Are you happy with all the caregivers at a facility where a loved one lives?
The job descriptions of caregivers do not say “friend”. So, don’t expect it. Their performance is not evaluated on their friendship. So, don’t expect it. The structures of the homes and the evaluation of performance of managers and administrators do not emphasize friendship. So, don’t expect it. That is unrealistic.
It is more natural for a person to befriend and love another person than it is for them to put on a uniform and go to a job for a shift of 8, 10, 12, 24, or 72 hours to keep records, follow procedures, be mindful of regulations, and tend to whatever pleases their supervisor. It is unrealistic to think that it is more difficult and takes more time to train a person to be loving and compassionate than it takes to train them to bathe, dress, transfer, feed, and assist another person in the use of a toilet. People who are suitable to care for the elderly and frail have experienced friendship, joy, love, and companionship for many more years than any formal training in policies, procedures, and regulations.
Why are people with Alzheimer’s and other conditions of frailty dying of boredom, loneliness, and helplessness in beautiful homes staffed by capable, “well trained”, compassionate people? Because it is UNREALISTIC to expect joy and companionship to flourish where the center of efforts is on business structures and regulations.
Only when the joy, love, and companionship of those being cared for are the measures of effectiveness and success of caregivers, staff, and administrators will the opportunity for joyful living and a comforting completion of life be fully realized. When a caregiver is asked, “What do you do for a living?” they should be able to respond, “I love people.”
How do you do this if you are running a care home? You begin by putting love and concern for the joy of your residents and staff (yes, staff) first. Only joyful staff can cultivate joy for residents. Then put joy and friendship first in the job descriptions. You must expect it and participate in it. Pay the staff well and give them shifts that leaves them energy for their families. Train them to first attend to the joyful experience of those they care for. There are some simple approaches to this in my book, Live It Up! 10 Ways to Share Joy When Your Friend Has Alzheimer’s.
If you want assistance in making joy and friendship central in the lives of residents and staff for a home you manage, then I will help. I am committed to making a joy filled life available to people in all circumstances. I have done it and I know what it takes when Alzheimer’s is present. What are you committed to?
David Lazaroff is author of Live It Up! 10 Ways to Share Joy When Your Friend Has Alzheimer’s. David coaches family and friends of people with Alzheimer’s Disease in creating a fun and joyful life. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
David is the founder of Holistic Community Living, a Colorado nonprofit founded to operate and teach others to operate neighborhood-based assisted living homes where people can complete their lives with those they love.