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Watch the cheese melt: Caregiver selection

What does the selection of a caretaker have to do with melting cheese? Wait… Read further. A selection of a caretaker is not an easy task. Included is a list of characteristics that I considered and implemented for the selection of a caretaker. This list provides first-hand experiences during the selection of a caretaker. Will intent of this document is to give you pointers that may assist you in selecting a caretaker. Furthermore, it is peppered with lessons learned during this selection of a caretaker for me. I am single and do not have a spouse that could assist with this selection or caretaker activities. Additionally, I live alone therefore the importance of a qualified knowledgeable caretaker was important.

Here are general characteristics you should seek in a caregiver:

Knowledgeable

Selected caretaker should have basic first aid knowledge. This knowledge may be called upon unexpectedly when you are in need of help. For example, the absence of this knowledge could have had worse results. A caretaker that was being utilized treated a sprained ankle of mine incorrectly. This could have been worse. This strain was not confirmed in a broken bone may have been the issue. This caretaker oblivious to this potential break moved my foot in various directions dismissing my screams of discomfort and may make an uneducated diagnosis of “all is well”.

Another fall linked to the MS resulted in the impacting my rib into a hard table. Similar to the ankle twisting excitement this same caretaker hurled me from the wheelchair onto the mattress and once again I screamed in pain. Like before, she stated in an uneducated fashion “all is well”.

Responsible

Your caretaker has the responsibility to keep you on track. That means for example they should remind you of needed medication. Perhaps with many persons, it is common to forget and in this case forgetting MS medication.

Their responsibility is linked to timeliness and communication. An example of a different caretaker failed to come to my house to help me. As a result, I lay on the floor for three hours. The caregiver’s telephone number was not operational and I could not contact her for help. As a result I called for EMS help. This is not a problem however it’s an additional cost that was never needed. Furthermore, her absence resulted in my refrigerator being empty for three days. At that point near day three I started to eat condiments and leftover meals that I had stored in the freezer. Eating meals from the freezer is not the issue; I keep meals in the freezer only for emergencies and to not waste food.

Their responsibility links to needed medication, basic first aid, and accessibility, physical assistance for example accessing heights that are not reachable from the wheelchair and transferring from different surfaces. In summary, your caregiver must accept the responsibility of being in contact. You may need help and you need your caregiver to be in communication.

Skilled

Your selected caretaker should have basic skills needed to live at home. To clarify they should be able to make simple meals, cut fruits and vegetables, and perform general housekeeping. For instance I learned that I needed help cutting fruits after I punctured the palm of my hand with a knife in the kitchen while cutting fruit.

Respect your dignity

Although dignity is not always tangible it is however apparent. The importance of maintaining your dignity was realized when it was ignored. One caregiver wanted to arrange my house the way she liked it. I have items in my house position so they are accessible to me while I am seated in a wheelchair or standing at a grab bar. Furthermore I have the cabinets lowered and the upper shelves removed from the refrigerator. This caregiver ignored my arrangement and place things were she considered them as aesthetically acceptable.

Another caregiver excelled at indifference. She wheeled me in my wheelchair front of the toaster oven and stated to me a command to watch the cheese melt so she could talk on her cell phone. When she laughed my house she I trash one of my couches. This instance and her behavior were devastating to my dignity, I have a doctorate college degree in engineering and doing such a simpleton activity was humiliating.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • MArroyo
    2 years ago

    Thanks for this article. I have a caretaker who was my father’s caretaker while he was in hospice care. So he’s well known to the family which is good—and not so good. He’s responsible, helpful, etc.. But often wants to discuss (gossip) about my other family members with very probing questions because he knows the whole family from his time at my parents home. I’m uncomfortable with this but don’t want to be rude. There also are some boundary issues again because of the familiarity with the family. Any suggestions?

  • cmonteressi author
    2 years ago

    MARROYO: Thank you for taking the time to read the article. I have been through approximately 10 caregivers which resulted in frustration that led me to write an article on how to select the caregiver. The examples I gave in the article are true currently I have a caregiver for Saturday and a different one with the same company during the week.

    Selecting a caregiver is not a simple task and is filled with frustration and setbacks. Your question “any suggestions?”… I think would be based on honesty and open communication as a foundation. What I mean by this will depend on their experience and willingness to help.

    Given that I have multiple caregivers each with their own abilities and motivation I developed a list to lessen the repeat of information for each caregiver. This list is composed of wants and don’t wants. I having a fixed list miscommunication or absence of communication was lessened. For instance, in my house I have items placed strategically so they can be reached from a wheelchair or a grab bar. Sharing this knowledge with the caregiver and the need for repeated placement of the items had designated locations greatly reduced errors or frustration.

    After the list was printed, the contents and expectations were demonstrated and shown to aid giving caregiver. This may seem detailed but I found that it helped avoid misunderstanding and aggravation. Furthermore, I was up front with the caregiver to avoid thinking such as, “you never told me…”.

    To augment this list and this organization of the items, I explained to the caregiver the reasons for specificity. Their use of such detail will depend on a caregiver’s experience, understanding, and motivation. For instance I explained why they should not move a skeletal joint such as a twisted ankle due to the possibility of worsening the injury.

    The activity list that I am referencing is not final or all inclusive, but functions well as a reminder for a caregiver, processed check by me to determine all is complete, and a consistent training tool for future caregivers. Additionally, this list directs me to augment it as needed.

    Your inquiry “any suggestion?” May not have been answered but if you want I could speak to you directly about this issue, let me know. Thank you for your patience.

  • MArroyo
    2 years ago

    Wow. Thank you for your very thorough response. The list of DOs and DON’Ts is a great idea that I’m going to use. I’m afraid I’m going to be looking for another caregiver soon. Today he showed up for an hour and said another family member of MINE called him to take her grocery shopping. Keep in mind, I scheduled this day and I PAY him. Now instead of getting help I need, I’m frustrated and have to deal not only with the caregiver but the family member who called him away. Like you, I am a retired professional and this is SO unprofessional and disrespectful.

  • MArroyo
    2 years ago

    ps I had the cell phone problem with him too. And had to say very FIRMLY and more than once, that speaking on the phone while working in my home was NOT okay with me. My Dad hated this too but it persisted, but I made it clear it was a deal breaker for me.

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