It is a hard enough decision to make: bringing in a stranger to look after your loved one, because they or you can no longer cope with their needs, but while they still want to be independent and continue to live in their own home. Finding the right carer, with whom your elderly relative has a good rapport can make your task even trickier, especially if your elderly person is a little set in their ways! But with a little planning and forethought, you can soon find the right person – or people – for the job. When looking for a Care Agency in Bournemouth why not follow this simple checklist to narrow down the choices to arrive at the ideal candidate?
Qualifications: your ideal carer will have the right qualifications to care for your loved one, whether with nursing care after surgery or illness, or with basic caring as the declines of age begin to take hold of them. Do bear in mind that as your loved one declines further (as is almost inevitable, in time) you may need to switch carers for a new one with more advanced qualifications.
Temperament: a good carer is even-tempered and sunny, lighting up the room when they come in, and making people feel better simply by their presence. A moody carer who bangs pots and pans around, and brings his or her personal feelings to work will upset their patients, perhaps even making them fearful, just by being bad-tempered.
Reliable: if carers do not arrive on time, elderly people can suffer. All your chosen carers should be dedicated to their job, ensuring that they have cover should they need to skip a call for any reason – and the agency should have fail-safes in place to ensure that no patient is left unattended. It is better for a customer to receive two calls in one time-slot rather than none, and the agency systems will be geared towards that eventuality.
Local: hiring carers who live close to your loved one means that they will arrive on time and in a good mood, ready to devote time and attention to your loved one, rather than fretting over the traffic they have just faced. Of course, it is possible that the carer your relative gets on with best lives a little further away – this should not be a deal breaker, especially if transport links and roads are good.
Patience: dealing with elderly people, especially those who are ill, suffering from dementia or just having a bad day can require a lot of patience and understanding. Shouting at an elderly person, any kind of rough treatment and being rude or disrespectful, even in the face of what might be considered provocation is a no-no. Of course, carers must be safe in their work, but frail and vulnerable people respond much better to kindness and patience than anything else.
Dignity: incontinence, the failure of limbs to support bodies, loss of access to dentures, hearing aids and glasses, can all make an old person feel helpless and vulnerable. A good carer will ensure that these needs are catered for promptly and then re-checked at a suitable interval. Find a carer who can talk with patience and respect to your loved one about getting help with sensitive conditions like incontinence. When interviewing a prospective carer, ask them how they will convince a resistant older adult who regularly experiences urinary leakage to use incontinence protection pads, and observe how they respond to this question. Carers must understand that old people cling to their dignity, even – perhaps even especially – when their bodies are betraying them by failing to work ‘properly’.
Compassion: cleaning up after accidents can be mortifying to the patient – a good carer will be kindly and reassuring, working neatly and discreetly to remove the mess and taking steps to prevent a recurrence. The same applies to assisted baths, grooming and dressing help and many other small acts that can become humiliations if not handled with tact and compassion – such as the best carers have!
Finally, a personality match between the older person and the carer is important. A cheeky old lady given to risqué jokes will do better with a broad-minded laughing carer, while a grouchy former professional (professor, banker or similar) might be happier with a carer who seems to defer to him or her. It does take a little work to match carers and patients, but when it is done right, it is so much better for all concerned in the long run!