People who are caring for their loved ones spend a lot of time searching for help.
Recently, in the same boat once again, barely staying afloat, I decided to start looking for an additional sidekick to add to our team. I let everyone I knew personally know that I was looking for help.
In an interaction with someone at Grandma’s church (I mean, why do I keep reaching out to these people?), I let it be known I was recruiting a caregiver.
Our exchange went something like this:
Them: I will keep this in mind as I do hear of people needing work. I’m not aware of anyone with health aide experience at this time, but I will certainly keep my eyes and ears open…and will pray. My email address is…
Me: They don’t have to have experience although it is nice. Neither of my ladies have experience.
One is a mom. The other is my cousin. She worked at Walmart.
They need a kind and patient heart.
And they need to be physically strong, able to lift and push heavy wheelchairs.
I never heard anything back.
The second time around when I followed up on my first request, the same person had basically the same response: I don’t know anyone with that type of experience right now. [Proverbial door slam]
Just what I needed to hear.
I want to save everyone some time on the hunt for people to help care for their loved ones: YOU PROBABLY DON’T NEED A “CAREGIVER.”
We have had quite a few caregivers for my grandma over the years.
Only a couple of them actually had “caregiving” experience. All of the others were just everyday ladies I picked up off the street. (Just kidding, I handpicked all but one of them from my own personal network.)
They have all been exceptional caregivers. They never went to a single CNA course. They were not medication aid level 1 certified. Aside from a few single spinsters like myself, the only qualifying caring experience my Grandma’s sidekicks have had was that of being a mom.
The fact that people think that people who need care need people with professional caregiving experience is problematic in two ways:
- It sets us family caregivers up for failure when we are seeking help. Because we have been convinced we need people with special qualifications, we struggle to successfully find the help we need. We are boxed into searching for bonafide “caregivers.” The bottom line is we are looking for people who are unemployed or underemployed to do (many of the same) the things we do for our loved ones so we can take a break, go to work, etc. People who could use a blessing. We all know plenty of people like that.
- It stifles the creative thinking necessary to help family caregivers look for the help they need. “Oh, Barbara Lynn likes to play piano and sing hymns? A friend of mine used to play for the church. Maybe she could come over and spend a few hours jamming with her.” Now that’s bonafide.
The fact of the matter is people who are “green” and haven’t been programmed to behave a certain way often turn out to be the best “care providers.”
They are not inhibited by the fears and senseless rules that are burned into the brains of people who have been in the care industry for any amount of time. Instead of turning to the medical model to problem solve, they use their left brain and creative brains and common sense to come up with solutions.
Aside from the patience and compassion needed to support another human, the most important thing a caregiver needs is training. The kind of training that teaches them the things that are important to and for our loved ones, how they spend their day, what brings them joy, what sets them off, and any other care techniques you’ve picked up along the way. Surely you did not know everything you needed to know about meeting your loved ones needs right off the bat! Someone had to teach you. That training is training that *we* family caregivers provide.
Home health agencies often fail to provide that training because they have to quickly (and cheaply) train and turn out warm bodies to fill open slots with clients so they offer one-size-fits-all training which typically offers a watered-down chapter on providing person-centered care, if they cover it at all.
The moral of the story is if you’re simply looking for someone to provide companionship and oversight with a side of light cleaning and cooking and personal care, you do not need certified or professional caregivers. I haven’t intentionally hired a single one up to this point, and we’ve done just fine.
I pray you can find the help you need when you open up your mind to all the people and places in your life that can care alongside you 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼