Preparing Paid Caregivers
Leaving the care of your loved one in someone else's hands is not easy. But if you hire the right person and familiarize them with your loved one's particular needs, it can be an invaluable help.
It is important for the people or agency you hire to understand Parkinson's, so they can understand and better relate to your loved one. Even seasoned professionals might not know about Parkinson's disease. You can download this PAA template to help you organize and provide instruction to a new hire in your home.
Getting to Know the Person with Parkinson's
Once they know about the disease, paid caregivers need to get to know the person. To provide the best possible care for the person with Parkinson's, it is helpful for home care workers to understand the person's history, personality, and preferences as well as the family situation. Explain or provide a written document with insights on your loved one's childhood, occupation, family stories, favorite hobbies, likes, dislikes, and daily routines. Include information on relatives or friends who are involved in caring for the person with Parkinson's.
Make a Care Plan
With this understanding in place, you, the person with Parkinson's and the home care worker should collaborate to develop a care plan and checklist. It is important to identify and discuss the care and support needs of the person with Parkinson's. These needs, and the steps that will be taken to address them, should be written down in a manner that is easily understood by all who are providing daily care and assistance. This document (referred to as a care plan) can help ensure that all necessary steps are taken to provide the best possible care on an ongoing basis.
Keep in Touch
If you are not living in the home with the care recipient, communication is key to better care. Make sure to check in regularly with the home care workers, particularly as your loved ones' needs change over time. The care plan will need to be updated to reflect the progression of Parkinson's disease, so this is a good time to evaluate the care partner relationship. Voice any concerns about the quality of care being provided. Stay calm and respectful during the conversation, but follow-up to make sure that problems are addressed.
Below are some communication tips that have been provided by the Parkinson's Foundation that assist when communicating to those working in your home and providing care services.
Short sentences: that use everyday vocabulary lead to better understanding
When correcting a worker, focus the discussion on the work: Emphasize the actions and the behavior, not the person or the personality.
Avoid "you" statements and the words "always" and "never": Telling someone "you always" or "you never" is a set-up for an argument.
Provide frequent, meaningful, and specific praise. Include details of what was done and why you appreciated it.
Seek regular feedback from the care worker. Ask how the job is going, what concerns he or she may have, suggestions for improving care and how you can be helpful. Remember to listen to the answers before formulating your response. If you hear something upsetting, ask for time to think about it before responding, but make sure you do respond.
Know the Roles
Paid caregivers are hired to keep the person with Parkinson's safe and look after his or her well-being. Care partner and care recipients might form a bond over time, but it is important that paid caregivers maintain professional boundaries. They should not become involved in familial or financial conversations and decision-making. While your role as a family care partner is emotional and complex, remember that no matter how nice the home care worker is or how much he or she likes you or the person with Parkinson's, it is a job.
Parkinson's Foundation. Page 94. Deciding to hire through an agency or privately. Chapter 5. Getting Outside Help. Caring and Coping. A Care Partner's Guide to Parkinson's Disease. "Booklet."