But managing your friends, family, or loved ones when they act as your paid caregiver can get complicated.
Here are five tips we’ve gathered over the years from some of our current CDPAP participants.
- Communication is Everything
When you have an existing relationship with someone and they become your caregiver, you may have some communication gaps that need to be filled. The sooner you can agree on how you’ll ensure your instructions and needs are clearly being heard, the better. When you hire someone you don’t know, they naturally tend to respond in a subservient way, “yes ma’am” or “no sir” but your niece might just roll her eyes. Establish up front what is acceptable, and what is not, when your caregiver is “on the clock.” It might feel like an uncomfortable conversation, but some honesty up front will prevent a lot of confusion and frustration down the road.
- Prioritize (and then Re-Prioritize If You Need To)
Life happens. When was the last time you got through an entire to-do list? Make sure you’re helping your caregiver to prioritize what’s most important and clearly identifying which tasks can be pushed back or are just “nice to have.” If you have medicines that need to be picked up weekly, that should be a weekly priority, certainly above something like shopping around for a different pair of slippers. You’ll need to be honest with yourself about what really makes a difference and what can be lower on the list. If you find that things aren’t quite working, it’s probably time to re-prioritize or consider restructuring how tasks are managed.
- Watch Out for Burnout
Caregiver burnout is a very real, very challenging phenomenon. The CDPAP program is a big help, in that it reduces the financial burden of being a caretaker, but it doesn’t solve every problem. When your caretaker is burned out, they can’t offer the best care. There’s a reason flight attendants have to tell you that in the event of an emergency you should put your oxygen mask on before assisting others. You don’t have to solve every problem, but if you can give a little tough love to your caretaker and encourage them to take good care of themselves, everyone benefits. They might not be comfortable talking to you about their stress, but there are tons of resources for caretakers to tap into.
- Follow the Rules
Yes, CDPAP allows for more flexible task assignments, hours, and schedules than you’d get with many professional organizations. That doesn’t mean that you should ask more of your caretaker than they can safely (or appropriately) provide. You certainly don’t have to be an expert on every detail of CDPAP, but you should work to understand how the program applies to your particular situation and what kind of care and support are appropriate to expect from your caregiver and stay within those boundaries. You should expect the same respect from your caretaker, and if either of you struggles with boundaries, go back to tip number one: communicate about it!
- Try Really (REALLY) Hard Not to Micromanage Your Caretakers
There are things caretakers must do perfectly and then there are things that perfection may not be required, for instance, your caretaker helps to make the bed and the corners aren’t tucked in the exact style you prefer… you may need to let it go. Is the bed made and presenting no safety risk? Does the caretaker hang clothes a little differently than you do? You may need to let it go. You can let this drive you bonkers, or you can realize that a job well-done doesn’t have to be a job done the exact way you would have done it. You’ll have to figure out for yourself which parts of your care fall into this category, but if you can let go of micromanaging over simple chores both you and your caregiver will benefit so much over the course of your relationship.
At Special Touch Home Care, our 40+ years of experience in professional home care along with our competent, caring, and professional staff allow us to give CDPAP consumers and caregivers the assistance and attention they need. To learn more about how Special Touch can help you find out if you or a loved one is eligible for CDPAP, or for help navigating the application process, fill out the form below.