Searching for a Caregiver - Again

April 13, 2010

We are searching for a caregiver, a new DSP. The last one we hired, just eight months ago, has had to leave due to some medical issues. So, now we are looking to fill this second-shift position once again. The last time it took two and a half months to find someone. There is much talk these days about unemployment and how so many people are searching in vain for work. We have a Home Goods store opening nearby and over 200 people showed up to apply for positions. So, I placed an ad for a caregiver in the local paper and prepared for the onslaught of applicants for the job we had to offer. Ten calls. We’ve had ten calls. Seven of which could be summed up by the question of one of them, “Ya mean ahd haf ta hep her ta the latrine?”

I scheduled three interviews, two never showed for their appointments. ....This is only going to get worse. In the next few years the number of people needing care is going to exceed the number of people available to give care – “available” - not willing, just available. Meaning, they are of an age to be physically able to provide the care.

I am all too slowly coming to the realization that self-direction is only a temporary solution to a permanent problem. Through self-direction, funding is available to help individuals and their families utilize the resources present in their own communities to meet their needs. Maybe it’s easier, more successful, more “doable” when an individual requires a lesser degree of care. I don’t know. For those individuals with significant needs, appropriate, quality care will be increasingly difficult to find and to finance. The infrastructure to support self-direction for these individuals does not exist, and I know of no plans to develop it. Self-direction is great in theory, but will not succeed in the community and atmosphere in which we currently live. Are individuals and families in other areas finding more success? I don’t know. Will it mean we will have to leave the community where we have lived for over forty years in order to assure that Lauren is cared for? I don’t know.

I’ve approached our personal foray into self direction with enthusiasm and hope. Three years into this, I have given all the energy and optimism that I can muster to trying to build a self-directed life for Lauren. One, that it is very evident, will fall apart without my vigilant and never-ending fruitless toil. When it is time to fill a vacant caregiver’s position it should not take months. People will come and go in Lauren’s life. And, someday so will I. Right now I am the mortar holding together the brick walls enclosing Lauren in safety and happiness. Too much mortar and not enough brick make for very weak walls. It is evident that they are starting to crumble already.

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