If you noticed a dip in your loved one’s personal hygiene or self-care rituals, turning to a full-time caregiver likely felt like the natural next step. Whether you were attracted to the unparalleled independence or the higher quality of life associated with in-home care, these around-the-clock services may have reassured you that your loved one with disabilities was in good hands.
Unfortunately, a handful of caregivers on the in-home care market have a spotty record at best or a near-criminal history of neglect at worst.
With this unfortunate reality in mind, you’ll need to locate the best caregivers in your area who can provide essential, full-time caregiving services. But where should you turn? Some family members opt for a private caregiver, while others entrust the services of caregiving agencies. Unlike private caregivers, caregiving agencies, such as 24 Hour Home Care, guarantee thorough background screenings and handle all worker’s compensation and tax-related matters, so you don’t have to. Additionally, caregiving agencies such as these ensure 24/7 care in the case of an unexpected absence or caretaking gap.
If you opted to a hire a private caregiver, despite the undeniable perks of caregiving agencies, even the most carefully vetted nurses and therapists can slip under your screening radar. So, how can you tell if the caregiver you hire to assist your elderly or disabled loved one is reliable?
Top signs you’ve hired the wrong caregiver
You just hired a caregiver with impeccable references, but you still want to be sure you made the right choice. How can you investigate the issue without alerting the caregiver about your concerns and setting off alarm bells?
First, you must carefully observe their caregivers’ interaction with your family member and look for warning signs that they may not be trustworthy.
Your loved one has significant mood changes
Many debilitating diseases can alter an individual’s behavior. However, if personality shifts are abrupt or too far out of character, take note. These out-of-the-blue mood shifts could be a significant sign that you have hired the wrong caregiver, possibly guilty of abuse or neglect.
Be especially mindful if your family member appears increasingly agitated or fearful, especially if they cannot speak or have lost the capacity to communicate effectively. Remember, subtle non-verbal cues can fly under your radar if you aren’t looking for them.
Unexplained bruises, wounds, or falls
When considering physical signs of harm, take into account that people with physical disabilities often hurt or bruise themselves accidentally. You’d hate to accuse an innocent nurse or therapist of wrongdoing in a situation where a commonplace mishap incurred minor injury.
Still, it pays to be hypervigilant in this regard, especially if your loved one is covered in bruises, cuts, or scrapes frequently, which can be a sign of neglect or actual hands-on abuse.
Malnourishment and the refusal to eat or drink
Sick or disabled people often act out when they are being threatened or abused. Refusing to eat or drink is just one form of self-harm that manifests in the face of internal conflict. Depriving oneself of essential nutrients could, in turn, evolve into a situation where the patient becomes dehydrated or under-nourished.
If your relative refuses to eat or drink, investigate the matter to see if there is something wrong. By taking a vested interest in their dietary habits, you can potentially protect them from harm.
Important tasks or chores not getting done
Physical rehab may involve your loved one moving around, exercising regularly, or taking occasional walks. Physician instructions may dictate keeping walk areas obstruction-free and clean to avoid injury. If these aspects are consistently overlooked, you may have hired the wrong caregiver to do the job.
In situations where the caregiver has light chores, like doing laundry or cleaning the dishes, you may wish to pop in to see if these daily to-dos are being taken care of.
Wrong medicinal dosage – too little or too much
Hiring the wrong caregiver may lead to administering the incorrect doses of medicine to an unsuspecting patient or client, which can often result in the treatment being rendered ineffective, or in some worst scenario cases, causing physical injury and death.
Ensure the nurse or therapist is well aware of the dosage the patient should receive and check-in from time to time to ensure they are carefully following the physician’s orders.
Loved one is hiding or being hidden
How long has it been since you physically laid eyes on your loved one? Does it feel as if the caregiver is hiding them from family members? When you are in the presence of your relative, do they shrink away or wander off as if ashamed?
These shifts in behavior are the types of red flags that signify you have hired the wrong caregiver. Make a concerted effort to investigate off-putting secrecy to ensure your disabled, elderly, or sick loved one is not in harm’s way.
The caregiver is taking too many liberties
A caregiver can be a part of the household for so long that they become a beloved family member. While this unbreakable bond should be treasured, setting firm boundaries regarding the caregiver’s role is essential in maintaining optimum professionalism.
While it is good for the caregiver to bond with your loved one, the essential worker shouldn’t venture too far outside their job responsibilities. For example, taking a family car for nonessential drives or removing the patient from home should warrant disciplinary action, as these can be forms of exploitation.
If this occurs with some frequency, be sure to have a conversation with the caregiver about the issue. If need be, replace them with someone who grasps the fine lines between providing adequate care and overstepping the perimeters of a client/patient relationship.
Listen to your Loved One
At the beginning of the caregiver relationship, it may be tempting to dismiss your loved one’s complaints. Whatever you do, don’t shrug off expressions of bodily pain, discomfort, or symptoms out of the ordinary.
Of course, there may be initial miscommunications or stubborn refusal to do what is needed. Still, overall, individuals want to ensure their own health and safety. These protective measures may come in the form of vocalizing health-related concerns or alerting you of problematic behavior.
When in doubt, trust your gut. As the old saying goes, be sure to trust but verify. It never hurts to check in every once in a while to make sure your caregiver is doing all they can to provide a healthy environment for your elderly or infirm family member.