By Jennifer Gibbons, LCSW, Adult & Senior Care Advisor
I recently asked a family caregiver, Carol, if there was something I recommended that really made a difference in the care her mother received. She thought for a moment and then said, “You told me to bring cookies.” Well yes, I did, and apparently it made a world of difference.
Carol’s mother had hip surgery followed by a move from her private home to a long-term care community with 24-hour staff. This quality community was provided as an option through Care.com’s credentialed provider network. Whenever a client is helping a loved one move to a new community or nursing home, I always recommend they bring the staff cookies. This simple act can endear the loved one and family to the staff and sometimes even impact the quality of care they receive.
Carol took my cookie idea and ran with it. Her mom is from England and enjoys tea twice a day. So Carol personalized my suggestion and brought a beautiful tea set and biscuits from England to the staff at the residence. Little did she know that some of the staff members also had roots in England. Others were intrigued and wanted to know more about this particular elder and her history. Soon different staff members were stopping by her room to meet and join her for tea.
The result: mom was no longer a chart at the nursing station. She was now a lovely English woman who enjoyed tea and shared stories from her life. The staff became interested and invested in her personally. And it began with cookies.
When your loved one is entering a new environment for care or has a new caregiver, consider these suggestions to gain extra attention from staff:
- Present your loved one as more than their age and diagnosis. Take the time to share personal or funny stories, passions, and interests about your loved one. Even bring in old pictures and keepsakes.
- Find connections between caregivers and your loved one. Does your caregiver enjoy taking walks, playing an instrument, doting on children? Do they like the same foods or ice cream? Consider how you can foster these shared interests so they become shared experiences.
- Visit as often as possible. Show staff and caregivers that this person is loved, cared for, and valued. If you are caregiving from a distance, consider asking for a regularly-scheduled friendly visitor from your loved one’s church or synagogue. Think about hiring a companion caregiver or geriatric care manager to regularly visit. Online web sites like Lotsahelpinghands.org can help you schedule neighbors and friends for regular visits.
And when in doubt, bring them cookies. Remember, you don’t have to figure this out on your own. Care.com’s Adult & Senior Care Advisors are here to help. Call us at (855) 781-1303 to see how your loved one can best integrate into a new living situation and establish positive relationships with caregivers.