A week or so ago, I got a call at Support For Home, from someone working for a conservator, managing home care for an elder with Alzheimer’s. The conservator’s representative wanted to discuss something that she found very disturbing, on the part of another home care agency that was being used to help provide care. The subject was gift giving on the part of the client. Again, I want to stress that this particular client has Alzheimer’s.
Now, the relationship between the agency employee / caregiver and the client is a professional one, not that of a friend or family member. Maintaining that professional relationship is very, very important. At the same time, occasionally some clients do give gifts to their caregivers. It happens — but it should never happen or be accepted if the client has dementia of any form. It is not encouraged or expected or even “normal”. Families also do give gifts, on occasion. Again, it is not and should not be expected. So, let us start with what our own policy is, from our employee handbook:
- You may accept gifts from clients valued at no more than $50, unless the client has any form of dementia or other mental impairment. Any gifts exceeding that amount are to be reported to Support For Home for approval prior to acceptance. Regardless of the amount , you are to inform Support For Home administrative team of the gift.
- As an employee, you are required to sign a general waiver of beneficiary. It is understood that by doing so you are waiving all rights to any beneficiary status in any client’s will…
As far as waiving being a beneficiary, that is the case regardless of whether the client has any form of dementia. On gift giving, nothing is allowed (except by the family).
So, what was the conservator’s representative concerned about? The other home care agency that was involved in providing care had a form, in their materials at the client’s home, for her to sign, indicating that she would be giving gifts to caregiver employees of the agency.
The first objection — and I share it — is that such a form actually encourages gift giving from a client. It establishes gifting as some kind of expected behavior by the client. It is not and should not be. Period.
But the real shame here is that the client has Alzheimer’s! Why would such a form be put into the client’s home in the first place is bad enough, but to introduce it when the client has dementia is ridiculous. The conservator’s representative was relieved that we were on the same page, and shocked that the management of the other home care agency, in her words, “just didn’t get it,” when she called about it.
Home care agencies, straighten up! Was this malicious? No. Was this very poorly thought through? Believe it.
Best wishes. Bert