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Agency carers - are they watching you? - Carers UK Forum

Agency carers - are they watching you?

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Hello everyone,
Carers - are they watching you?

My sister aged 92 lives alone and has some short term memory problems. I live with my husband about ten minutes drive away. I visit every day, do shopping; help her sort paperwork; wash bed sheets; change the bed; do some housework; wash her hair; see that she changes her clothes and generally look after her wellbeing. In order that she takes her medication, a carer goes in from a agency for fifteen minutes every morning. (I cannot be there until later in the day)
For my peace of mind, she also has a carer from the same agency to go in early evening for fifteen minutes. This is a kind of safeguard in case I am ill.

However, I always get the feeling that the carers are watching me and noting what I do, or don't do. I often take a cooked meal for my sister to heat in the oven. Does the carer note what I have taken and have a good 'nose' at what meal I have cooked. Do they notice when I have changed the bed sheets for example? I try to do this regularly but do they notice if I am late by a few days. Recently, a note was left for me from the carer saying that she had had to throw away some yoghurt and some cream cheese from the 'frig' as it was out of date. I felt awful, as I try to keep an eye on everything like that but had obviously overlooked those things. Do they notice if I haven't dusted properly?

I don't consider myself a 'carer' but just a caring sister. My husband and I are both in our eighties so he needs some looking after too.

The carers that go to my sister make me feel as though we have lost our family privacy. After all they are strangers. My sister has adapted to them very well but I as a family member and close relative find it difficult to adapt to what is really an intrusion. I know it is best for my sister but I feel under pressure to keep everything up to scratch because my sisters carers are watching.

Maybe somebody, somewhere feels the same.
Hi Greta
First of all, of course you are a Carer. I'm a caring daughter, but I'm also most definitely a Carer. The visitors from the agency are care workers.
Secondly relax. Think of it another way. Maybe the care worker noticed the out of date items and thought it would be best to dispose of them in case your sister ate them and suffered a poorly tummy. She was therefore saving you the problem of your sister being unwell. She then courteously let you know what she had done.
In the short time the care workers are in your sister's house I very much doubt whether they have the time or inclination to check up on you. It's their duty to look out for hazards and take note of any changes in your sister that they think may be a developing problem, but I'm sure they visit homes which are nowhere near as clean and tidy as your sister's.
However, you have reminded me. I'd better check Mum's fridge because there's bound to be something out of date in it. Mine too.
My Mum has about 20 different care workers from 2 agencies who pop in and out or stay to sit and chat to her.
Not all 20 every day of course but she could see half of them in one day. I'm very pleased if any of them point out something I've overlooked. I can't keep my mind on everything all the time.
Do both your sister and your husband get attendance allowance? If not, it might be something to consider claiming.
All the best
Hi Elaine,

Thank you. As you rightly say, the care worker was actually being efficient and looking after my sister's wellbeing. It didn't stop me feeling guilty though. I should have been grateful. Yes, my sister has just been awarded Assistance Allowance.
Thank you for your reply.
Hallo from another Greta,

I understand how you feel. I am 69 and live with my brother, and we have two careworkers four times a day. It is an intrusion, there's no way around it. However, I couldn't do without them and I get on well with most of them.

About throwing food away: it is one of the items on my careworkers' schedule that they may not give food that is past its sell-by date. I have had problems with this, but in fact I prefer them to tell me. We have masses of Greek yogurt and sometimes it is a day past due date because I have to keep so much in advance. If the worst comes to the worst, I will continue to give it for a day or two myself provided it seems OK. Some careworkers would give it too. But just before Christmas I gather one tub was over a week past its date, my fault of course, but probably it was the shop's mistake too, and I gather that a careworker threw about four tubs away although only one was clearly unsafe. What's more, she told the other careworker that some cake in our cake tin, which was a German Stollen, was bad - it was not, it was new and just looked odd to them as they thought the icing sugar on the outside was mould. So one threw away the whole contents - this cake, a mince pie and another perfectly good small cake. In my opinion the cake tin was none of their business. I actually had to buy another Stollen because my brother was looking forward to it. I was livid!

Another problem with careworkers is that they aren't allowed to give food that I have cooked myself and frozen. Not a problem for me, but a friend left a lot of nice frozen meals for her 90-year-old mother when she went away and was upset that her mother had not been given them. But it's just health and safety regulations - the careworkers would be liable if they gave food that had gone bad.

So I have got used to this after over two years' experience. I am very careful to leave the use-by and sell-by dates on food in the fridge and the regular careworkers do trust me not to keep out-of-date food.

I know what you feel about being guilty because I hate housework and I actually live here. Careworkers are bound to notice things - I certainly would - but if they're professional it should not be a problem. On the other hand, the careworkers sometimes use the toilet in our wet-room and they say they prefer to use ours to those of some other people!
I just wanted to put your mind at rest, as a carer for Dad plus doing some paid care work for others and paying carers to look after Dad I can assure you from every angle they don't have enough time to be watching or worrying about what you do or don't do!
As paid carers , you attend food hygeine courses and are instructed to make sure no food goes past the sell by date in the fridge. If relatives (you) are involved in the care then you can't just chuck stuff out without justifying it as the relatives (you) might moan at the agency they had been wasting/stealing food that was bought in hence the note left to "cover themselves"
As for the the dusting , I am sure they are used to seeing all types of houses and clients who all have different standards. They are not there to judge lifestyle or ability to hoover or turn around the washing at regular intervals, but to support their client in remaining at home and doing duties outlined in the care plan agreed with relatives in advance. If you want them to change the bedclothes on a weekly basis - put it in the care plan, or if you want the bed made on a daily basis put it int he care plan. I can assure you they will be running around like headless chickens worrying about completing their own essential tasks and "covering themselves" in their journal entries and flying off to the next visit to worry about how much help you have been providing.
A cautionary word though, if you start doing things that are their responsibility in the care plan, they will probably take your contribution for granted and skip that bit to cut corners.
Thank you Greta and Henrietta for your comments. I think you both understand what I am getting at. I am not criticising the care worker for throwing away out of date food. The fact that I had not kept up standards myself had made me feel guilty. I usually print the 'use by date' in large letters on most food items in the frig,
I am new to this site but I am learning a lot already. Thank you both for taking time to reply.
There is a big difference between 'best by' and 'use by' dates, but they are often hard to find and in very small print. I bet every home in Britain has a few examples of both labels in the dark recesses of their larder or fridge, I know I have, and most of the time they can be happily ignored. However, I have recently purchased a breadmaking machine, and do not recommend using out of date yeast (or ready mix) - you end up with very flat loaves!