Maureen hired in home healthcare for her father with Parkinson's disease, and went through difficult experiences with several aides before finding the right one.
What I Learned From Hiring Home Healthcare
people found Maureen's experience helpful.
My dad was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease ten years ago. Over time, he slowed down and needed assistance to get around. Eventually, I became concerned that my mom might fall trying to take care of him. I tried to coax her into letting someone into the home to help, but she would not listen. Eventually, my father became even more ill, and he was taken to the hospital. He wound up in a nursing home where his condition declined further. Finally, my mother had enough and took him home, so he could receive his pills on time and exercise regularly. When I brought up the issue of a home health care aide this time, she conceded.
While my mom and dad did not have life insurance, they had the good sense to invest in insurance for assistance if either one of them became debilitated. Although the policy didn't allow for the best in the business, it still offered the opportunity to have someone there from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on a daily basis. It was peace of mind for us all, knowing that someone could be there to help. The first of the aides was a strong man who was well able to move my dad from chair to chair, help wash up, and take him for almost-daily walks, but he was not very considerate or helpful in other ways to my mother. Apparently, he didn't want to raise my mother's expectations in what he would do around the home. While the brochure advised that an aide's main duties included cooking, exercising, transporting, and light cleaning, he fought against almost every task. It was obvious that he felt my mom's requests were beneath him. It didn't work out.
We went through six health care aides in as many weeks. Some lasted a few days; others lasted a week or so. Some were able to take care of the duties, but didn't want to do the job. Others were incapable of doing the job due to a lack of physical strength and size. More than a few times, my parents and the health care aide were stuck inside for days because the aide couldn't help my father down the stairs. Still others thought nothing of fighting with my mother who had enough stress trying to take care of her husband, the home, and the constant calls for medical or billing reasons. One healthcare aide refused to listen to my mom about my dad's needs. She felt she knew better because of her years of experience, which was very off-putting since my mom knew more about my dad than that woman's experience could ever have told her. Another aide accepted a position just so he could leverage a raise with his former patient. It was an extremely frustrating experience.
My mom felt like she lived in a fishbowl. It was good to have dad home and medical staff visit, but she no longer had any privacy. She was on call all the time. It didn't matter if she was on the phone with a doctor or wrangling with an insurance company, an aide would interrupt whatever she was doing. Furthermore, if she stepped out of the house, aides would sometimes take advantage. Aides would ignore my dad's television preferences or just ignore him completely, while chatting away on the phone. Some aides would take lengthy lunch breaks, only to return with food and eat it while my dad sat waiting to be fed. It didn't seem like my folks would ever get a break. Then again, if they didn't have an aide, he'd have to go into a nursing home; and after a prior nursing home experience that nearly killed him, a home healthcare aide was the way to go.
Thankfully, we finally found someone who was kind, knowledgeable, and caring. He was with his last patient for seven years. He stayed with my mom and dad until my dad's passing, and we will forever be grateful to him for his care and understanding.
If I could do things differently, I would start the search for an aide much earlier to avoid having to use someone who is not compatible. Being proactive is your best bet. I would have an ongoing search for healthcare aides. I would collect names and references from friends, family, and acquaintances and keep a contact book, including the good and the bad.
In addition, I would start checking out various companies as well as aides not affiliated with a service. Lastly, I would pay into an insurance plan that would provide additional funds for healthcare aides, since the payout for services was so low. Despite the difficulties encountered trying to find the right healthcare aide, I would still prefer an aide at home to a nursing home.