Scenario: Your parent is in the skilled nursing facility and the social worker/case manager is talking to you about sending them home. It is recommended that they not be without personal care assistance/home care. All of a sudden, there are many decisions to make:

• Do you bring your parent to your home?
• Do you care for him/her every day in her own home?
• Do you contact a home care agency or hire a caregiver privately?

No matter what is decided, this is unfamiliar territory that brings to surface many fears and anxiety. Hiring outside help for a parent creates a tremendous storm of emotions.

Normal thought processes include:

• You know that no one can care for your parent the way you do, or at least not with as much love and concern.
• You truly wish you could care for your loved one full-time, you just can’t.
• Your parent is most likely in a vulnerable state.
• They may not have ever needed to have an outsider care for them before. Their anxiety about this can easily increase yours.

You know that at some point, you will have to get back to other aspects of your life, causing a sense of urgency. You will not be able to oversee every detail of care once that care has been entrusted to a caregiver.

Here are a few helpful hints to follow to assure a smooth transition for you and your loved one.

1. Remember that this is a major life transition for both you and your parent. This type of situation can be very stressful and requires strength and clarity.

2. This is causing anxiety for everyone involved because it is a significant departure from the ‘norm’. Give yourself permission to feel the anxiety, fear and guilt. However, don’t allow it to cause you to make sweeping decisions that might eliminate YOUR anxiety, but create more for your loved one.

3. Make a plan of action that takes into account EVERYONE’s needs and expectations. Don’t leave yourself out of the equation. Decide how much care and support you can realistically provide on a consistent basis and use this as a benchmark when hiring outside help. For instance, you could agree to do the grocery shopping once a week, pick up prescriptions, transport to medical appointments, etc.

4. Remember that your presence and involvement is still crucial. Even if the caregiver is Florence Nightingale reincarnated, your loved one still needs YOU. By continuing to offer assistance and support in a predictable way, you will be providing a sense of a familial continuity that cannot be duplicated. Just remember to set your boundaries so that you are not overextending yourself.

5. Have clear expectations outlined when meeting with your caregiver including housework, meal preparation, care needs and preferences, work schedule, personality preferences, etc. This provides a firm foundation on which to start, eliminating guesswork on the part of the caregiver and frustration on the part of the family.

6. Make sure these expectations and needs are clearly defined in a Plan of Care to be followed by the caregiver with an established system of reporting.

8. Let go. Allow your caregiver the freedom to establish a routine and rhythm in the home. Accept that they are not you and will have a different work-style. As long as good care is being provided and she/he is a good personality fit, you are ahead of the game.

When faced with a major life transition, we are forced to adapt. In order to adapt successfully, remember to be honest with all involved (including yourself) about your limitations, anxieties and fears. There is no ‘right’ way to be/feel. By focusing on the best solution for all involved, you will be able to come through for yourself and your parent, laying the groundwork for a smooth and successful transition.

At Constant Companions Home Care we can provide the guidance and expertise needed for a smooth transition to home. Our goal is to provide the best home care experience possible for every client and their family.

Gabriela F. Brown, CSA
CEO & Founder

It is our mission to enrich the lives
of each of our clients by providing
the best in compassionate care,
second only to family.

Author's Bio: 

Gabriela Brown graduated from Mt. Carmel High School in 1987. One of her first jobs out of high school was at Escondido Convalescent Center as a Certified Nursing Assistant. In 1988, she took her place as a freshman at Mary Baldwin College, graduating in 1992. To help pay her way through college, she alternated between waiting tables and caregiving on the weekends. After graduation she took her first professional position as the Community Relations Director at the Home Health Care division of The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas (UTMB) using her public policy skills to educate the university’s doctors on sweeping changes in Medicare benefits for Home Health Care as well as to contribute to the growth of the Home Health Agency. In the end she was responsible for the community relations efforts for UTMB Home Health in 3 separate counties that are all served by UTMB physicians. After UTMB, Gabriela worked as an Account Executive and Business Development Director for a publicly held Medicare-certified home health agency, a Skilled Nursing Facility and later as the Community Relations Coordinator for a public hospital-based home health and hospice in Kirkland, WA. All of this experience set the stage to be recruited back to San Diego as the Business Development Director to grow a fledgling home care (private pay) branch of a large home care company in California. In 2003, Gabriela founded Constant Companions Home Care, a private pay, non-medical home care agency which currently serves both San Diego and S. Riverside Counties. Gabriela’s daily duties cover the spectrum from client Intake and assessment and ongoing case management to caregiver hiring, staffing and supervision. Additionally, she conducts all business development and personnel development activities.