When the time comes that your elderly parent or loved on needs help it may feel like nobody can respect and cherish them like you do. Whether they need help to continue living in their own home or they need to make the move to residential care, it can be very difficult to find the care solution that is perfect for them.
Virginia Morris, author of “How to Care for Aging Parents“ and Care.com offer these simple guidelines to find senior care with a heart.
Here are the checkpoints for both facilities and in-home caregivers:
- Get personal insight: As with many things, getting a trusted recommendation is helpful. Start asking neighbours and friends, posting on message boards and reading online reviews.
- Listen for money talk: Too much emphasis on money may indicate that someone’s heart is in the wrong place. However, be sure you understand all the costs involved in your parent’s care.
- Feel the love: When interacting with caregivers, notice how they touch the senior. Are they gentle when helping a resident stand up? Do they pat them gently when speaking to them? Touch conveys affection.
- Look for your involvement: Remember you are a crucial part of the care team. Your involvement will always be vital. The person or facility you hired to help your loved one will be a crucial part of your life. How can you partner with them? Do they use Skype, emails, phone calls? Are drop-bys welcome?
In-Home Caregiver Assessments
Here are some things to look for senior care:
- Look for eye-contact: Caregivers should make eye contact when speaking to you or your parent. Be wary if a person repeatedly directs personal questions to you while ignoring your loved one if they are able to communicate.
- Listen for a calling: Look for someone who seems to genuinely enjoy the elderly or who even speaks authentically of having a calling for working with seniors.
- Be alert to professionalism: While a senior caregiver may soon seem like family, their attitude should be strictly professional. For instance, asking about watching TV, bringing children to work, or other special treatment may be a red flag.
- Check references: Sounds obvious, but many people overlook this critical step. Ask for more references than the candidate offers, including any previous employer, teacher or college professor, neighbor. See if they have a LinkedIn or Facebook profile to find mutual connections you can explore.
Here are some specifics to consider when touring facilities:
- Be an investigative reporter: Drop into the facility (sometimes unexpectedly) at various times to determine if the quality of care is the same around the clock. Do the residents appear comfortable or do they look unkempt? Also, use this time to talk to other families about their experiences.
- Don’t be fooled by good looks: While you want your parents to be in pleasant surroundings, they — and you — will likely be happiest with kind, attentive, quality care. Don’t ignore appearances, but focus on the people caring for your loved one.
- Look for signs of respect: Honouring people as individuals shows caring. Do employees call residents by name? Are they flexible about residents’ preferred time to eat, sleep, get dressed? Do they show interest in residents’ personal history — enjoying them as people, not just as patients?
- Tune in to details: Small things often convey how much heart a facility has for clients. For instance, are birthdays or anniversaries celebrated? Are there thoughtful extras offered free of charge?
- Value freedom: A nursing home isn’t a prison. Residents should have as much independence as appropriate, while being properly protected. Is transportation available? Can people snack when they want, visit each other freely, wake up early, make everyday decisions about their care?
In the end, your own heart will tell you if this caregiver or facility really does care. Trust your gut. Nobody can replace you, but with a little time and thought, you can find senior care with a heart.