Nursing home neglect and abuse is a real problem. It can be especially alarming because not only does physical abuse occur, but verbal abuse is also possible. It’s even scarier if your loved one has Alzheimer’s or cognitive difficulties that would make it impossible for them to tell you if they are experiencing problems with their care provider.
The good news is that there are a lot of wonderful care providers out there who would never imagine harming your loved one in any way. Instead, they are called to care for those who need help, and finding the right person can greatly increase your loved one’s quality of life.
The trick is finding the perfect fit for your loved one and your family.
Different licenses and credentials are required, depending on whether you are interested in a nursing home or you want to hire a home health aide to come and care for your loved one every day. It’s your job to make sure they have those credentials.
It’s fairly easy to look up the credentials of nursing homes and care communities. Finding the credentials of a home health aide can be a bit more difficult, but no less important. Consider going through an agency that checks for these kinds of credentials. If you want to work directly with an aide, don’t be afraid to ask them about their educational background, what they are licensed to do, and what they aren’t licensed to do.
Licensure and credentials are extremely important to look for when searching for someone to care for your loved one, but experience is equally as important. It’s through experience that care providers are able to hone their skills and become more confident in the services they provide.
The question is, how much experience is enough? It’s true that years, and even decades, of experience is a good sign that the person or facility you’re interviewing knows the best way to care for people like your loved one, but you should also dig into what kind of experience they have. Care professionals who have experience working with people who face the same challenges as your loved one is better than hiring someone with years of experience that isn’t relevant to your situation.
Managing medical matters for your loved one can be difficult and complex. You don’t want it to be even harder because you can’t seem to get ahold of your care provider, or they don’t get back to you in a timely manner.
Your provider doesn’t necessarily have to be available every minute of every day, but they should always be available when they are with your loved one. Clarifying expectations is important too. Agree on the best methods of communication and how quickly you can expect a response.
A few convenient ways to communicate with a care provider include:
Professionalism is important, but just because someone is qualified, experienced, and professional doesn’t mean they are a good fit for your family.
You should also look for personality traits that are important when it comes to demonstrating care for someone who will not be able to do everything for themselves. For example, you’ll want to find someone who is very patient, especially if your loved one can be stubborn. Compassion is important, as it decreases the chances of abuse, and dependability means you won’t have to worry about whether your loved one got the medication they needed at the right time.
It’s possible that you found a care provider that looks like the perfect fit, but something just doesn’t seem right. You might get a weird vibe from them during an interview, or you may notice that your nonverbal loved one reacts strangely when that person is near. No matter what kind of negative feeling you’re having, you should trust your instincts.
Your instincts are often right, but even if they are not, you’ll still save yourself some grief. If you hire someone you aren’t quite comfortable with, you’ll likely spend a lot of time worrying and losing sleep until they have enough time to prove you wrong.
Don’t just hire the first care provider you find. Interview a few different people and facilities. Armed with these tips, you’ll undoubtedly find the right fit for your family.