WHY MANY CARING SENIOR SERVICES FAIL
Patient safety and long-term care within the at-home senior care services sector is one of the most critically important issues of concern to both seniors and their families. With a global rise in high-profile senior care, caregivers, and patient safety failures covered by international news agencies, today’s aging citizens are more informed than ever before in regards to their health care options and associated pros, cons, risks, and benefits.
By and large, seniors are opting to stay at home to experience the aging process within the comforts of surroundings that are simultaneously familiar and nostalgic to them. Rather than moving to one of the many readily available nursing-style homes that populate every corner of the country, seniors today are leaning towards independence augmented with the assistance of in-home care services.
Despite the prevalence of in-home care services specially geared towards seniors and long-term care, it has become common knowledge throughout the senior community that not all care services and respite care are of equal caliber, with some ranging from providing seniors with top-of-the-line, unwaveringly professional care and others providing a bare minimum of care, assistance, and even respect.
If You are in the Market for In-home Care and Wondering Why Many Senior Care Services Fail, Read on Below.
The Top 5 Reasons Many Senior Care Services Fail
Lack of experience, training, credentials, and licensing
Lack of care, empathy, and compassion
Lack of punctuality, chronic absenteeism, calling in sick, texting, calling, using the Internet while on duty
|Reason #4||Cultural issues:
Language barriers, lack of cultural awareness
Inconsistency in quality of care with multiple caregivers along with miscommunication
Reason #1: Experience
In-home senior health care services are depended on to provide high-quality health care and assistance that is patient-centred while also taking into account individual patient preferences and goals and maintaining the utmost respect for their cultural background. However, far too often that is not the case, with inexperienced home care assistants providing care to elderly patients. Many inexperienced home care “professionals” lack the training, licensure, credentials, and overall experience required and needed to adequately meet the needs of their senior patients, much less provide the level of high-caliber care that many seniors demand and expect.
A lack of experience can manifest itself in myriad ways; from slightly annoying to downright dangerous and potentially life-threatening. Whether an inexperienced caregiver does not know how to prepare basic snacks and meals or they are administering incorrect dosages of medications and injections, their overall lack of expertise is not only doing a disservice to the patient but potentially putting their life at risk.
An Inexperienced In-home Senior Care Professional Might:
- Commit errors in administering drugs, including pills, injections, and more
- Dispense care in unnecessary or inappropriate methods and treatment (e.g. pulling up on the arms of a wheelchair-bound senior)
- Not recognize subtle yet critically important changes or fluctuations in a patient’s condition or disease and, as a result, not take necessary action
- Misunderstand or not comprehend medical instructions
- Provide unsafe conditions
- Not comprehend how to assist seniors with trips to the bathroom
Reason #2: Empathy
Often going hand in hand with inexperience comes a lack of empathy exhibited by home health care providers and assistants. When a health care professional lacks the necessary experience to adequately provide care for their patient, it is extremely difficult to at the same time have the proper level of compassion and empathy for that patient.
A lack of empathy can be illustrated in an abundance of ways; from a home health care provider exhibiting impatience, irritability, and annoyance at the patient, thus making the patient feel unimportant, disrespected, and minimized in the process, to conducting care in an inappropriate fashion such as being too rough with the patient during transportation to the bathroom, and speeding through quality time spent with the patient.
Signs of A Lack of Empathy in Senior Home Care can Include the Following:
- Obvious sighing and huffing, indicating discontent and frustration
- Eye rolling
- Short, terse replies
- Speedy, uninvolved quality time with the patient where the caregiver’s mind is obviously on other matters
- Outright disrespect including shouting, yelling, screaming, and name calling
- Hastily “helping” an ailing senior in a markedly half-hearted attempt
Reason #3: Unprofessionalism
The most obvious indicator of a “bad” home health care assistant or provider is their level of exhibited unprofessionalism. Unprofessionalism can be defined in countless ways, from chronic tardiness and absenteeism, to being glued to one’s cell phone and engaging in texting, calling, and using the internet while on the job. Resulting in making seniors feel unimportant, unattended to, and wholly minimized, unprofessionalism is an unattractive element that can poison a patient’s overall care experience and level of happiness.
Signs of an Unprofessional Caregiver can Include the Following:
- Calling in sick repeatedly
- No-show; absenteeism
- Chronic tardiness
- Leaving early
- Spending copious amounts of time on their phone texting, calling, and using the internet
- Inexperienced care
- Unempathetic care
- Lack of training (health training, medicines training, cultural awareness training)
Reason #4: Cultural Sensitivity Issues
Patient-centered care is hugely improved by cultural awareness training. With improved communication, the health care experience becomes enhanced as the patient feels safe, secure, and respected in a caring environment that demonstrates the utmost respect for their culture and background.
The cultural value systems among senior patients can differ depending upon ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, disability, and much more. Providing care for senior citizens requires recognizing cultural differences and being able to parlay that difference into a comprehensive understanding of your patient, thus maximizing their health care experience and overall happiness.
Examples of A Caregiver or Health Care Organization Lacking Cultural Sensitivity, Cultural Competence, and Cultural Awareness Training:
- A home health care professional at a long-term care facility attempts to draw blood from a senior Chinese woman, only to find that the woman balks at the process. Through a lack of cultural competence, the assistant assumes the woman is just being difficult and tries to force the necessary process, thus escalating the level of tension. Little does she know that older Chinese men and women have many spiritual beliefs about the importance of retaining and replenishing blood and the woman is merely worried about becoming even sicker due to blood being taken from her. A culturally sensitive approach would be a gentle explanation of how blood replenishes itself and that the tests are vital for her health and will serve to improve her overall condition.
- An elderly African-American woman is being assisted by a brand new home health care aide who calls the patient by her first name. Feeling disrespected, the patient says little to the aide, and tension ensues. A culturally sensitive approach would have entailed addressing the woman by Mrs. or Ms., as opposed to addressing her on a casual, first-name basis.
Reason #5: Unreliability
Many in-home senior care agencies rotate their home health aides among patients, with many patients having to deal with meeting new aides on a weekly or monthly basis. This is not only frustrating for the patient, as they have to dole out imperative medical information, explain dosing schedules, and provide many minute details that they previously explained, but it’s also an environment that can foster plenty of miscommunication.
Home Health Care Agencies that Rotate Care Professionals Among Their Patients Risk the Following:
- Miscommunication—especially important in terms of medications, dosages, and schedules
- Patient preferences and habits
- Patient cultural sensitivity issues and awareness
- Patient frustration at having to be redundant in explaining the same thing many times over
Many entrepreneurial-minded individuals attempt to enter the booming in-home senior care services market with the aim of making a profit. With many of these newer establishments making up a large population within the in-home care services market, it can be exceedingly difficult to distinguish which business or service will provide you with the top-quality, compassionate, empathetic care that you need in a professional and timely manner.
Over time, many of these newer care businesses will fail. Lacking in expertise, professionalism, passion, and overly empathetic, these companies are missing the essential pillars of what constitutes a successful home health care business. As word of mouth spreads and bad experiences abound, care services with their eyes squarely fixed on profit margins will inevitably fail, while the better, more reputable, and trusted care companies will continue to prevail, distinct from the competition with their unwavering professionalism and passion to provide top-notch services.
Thriving businesses typically have a universal commonality defining their success, and the home health care industry is no different, with passionate and excited owners who are full of drive and ultimately wholeheartedly believe in their cause and purpose to help seniors live happier, healthier, and more fulfilling lives.
As the demand for in-home senior care services continues to skyrocket, resulting in an ultra-competitive market that is full of care services, and various other forms of assistance, it is critically essential that you do your due diligence and ask the questions necessary to determine if the care service you are interested in hiring is the right one for you. Taking care to read our highly informative chart above, ensure that you ask about credentials, licensing, years of care experience, professionalism, cultural awareness, and any of the other unique and highly individual concerns you may have.
Among the major pillars of creating a sustainable healthy life is ensuring that older people have health conditions attended to via high-quality levels of care.