Once an applicant is offered the job and accepts, the agreement should be signed before the worker starts. Each party should have a copy of the signed agreement. You should then decide on a start date.
Here are some tips for supervising your newly-hired employee:
1. Make a list of the steps for each task, including preferences for cleaning products and supplies to be used, the locations of these items, and reminders of parts of the task which could be overlooked, for example, “please separate the white wash” or “please sweep under the table.”
2. Avoid following the worker around the home. Instead, ask to be notified after each task is complete. Check off each step that has been finished correctly. Simply remind the worker if any step has been left out.
3. Be sure to acknowledge any extra effort or thoughtfulness, even if what has been done does not fit exactly with your specifications. It is important to focus on the person’s good will rather than small mistakes.
4. Correct major errors by giving information rather than criticism. Unless an error occurs repeatedly, assume the person needs more information about how something should be handled within the home.
Maintaining Open Communication with Your Home Care Provider
Open communication between employer and employee can maintain a positive relationship. People appreciate being told when they are doing a good job. It is also important to tell people about factors that irritate you or unacceptable job performance. Small annoyances can often cause larger problems when not discussed. A good work environment will bring the best performance from an employee and open communication is a necessary component of a good work environment.
- Be sure your expectations are clear:
- Give specific, written directions regarding duties to be performed and when breaks are appropriate.
- Develop a checklist to be completed by yourself and the employee by the end of each shift.
- Demonstrate difficult tasks and have the employee practice for you.
- Review privileges such as eating meals at your home and the use of your telephone.
- Be fair, honest, and kind, and remember to respect your employee’s privacy.
- Praise a job well done. People need to be appreciated. Describe what you like. For example:
- “Thank you for putting non-skid strips in the bath. I feel much safer,” or
- “I really appreciate the extra care you take in cleaning under the furniture (around the sink, etc.). Having a clean home feels wonderful,”
- “Thank you for making the effort to be on time.”
- Get small irritations off your chest before they build up. In the event of irritations or problems, permit ample time to discuss and resolve.
- Give criticism as soon as possible after the problem occurs.
- Keep criticism brief and to the point.
- Mention one incident at a time and make a suggestion for improvement.
- Focus on the situation, issue or behavior, not the person.
- Forgive and forget.
Ethical Considerations and Abuse Prevention
An important ethical consideration facing families and elders and their caregivers is that of gifts. An employee/caregiver should not accept gifts of money or anything else. It violates the professional relationship that should be established between a worker and the employer. This is a difficult concept for many elders to accept. The caregiver/elder relationship is by its nature one that has an imbalance of power. The caregiver is usually more capable, physically and often mentally. To receive gifts other than wages jeopardizes the “balance of power” and drifts into the area of elder abuse or exploitation.
Elder abuse is prevalent in today’s society. Unfortunately, elder abuse is all too common without proper advance planning, accountability and supervision. Abuse can take many forms from accepting gifts to theft of personal items, physical abuse or emotional battering and neglect. If you feel unsafe or uncomfortable with a caregiver, contact a third party such as Adult Protective Services (1-866-221-4909) or Aging & Disability Resources (360-738-2500).
Become knowledgeable about common types of abuse:
- Misuse of time:
- Using up time doing easier tasks first. On your checklist, be sure the harder or more critical tasks are listed first.
- Taking frequent breaks, making phone calls, watching TV.
- TIP: Use supervisory skills and written checklist to maintain a professional relationship.
- Taking advantage of the person:
- Worker wins trust and then takes advantage of sympathy and/or friendship by sharing personal and/or financial problems.
- Persuades employer to sign for hours not worked, allowing late arrival/early leaving, bringing children to work.
- Soliciting “loans.”
Prevent abuse by periodic checkups. Neighbors can also be helpful because of their proximity to the person.