After much planning, research, and discussion, you’ve brought on a companion care service for your elderly loved one — and now, it’s time to get started! Welcoming a new caregiver into a senior’s home is an incredibly important moment, and it’s natural to be both excited and nervous.
Even after weeks of interviewing home care providers and getting to know different long-term care options to find the right fit, it’s easy to feel like there are a lot of unknowns. Fortunately, this first day of care can be a wonderful time to start getting everyone acclimated to the new situation, making sure everyone is on the same page and feeling positive.
These early transitional days can allow you to build the foundation for a smooth professional relationship with the caregiver, while helping your loved one adjust to a new face and start getting to know someone who will soon become a friend and confidant for life.
What can you do to make this process as seamless as possible? Here are five key ways that you can get to know a new caregiver, while making them feel welcome and setting them up for long-term success:
Get the Home Ready to Go
One of the most important things you can do to make a new caregiver feel welcome is to get the senior’s house prepped for their arrival. Before their first day, set up a personal space for the caregiver to hold their belongings and get work done. If the caregiver is providing round-the-clock care, set up their bedroom and make sure their restroom is clean and ready for use.
Before the companion’s first shift, gather essential items and have them ready to go. This could mean making a copy of your senior’s house keys; creating a calendar with appointments and daily activities; cataloging your loved one’s medications; or stocking the fridge and pantry with food and cleaning supplies. Make sure that the house is set up so that the companion can access what they need – including important documents, the phone, cooking equipment, and so on.
On their first day, give the caregiver a tour and walk them through important areas in the home, such as the kitchen and laundry room. If there are tricky appliances or specialized equipment that they’ll need to use, give them a tutorial to help them feel more at ease. You can make communication with a caregiver simpler by setting up a white board with reminders and advice. Don’t be afraid to mark certain rooms as off-limits with a polite note or sign on the door.
Have a Q&A Session
Early on, there are bound to be questions on both sides. The new caregiver is sure to have lots of questions about the senior, the home, and the neighborhood, as well as any special requests or expectations that they’ll want to keep in mind. Meanwhile, you and your elderly loved one may have questions about the companion’s background, preferences, experiences, and first impressions.
These are all important matters, and well worth sorting through! Try to take time to address these early questions and concerns, so that everyone can start to adjust and get on the same page as quickly as possible.
Go Over Rules, Boundaries, and Expectations
Just as you may be nervous about entrusting your loved one’s care to a newcomer, your senior companion may be nervous about walking into a new situation full of unknowns. Making expectations clear upfront can create a more positive and productive environment for everyone.
Early on, be clear and communicative about your expectations. Lay out the senior’s preferences, and don’t be afraid to clarify boundaries, limits, and rules as necessary.
For example, your caregiver may want to know if they should park in a specific place, where they should leave messages for you, or if you prefer them to come in through the front door or back door. You may want to set boundaries about what rooms are off-limits, or let the caregiver know about any conversation topics they should avoid with the senior. Go over the caregiver’s responsibilities together, particularly if there is an expectation of how or when something should be done – for instance, you could walk them through doing a load of laundry the way your loved one likes it. Be respectful, and see if they have any boundaries or points of courtesy that they want to set for themselves — for instance, what they might be called in the household, or if they have a preferred way to be reached outside of work.
Throughout these introductions, try to be friendly and accommodating, and recognize that you’ll both be going through “first day jitters” together.
Find Fun Ways to Connect
Make plenty of time for the senior to get to know their new companion. After all, companion care is about building nourishing and enriching relationships; it’s important that your loved one starts to feel comfortable with their new caregiver, so that they can develop trust, respect, and lasting friendship.
In the first days of senior care, you may want to gently encourage your loved one and the companion to find structured activities that help facilitate conversation, such as playing a game or working on an art project together. They may also start to naturally connect by taking care of household chores, or going for a walk down the block together. Your loved one may also be encouraged to share stories and memories if they join the companion in listening to music, going through old family photo albums, or sharing a meal.
Family members may want to be present to help get these exchanges started — but be careful not to “helicopter” over the proceedings! Give the senior space to get to know the caregiver on their own terms, and in their own way.
Keep Lines of Communication Open
Communication is one of the keys to making the caregiving process easier for everyone involved. Set up a calendar or planner together, so everyone is on the same page. Make sure to exchange contact information with one another — cell number, email address, etc. Determine each other’s preferred communication method and style for routine contact and emergencies. For instance, you may prefer texting over calling, or reaching out by phone more than email.
In addition to your contact information, make sure that the caregiver has other essential names and numbers, including the information for other local family members, healthcare providers, the senior’s favorite delivery restaurants, and so on.
Finally, be sure to regularly find times to check in with all parties. Make sure that the senior is comfortable, and consult with the caregiver to see if they’ve noticed any changes or developments in your loved one’s health or habits.
Companions for Seniors Makes Starting With Home Care Easier
At Companions for Seniors, our mission is to help seniors maintain a higher quality of life by empowering them to lead an active and enriched lifestyle in the comfort and safety of home. Our aim is to help seniors live independently, connect them with their community, and nurture meaningful relationships.
Providing exceptional care for the elderly is our passion. If you have any questions or want to talk about what it might take to start introducing home care into your senior’s loved one’s daily routine, don’t hesitate to get in touch! We’re always here and happy to help guide you in the right direction.
Locally owned and operated in Chicago, Illinois, we offer a wide variety of full- and part-time services designed to make life more convenient for your senior loved ones, and for you. We can provide transportation services, assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), meal prep, and housekeeping assistance, all on a flexible schedule that accommodates your family’s needs.
Getting started, we can provide a free in-home assessment for your loved one, and help develop a unique and personalized care plan tailored to the senior’s wants and needs. As these change with time, so will our plan of care. In most cases we can be up and running in just a few days, sparing you from the laborious application process, hidden fees, and extensive paperwork attached to many assisted living facilities.
Curious about what sets Companions for Seniors apart? Want to talk over any aspect of home care in Chicago? We’d love to keep the conversation going! Get in touch online using our handy contact form, or give us a call at 866-910-9020 today.