“So what do you think, Alice?”
That was my reaction the first time the family for whom I work asked me my opinion. Having worked in a facility for so long, I’d honestly forgotten what it was like for someone to value what I think about a situation.
Every move this family has made has been done out of love and concern for their family member. Their only agenda is to see that my client is well cared for. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, in home nursing, speech therapy and even a physical trainer are all a part of her weekly routine. Being that I am private care, I accompany her to her appointments and have witnessed first-hand the difference in the quality of care when a loved one is in the office advocating for a patient vs a resident in a facility to whom no one is accountable. The contrast is astounding.
Working privately for a family has been much more of a collaboration than I expected. This is new for everyone involved and we are all learning together. My client has been doing remarkably well considering all of the change in a relatively short amount of time. I attribute that to the love and consistency that this family has shown her. They are INVOLVED and that makes all the difference. They take her to church and shopping. They have learned how to transfer her safely. I’ve shared some tips on redirecting and calming her when she occasionally becomes agitated rather than over relying on PRN meds. I’ve stressed the importance of self-care and explained that dementia is a family disease that inevitably affects the family unit as a whole. In turn, they have been open about her story and life experiences, their family dynamic, their hopes and concerns. It’s a much more intimate and open relationship than I experienced in the facility and it’s based on solid communication and mutual trust.
The hours are long, sometimes thirteen hour shifts, but I’m finding that to be useful; almost a crash course in getting to know one another. Often, we all eat together as we share the details of the day. They have made me feel both valued and welcome. All of this adds to a solid, warm and collaborative relationship that is mutually beneficial for everyone involved.