185 Commonwealth Road
(Route 30)
Wayland, MA 01778

508-318-4885 

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Just because an elderly person is known for outrageous accusations and for crying “wolf” doesn’t mean they aren’t going to be accurate some of the time. One of our caregivers spent 10 hours Monday through Friday with a particular client. They each felt they had gotten to know the other’s habits and tendencies to the point that it was almost comical to listen to them each, separately describe an interaction. There was a lot of genuine affection that kept them happy enough to continue working together. But, over a two-week period the client mentioned a concern for the caregiver, wondering about her wanting to leave, suggesting she was having personal problems, and otherwise psychoanalyzing her behavior. Since the client’s natural tendency was to psychoanalyze and she also had a history of (verified) false reports of theft and transgressions at her assisted living facility, the “warnings” about the caregiver were dismissed and the caregiver convincingly insisted she was fine. As it turned out, she was not and suffered burnout and we had to make a change in caregivers. While there was affection there was also condescension and that took its toll. Were the signs there? In hindsight, yes. Was there something we could have done to prevent it? In hindsight, yes. Was the client accurate in her observations about the caregiver? Yes, but they were hidden among so many incorrect observations; the client had cried “wolf” too many times for it to sink in. The lesson: it is important to look into every accusation, complaint, or concern raised by a client. Work with the families to share information so that you can compare reports and learn both sides of a story without directly confronting the elderly client or the employee. Sometimes it means addressing concerns superficially, other times it means changing caregivers for no reason except perception that there is a need for a change. We also learned that things that are going along smoothly one week may not the next, so you have to remain alert for signs of a concern whoever raises the concern.