How many of us find ourselves too busy to really care? I recently helped a client identify a care community for a loved one who experienced a long list of health complications. This was a rather long journey of identifying communities, having assessments completed and receiving declines because the care needed was too significant for available care community staff or there were unexpressed, hidden concerns. .
As one might imagine, after multiple declines, the client became despondent. As a result his interactions and behaviors with potential care staff became impatient and filled with frustration because his desire for care of his loved one appeared to be met by people who were too busy to care, who lacked knowledge or lacked any interest in being helpful.
In caregiving, competing interests represent complications for professional caregivers, family caregivers and care advocates. Communities decline difficult patients or family members they sense to be potentially difficult or excessively time consuming. Family caregivers want the best for their loved ones and lack understanding of minimum standards of care, community rules, regulations or constraints which more than often are not fully explained at a level family caregivers are able to understand. Care staff is often perceived as too busy to care when caring is a main component of their job description.
The goal of care advocates is to advocate for family members and to simplify or ease concerns of professional caregivers who might be hesitant to provide or offer care. It’s sometime a precarious situation because we realize the complexities and support the best interest of the family and the individual in need. We’d rather receive an explanatory and respectful decline rather than have professional caregivers agree to provide care and then fail or disappoint. Yet there are situations where complications exist and we need professional caregivers who agree to go the extra mile for our client with special or unusual care needs
We work in an imperfect healthcare system. As an advocate for families and care recipients, I am at times met by community staff that walks the other way when they see me visiting their communities or who fail to return phone calls because they’re having a busy day and know I will ask questions that may take more time than they have available.
This happened recently when this same client was accepted by a community and then suddenly declined. The admissions person, who I have known for more than a year, told me he didn’t want to take my call because he knew I’d want details and explanations and this would take time he didn’t have on this particular day. I certainly hope that his response to me was not reflective of the way he would respond to a concerned family member as it lacked any semblance of compassion or caring.
If we in the caregiving industry don’t take time to support family caregivers who will? We realize there is a solution for every situation that at times does require investigation, questions, details and explanations from care staff willing to be patient with our inquiries on behalf of clients of The Care Navigator.
Professional caregivers, too busy to care or rushed for time, easily intimidate family caregivers. The reality is that a simple explanation offered by care staff appropriately trained and knowledgeable offers comfort to family caregivers. Based on my personal experience, this type of response occurs on an infrequent basis. More often family caregivers are left feeling frustrated and uncertain.
Are we as leaders in the care industry too busy to train appropriate responses, behaviors and customer service in care staff? The lack of professionalism in the healthcare industry is at times comparable to the level of professionalism of an automobile salesman, pushy telemarketer or a realtor looking to sell a decrepit house to the next willing buyer.
If we seek to be a caring industry we must take the time to develop caring individuals willing to take the time to support families and caregivers and to express caring ourselves. I’m often asked if we, The Care Navigator, are “busy”. My response? We’re never too busy to help another client or family, it’s what we do because we’re not too busy care.