nurse

In my last blog, selecting a home health aide, I showed you how to find a home health aide agency and the process of how it all works on getting a home health aide to come to your home. Now that you have an aide coming to your home I will show you how to interact with her and avoid the pitfalls of offending her. I will show you the key elements that will establish integrity, respect, and trust.

Your aide will give you a handout of the rights that you and your caregiver have on the day she comes to write up your care plan. Study and educate yourself about these rights for they will help you to know how to act with your home health aide. They will also spare you a lot of legal trouble. Now, let’s talk about the key elements that will help you in the long run. Those key elements are body language, appropriate actions and conversation, proper training, and showing gratitude.

Body language

You as a patient receiving the care must be aware of your body language. Your body language sends a message to the caregiver showing that you are nice or insensitive. Showing the appropriate body language to your caregiver will ensure a smooth and productive visit.

Let’s start with a greeting. When greeting your caregiver, it is best to have a welcoming smile on your face and a welcoming tone in your voice. For instance, if your caregiver comes in and tells you good morning in a cheerful way, it is only fair to greet him back in the same manner. Do not take your bad attitude out on him! He already has enough to deal with throughout the day, and it would really help him, you, and others to start the visit right. I have seen and heard about aides that were mistreated and abused by their patients, making them feel inadequate and unappreciated. It takes a special person to do home health care. Plus, aides drive to all their patients houses, thus making long hours in gridlock traffic.

Actions

Now that you know the stresses aides go through, allow me to show you how to disarm a volatile situation with a caregiver that has just had her patience tested to the max. I can recall a time when I had an aide who was having a bad day. She came in and greeted me without saying anything, and walked right past me as if I was invisible. When this happened, I felt very uncomfortable and wanted to react to how she was treating me in a negative way. However, I felt in my heart that this would not make things better, so I chose to ask her how her day was going, and what was wrong. Much to my surprise, she opened up to me and told me what happened. This made it possible to have trust with each other and to calm things down.

Acting negatively to a negative situation can cause start a cycle of negativity. The cycle must be broken, one of you must take the high road. If it is not going to be the caregiver, it has to be you.

Now lets say you are having a bad day and your caregiver is late to do your cares. I can recall another incident that took place with my caregiver. I was having a bad day and she was late getting to my house to do my cares. My mom had noticed that I was going to take my frustration out on my aide, so she told me to calm down, take a deep breath, and to not be mean to her. I took what she said to heart and put it to the test. Instead of yelling at her and asking why she was late, I said that it was good to see her again. I showed her my gratitude for showing up and by doing this it took a lot of tension out of the visit and we were able to get my cares done on time.

Once again, I will stress that it will not help to get crazy over something that happened in the day that you or she has no control over. You can’t control your aide, and she can’t control you, but you can control yourself by not acting like a victim. By doing that, you will give the caregiver permission to not act like a victim either.

Proper training

You as the patient have to know how to manage your cares. It is important that you learn how to direct them so that you can train your caregiver properly. When you are visited by the nurse from the home health aide agency you will be told that you are in charge of your care. There are two things that will help you to manage your care and train your caregiver properly.

Do not micromanage

While training your caregiver for the first time on how to do your care, it would be best not to micromanage. You must keep the cares consistent and have very few changes. To avoid this, take the time to sit down and write out the cares that are very important that you need your caregiver to do. By doing this, it will prevent confusion. I stress to you, do not foster the attitude that your aide is your slave and that she must do what you tell her. This will only upset the caregiver and cause her to quit. Your aide enjoys coming into your home and knowing that things are consistent. She likes to know what she’s doing everyday and sticking to a schedule; it gives her a sense of accomplishment. It makes her feel that she is getting things done right.

Getting cares done in a timely manner

It is important to your caregiver to get your cares done on time. Caregivers have a lot of visits in the day and are hoping to see their other patients on time. Therefore, it would be wise to follow your care plan and get the things done that are important. That way your caregiver will not be late to his next visit.

Do not add extra little things to the care plan. For example, let’s say your care plan states that you are to be showered, shaved, and dressed but it does not say that you need help brushing your teeth. If that is something you can do on your own without the help of an aide, then do not ask him to help with that.  This will only cause your visit to take longer. Your caregiver has to log the time he arrives at your home and the time that he leaves. His supervisor pays close attention to the time that he is using on each visit. The supervisor’s job is to make sure that all the visits the aide is contracted for are met and the services that were promised are performed in a timely manner.

If your caregiver has all your care done and has time then she will consider helping you with a small task like brushing your teeth. It is not that your aide doesn’t care about your health, it is that he is just as busy as you are and he must stick to a schedule in order to give the cares his other patients need on time.

Appropriate conversation

Open communication establishes a way to form respect and trust between the patient and the caregiver. However, there are some things that you must not discuss with your caregiver. Avoid discussing religion, politics, and sex. These are all very touchy subjects and could cause either to become offended. It could also lead to further action like having services terminated.

Try to avoid cursing or talking about negative things all the time. Avoid talking ill about others or other former home health aides that have offended you. In the world of home health aides, they all know each other and whom they have worked for in the past.

Talk to your home health aide kindly. Showing your gratitude will go a long way and get you the cares that you need done. Your caregiver wants to feel safe and respected. Just remember to treat others how you want to be treated, especially when it comes to your home health aide. She is a key part to your independence and success in life.

Showing gratitude

Showing gratitude will establish a good relationship between you and your caregiver. Your caregiver wants to know that you appreciate him and that you need him. Caregivers like to hear please and thank you and to know that they are appreciated. Your caregiver works really hard to meet your needs and i
t is only be fair for you to express your appreciation for all that he does. By doing this he will keep coming to your home again and again and again. Another way of showing gratitude is by calling up his supervisor and telling her how pleased you are with your caregiver and the company’s services. This will encourage the caregiver to continue to do his very best at his job.

In conclusion, to ensure that your aid will keep coming to your home you should take heed to my words. By following these key elements you can be assured that you will have your home health aide for a long time. By being aware of your body language and your actions, executing proper training by not micromanaging, and getting your cares done in a timely manner you will not offend your caregiver. Being aware of the language you use with your caregiver and showing gratitude will create a trusting and respectful relationship with him. By doing those things your caregiver will want to be your friend and help you with your cares. Remember your aide can be your friend or your enemy, the choice is yours.

Photo “Nurse” copy right to Walt Stoneburner

Ken Christensen
Partner, Founder at Christensen & Hymas
Ken Christensen is the founding partner of Christensen & Hymas. He is an avid cyclist, loves baseball, and enjoys spending time with his family in the outdoors.

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