Family caregivers are usually well aware of why they are the preferred providers of their senior loved ones’ long-term care. They are trusted, familiar and in the best cases, proven to have the genuine love and concern caregiving requires. Because of the nature of these relationships, it can be hard for seniors and families to open this close circle of trust to additional help. But when caregiver burnout or financial constraints limit the amount of long-term care a family can provide, sometimes the only option left is to trust someone else with the task.
Good senior care requires a patient-centered approach. Via the many human connections surrounding a patient, trust ties their entire support network together. From seniors to family, doctors, caregivers, facilities and agencies that are involved in long-term care, all participating parties depend on each other in some way. This dependence is only functional and healthy when trust is securely in place.
There are three types of relationships in senior care where trust serves this purpose. When it is achieved, trust works between people to build a supporting bond that you or your elderly loved ones can lean on. When these relationships work harmoniously to benefit a senior, you know that trust has been established in the right places. Along with these examples of trust’s important role in senior care, here are ways for you to build it.
1. Trust between senior and caregiver
The strongest indicator of a trustworthy caregiver is the quality of their care. Can you or your elderly loved one depend on a caregiver to be punctual, reliable and easy to communicate with? Is the caregiver responsible? And does the state of the senior’s health, hygiene, mood and home reflect this? If questions like these can be answered with a confident “yes”, your caregiver is has earned your trust.
Caregivers can practice good habits that will earn trust from the seniors they take care of and the families who supervise them. Families can also take steps to build their trust in new caregivers. Both parties must actively build trust in this relationship.
Caregivers must provide services that meet all expectations set by the senior’s needs, by the family or by the agency that employs them. They must also value the very close proximity they have to a senior as a precious, sensitive position meant only to help the senior. They should show attentive interest in the senior from the very start. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, a person with dementia can actually sense a caregiver’s lack of interest or impatience. Seniors take cues like this to determine the trustworthiness of their caregivers. But seniors and families who see good habits and a positive, genuine mindset in a caregiver will feel reassured in depending on them to supervise their elderly loved one.
Families should take a slow approach towards integrating caregivers into a senior’s daily life and towards building trust in them. Take an appropriate amount of time to interview the right agency and the right caregivers. Once hired, incrementally escalate a caregiver’s amount of responsibilities and the level of intimacy that comes with them. For example, let the caregiver focus on companionship and housekeeping before monitoring hygiene and dressing. With time, patience and supervision, you will soon see whether you can trust a caregiver.
2. Trust between caregiver and supervisor
The relationship between a caregiver and their supervisor is a working dynamic that seniors and their families may not always see. Behind the curtain of senior care are skilled professionals dedicated to providing the best quality of service for senior loved ones. One of these professionals, the caregiver’s supervisor, is just as concerned about the quality of care as a senior or their family may be. In fact, their livelihood depends on it.
A good supervisor makes sure that caregivers they hire are qualified with the right background, training and certification. This may include facilitating background checks, reference checks, phone and in-person interviews and required orientation. Before a caregiver ever sees the senior they’ll care for, they are vetted or screened to be a good worker and a representative of their agency. Agencies like Amada Senior Care fall back on this process to find caregivers that can reflect the integrity of their supervisors as well as their entire organization.
“Our caregivers make us who we are. Without the commitment, dedication and love they show our clients, Amada could never have become what it is today.” – Chad Fotheringham, President of Amada Senior Care Franchise
Trust in the relationship between a caregiver and their supervisor should be mutual. A caregiver with a good supervisor will work with commitment and high quality. Recently, an LA home healthcare company was accused of stealing worker’s wages – an unfortunate example of how an untrustworthy caregiver-supervisor relationship can hurt many people. Caregivers mistreated by supervisors or clients are given less motivation to do their job well or to care much about it. When a good supervisor provides the guidance, respect and compensation caregivers deserve, they are trusted in return. All of this leads to better care for the seniors who trust them.
3. Trust between families and service providers
Just because a service provider, like a living facility or caregiver agency, advertises their business as the right fit for you, you are the one who will ultimately confirm this. When your selection of a service provider affects everything around the senior receiving care, your trust must be earned at its highest value price. Where do you start?
There is no amount of money that can buy your trust. But seeing as you will be paying service providers for long-term care, they are expected to deliver trustworthy service that meets the bill. You may feel open to trusting a service provider with the long-term care of you or your senior loved one, given that you pay them to do their job. You may also feel like letting go of this responsibility exposes you or your loved one to unknown dangers that you can’t control.
Elder abuse is a real problem in today’s senior care industry. Its risk factors include senior isolation, declining physical and mental health, the level of dependence and caregiver stress. You want a service provider that protects seniors against these risk factors to prevent elder abuse from happening. You can find such a provider by ensuring that trust, as depicted in the above examples, is strongly founded in their organization, operations and personnel.
Ask as many questions as you can when shopping for a service provider. Trust your intuition if it tells you something’s wrong. Speak to long-term care advisors about your options, then make your decisions after enough research. Monitor care even after you’ve decided on a provider. Take assertive action should you ever need to find another one.
While you are tasked with the final say on a service provider’s trustworthiness, the provider’s job is to perform and operate for the purpose of earning your trust every step of the way. When trust is earned in this relationship, everybody wins.
“TRUST: Its Important Role in Senior Care,” by Michelle Mendoza, Amada Blog contributor.