed since that's what she had agreed to, and find out if she has changed her mind. If so, you can decide whether you are being paid enough to buy your own food, (and just in general,) and decide whether you want to stay.

On the flip side your employer may decide to dismiss you -- they don't always even have to give a reason, so be prepared for that, even if you think it's unfair.
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Reply to JenniferLeigh
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Meldio Jul 11, 2019
No I was paid for the hours but will never do it again as it took time away family. She verbally told me to purchase items meant for meals and that would be reimbursed. As she doesn't know what they would be but it was items for salads burgers fruit and frozen juice cans. The dinner was a pasta, cannelloni stuffed with ricotta cheese and meat sauce that her daughter does not make for her she says it takes too long to prepare. I believe for the price of an average meal it says about 2.64 per meal so add it up 16 meals it's about 35 -40 dollars all together. That's what I presented to her with the other items scratched off the bill. For a live-in it's estimated at 160-200 per 24 hours with a 2-4 hours split up break daily I get less than 140 and not even 2 hours of break on Saturday and Sunday and Friday no break. So yes im being taken advantage of. The client did mention that she's had quite alot of caregivers recently but they've left due to situations concerning her daughter and how she treats them.
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You could be right, but that won't help you at all. The daughter has a budget, and is going to be miserly with food.

Buy your own food.
Never buy the client food.
1) her daughter doesn' t want you to.
2) You will not be reimbursed.

Renegotiate an acceptable salary.
1) Based upon you buying your own food. (The amount she did agree to reimburse you before.).
2) Based upon you don't work extra hours for free, ever, this is your living wage, you do not run a charity!

It is hard enough to be strict, care for someone without it costing something, somewhere. Always ask and get the money ahead of time if ever you need to spend on your client. Just don't spend your money on your client, be strict about that part. It is business. She is a client, not family.

Be strict about your breaks and time off. If the daughter is busy and you cover for her, right then negotiate those hours off in trade.

You are in a heart-wrenching giving job, good for you! It will take all you've got, and then some.
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Reply to Sendhelp
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Well unless you are prepared to quit you pay for your own food.
Who would cover for you while you are at the ER?
And who wants to be sick!

I suppose you had no idea that your clients diet would be so restrictive when you took the job but now you know to include your food allergies into the equation when the room and board is a portion of your compensation.

If it’s too big of an expense, start looking for another job.
Try not to let your employer spoil your mood. I know that’s easier said than done.

Sometimes it helps to own your portion of the problem.
1. Not negotiating in advance.
2. Doing favors and expecting them to be reciprocated.
3. Not being consistent.

I know I’m reaching here a bit but that’s all you’ve told us that I could see where you could have done something different.
It sounds like she has a mean streak and will take advantage of any opening you give her. Now you know.

Thank you for being a good care giver.
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