Even if you tried hard to find a hired caregiver that had the right personality type and skill set for your parent or senior loved one’s needs, there’s always a risk of issues coming up after they start the job.
Having to draw boundaries, speak hard truths, or even go so far as to fire a professional caregiver is a difficult issue to face. Read our tips on how to handle this intricate situation.
6 Steps to Take When a Caregiver Isn’t the Right Fit
Professional caregivers have a challenging and intimate job. That makes dealing with it especially complicated when there’s a problem.
If your hired caregiver isn’t the right fit, there are a few good strategies you can employ:
1. Assess the issue to make sure you’re not the problem.
This is a recommendation from a trained psychotherapist, Jasmin Terrany. “First it is important to make sure that the issue isn’t coming from your end,” she explains.
This part is hard because it requires some real self-awareness. But the aging and health issues that cause the need to hire a professional caregiver also cause a lot of high emotions. Dealing with somebody professionally in that state can be challenging. But if you can diagnose a problem on your end, you can fix it.
Terrany adds, “Many conflicts in relationships are challenges in communication.” To start communicating more effectively with your caregiver, she recommends making an effort to make sure everything you ask of them is communicated clearly – avoid ambiguity and keep instructions specific. A lot can also be accomplished by taking the right tone. “Treat the other person like a teammate rather than an opponent,” she suggests. “Set the intention to come to a solution together, that is in both parties’ best interest.”
2. Have an honest talk about the issue.
If, after an honest assessment, you confirm that there is a real problem with how your hired caregiver is doing the job, then in most cases the next step is to have a talk with them about it.
If the problem you’re having is something serious like abuse or theft, then you may want to skip ahead. But if it’s something potentially manageable like noticing they frequently come late or seeing them get impatient with your parent or senior loved one, then it’s worth giving them a chance to recognize and work on the problem before jumping to firing them.
Frame the issue and keep your tone professional, so you’re more focused on what you need your professional caregiver to do better than what they’ve done wrong so far.
3. Gauge their response.
Making a mistake is inevitable, but the key thing is how they respond when they realize it. Once you’ve taken steps to clearly communicate to your hired caregiver what’s not working now and what you’d like them to do differently, your next actions hinge on what they do next.
Kristie Chadwick, care manager at Paradise Living Centers, says, “How the caregiver responds to this direction is very telling in what your next steps should be. Trust your gut here. He or she should be open to any suggestions or insights into dealing with your family member.”
If you’re doing your best to behave like a professional, now it’s their turn to do the same. A professional should be able to take feedback and do their best to incorporate it without getting defensive. If at this point you continue to have issues with them, then it’s time to consider moving on.
4. Let them go, but gently and professionally.
If you decide that firing your private caregiver is the way to go, don’t feel guilty about the decision. Emily Mendez, M.S. EdS, says, “Most people who require a caregiver have complex medical needs and require close monitoring and support. If the caregiver is not meeting their needs, then it could translate into poorer health outcomes for the person.”
The stakes are too high here to continue on with a professional caregiver that can’t do the job adequately. At this step as in the others, continue to keep your communication clear and professional.
Your caregiver will likely get upset, but don’t get defensive or meet them with the same level of emotion; simply stick to a script of letting them know it’s not working for you.
5. Offer to give references, but only if you can do so honestly.
If you let your hired caregiver go because they’re not a good fit, but you do still believe they’re a perfectly good caregiver, then make it clear that you’ll gladly provide them a reference in the future.
If the behavior that made you decide to end things crossed a line where you don’t feel comfortable making this offer though, that’s okay. You definitely shouldn’t feel pressured to be dishonest with future families looking for a good caregiver.
But if you can do so honestly and morally, do your best to help them find their next placement.
6. Provide specific suggestions for improvement.
Knowing you’re unhappy won’t help your professional caregiver do better; they need to understand what you want them to do moving forward.
Chadwick recommends explaining to the caregiver an approach to the problem you’ve found successful. As an example, she suggested saying something like “I have found it goes so much smoother with my mom if I pick out most of her outfit and then give her a choice between two shirts.”
You’ve likely gained a good amount of experience in what works with your loved one. While remembering that your caregiver doesn’t need to do things exactly as you do, offer tips and strategies you’ve picked up that can help them better handle the job of caring for your loved one.
Finding the right caregiver for a loved one is difficult and many families have to hire one or two before they find one that’s a right fit. It’s awkward and uncomfortable to address issues that come up with a hired caregiver, but it’s important to your parent’s ongoing health and wellbeing to do so.
Make sure you’re careful and thoughtful in your approach. In most cases, do your best to work things out before ending things completely. Ultimately, go with your gut and be ready to take the hard steps to make sure your senior loved one is getting the care they need.