This is something that every really good home care agency experiences — the client falls in love with the caregiver. In some ways, that’s great, but it is a double edged sword.
First, we stress to our Home Care Aides — and to our clients — that the relationship between the two of them is and must remain a professional one. That does not mean that they should not care personally, but, for the Home Care Aide, there is a job to be done, every shift. They are not family members or guests in their clients home. The are providing critical support for Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and Instrumental ADLs, such as cleaning, cooking, bathing, dressing and so forth. That service role is primary.
At Support For Home, we even make employees sign waivers forfeiting any chance of inheritance, and gifts are very closely monitored. We do not want our clients or their families negatively impacted in any way. That is the case regardless of whether the client has any level of dementia.
The second concern about emotional bonding with the Home Care Aide is what sometimes happens when the caregiver is ill or needs time off from an assignment. Ideally, the client will remember that we, the agency, are the ones who assigned the wonderful Home Care Aide, in the first place. They will say, yes, I still need the services, and I have confidence that you will give me someone equally good as a backup. Thankfully, that is the norm.
Unfortunately, some clients sacrifice the care they actually need, feeling that no one else could possibly provide that care. “If Mary is not available, then I don’t want anyone.” That puts the client in jeopardy, since, if they did not need the care, the shift would not have been scheduled in the first place.
We actually had one extreme case of this recently. When an employee did not show up for an assignment until an hour after they were supposed to and gave no indication of recognizing this as a problem, we terminated the employee. When a different client was told that the Home Care Aide was being replaced, because that person no longer worked for us, the client’s response was not, “Thank you for watching out for the best interests of Support For Home clients.” Instead, the client felt that we were making life “miserable.” Even though after two days with the new caregiver the client said the new person was “great,” the bond with the prior Home Care Aide simply could not be overcome.
We want to make it very clear that this is not a complaint. As mentioned earlier, a bond is a very good thing in some ways. Our clients need to trust our employees. Rather, it is a recognition of the importance of emotion in senior homecare. It is not just about services X, Y and Z. The really good homecare agencies keep that in mind, all the time.