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How much do your carers chat between themselves? - Carers UK Forum

How much do your carers chat between themselves?

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I've been caring for mum at home for about a month. We have 2 agency staff four times a day. More often than not, the staff talk to each other 80% of the time about anything and everything and rarely involve mum in their conversation.

I have complained to the agency management but little has changed. Apparently there needs to be 2 carers per visit to reposition mum in bed or to transfer her from bed to chair.

Just how much do your carers talk between themselves. I would think the staff should focus on mum during their visits and not on the traffic, what they're having for dinner and who else they've visited.

Just how widespread is this? I find it disrespectful to mum and unprofessional.
I agree.

Really, unless the patient has advanced dementia, then of course the focus should be on them, and not each other! And even with advanced dementia, like my MIL, I suspect they are 'well aware' they are being talked over their heads. At the least one should smile, try and make eye contact, and explain what they are doing, and why, and be bright and cheerful, even if the patient looks bewildered and blank.

my MIL is now non-verbal, though communicates with clear wavings of her hand (no!) or taking things (yes!), but I could tell she knew perfectly well that I, the care home nurse and the NHS lady arrived to discuss CHC, were 'talking about her' and she did not like it - she definitely didn't like it. I could tell that by the increasingly cross expression on her face.

So I think we have to assume they 'take in' more than we might think they do.

Careworkers who ignore their patient and talk to each other are as unprofessional as when, from time to time, I'm going through the supermarket check out, being completely ignored while the check out person is talking animatedly to their colleague at the next station or whatever. Not acceptable.

I appreciate it's seldom someone's 'dream job' to be a careworker, and that their work is often tedious and yes, often lonely, if they have 'sole charge', but all the same, I agree with your Rosemary on this.
I definitely see both sides here- yes in a perfect world you are completely right, 100% focus on the person being cared for, eye contact and respect and conversation revolving around them being as inclusive as possibe.
On the flip side of the coin, from personal experience as a carer, carers are human beings. It is an isolating job, many clients incapable of holding or even understanding conversation, especialy the clients who tend to need double up visits. If you are stressed and have been stuck in traffic, and are having a bad day yourself, seeing a friendly colleague can brighten your day. Carers never meet their colleagues anywhere but in their client houses, no time to chat outside and other wise ships that pass in the night.
As an employer I am tempted to hover over people and crack the whip, as a carer I enjoy a chance to have a relaxed visit to a client-hypocritical yes of course- that is the problem being both sides of the fence.
Please. 100% perfect world, etc, etc. If it were a perfect world we would not be on this site! The reason behind 2 carers is to save the carers backs during transfer. One can be 94 and still have one's senses as is the case for my mother. Most of her carers spend most of the visit talking loudly over her head. I do not feel sorry for these lonely, isolated staff, especially when they are employed to do the job they chose to do.
If I wasn't sat on the fence , I would think exactly as you do Rosemary, hopefully I treat my clients with dignity and respect , but hold my hands up to moaning about traffic!
I know what you mean, Rosemary. My brother also made it clear when he didn't like what was being said. He was very sensitive to atmosphere. But he didn't mind at all if the carers were complaining about something or other in their working lives as long as they seemed to involve him as a third member of the conversation. I liked it when they did that. He didn't want to chat with them all the time but he liked coming in with a remark now and then (however bizarre it sometimes was).
Yes. Moaning about traffic is the norm in SE London and only human. I just become annoyed when that takes up most of the visit and they don't include mum.
I do see where you are coming from, and I do agree with you - BUT, I can't really believe that most of the careworkers have 'freely chosen' their job, rather that it's the only one they can get in their own particular circumstnaces etc. Maybe that's a bit negative of me - I'm constantly surprised at the incredible kindness and 'enthusiasm' I encounter amongst the care staff at my MIL's care home, both in the 'older staff' and in the young ones too. They all seem so incredibly cheerful, despite the constant smell of 'wee' (or to be fair 'disinfectant disguised wee') and the desperate plight of nearly all the residents there.

I know I'm probably coming to it from the angle of me being 'terrified' of HAVING to care for someone with dementia, and I'm so grovelingly grateful that ANYONE wants to take on my poor MIL. I would not take it on myself for a million pounds. Not for ten million. I just DREAD the prospect.....

So, I suppose my 'abject gratitude' that there are folk who either do really 'want' to be care-workers for those with dementia, and,/or have little choice but to be (in the westcountry it is usually the only reliable job going very often.....), colours my attitude and makes me far more 'tolerant' (simply because I'm so glad they do it at all!)

It's a sad and difficult situation. (I also think it's a different kettle of fish if the caree does NOT have dementia, simply because of course they are not only far less 'depressing' to look after, but obviously know what is going on.)

I think Greta's point about it's Ok to 'chat between themselves' IF they also include their caree, is very true. It's the total 'blanking' of the person, as if they were just a block of wood, that is offensive and rude. After all, if they were vetinary assistants they'd pay attention to the animal in their charge, and interact with it - so to blank a human being is just not on at all.
There is quite a famous training video- I think it's called If they could only see me now, where a couple of carers do exactly what is being discussed here- talking over someone or about them without including them and this video is used during the selection process taking on student nurses at university. The video shows clips through the ages as the patient goes through different phases of life from chilhood, marriage, motherhood etc The floor is opened up for prospective students to discuss what they have just witnessed and many end up in tears.
I agree with Jenny that many care workers end up in the job through circumstances. I think all the people I work with either care for family at home, have children at school so have to work opposite hours to partner or else they have been former carers themselves and that is where their experience lies.

As food for thought here is a diary of full time care worker

Diary of a full time care worker

Alarm set for 5.00 AM
Get up and grab breakfast ready to leave at 6.30AM
Travel in your own time at your own expense to your first job (and every other job)
Get someone up 7.00-800 and run late by 5 minutes
Rush off to next job worried about being late
Next job 8.30-9.30 and leave on time
Wait in car for 40 minutes because next client is close by and not worth going home
3rd client is only half hour call 10-10.30
Return home for 11.00 and have a cup of coffee
Leave again 11.30 to get to next client by 12.00 and work until 1.00
Travel to next client for 15 minutes and wait in car for 30 minutes
Attend to client 1.45- 2.15.
Your luck is in – next client is round the corner 2.30-3.30
Hang around for another hour or zip into Costa coffee and spent your wages from half an hour this morning on a coffee
Next client 4.30 to 5.30. sit in car and then drive to next client
6.15- 6.45.
Drive to next client 7.30-8.30.
Dinner- who needs dinner?
Drive to next client 9.00-10.00
Return home by 10.30
Unwind, try and fit in some sleep to start again at 5.00 in the morning

Now what are the rewards ?
They have worked from
7.00-8.00 £8.00
8.30-9.30 £6.00
10-10.30 £6.00
12.00-100 £8.00
1.45-2.15 £6.00
2.30-3.30 £8.00
4.30-5.30 £8.00
6.15-6.45 £6.00
7.30-8.30 £8.00
9-10.00 £8.00

Total earning £72.00

Less Tax
Less NI
Less Car Insurance plus car expenses

During this time carer may have dealt with 5 incontinence cases, 2 End Of Life Cases, angry relatives, more demands from the office and long long traffic jams.
If she feels stressed and takes a day off work, no sick pay, no pension
No time off on any bank holidays, working most weekends . Mortgage?- no chance as zero hours contract.
Next weeks work rota arrives – a couple of clients now in hospital so lost half her case load, pay down to £30.00 a day until more clients sign up.
As a previous paid carer and now a carer for my spouse. I never ever spoke about anything that the client or their family raised unless it was a safe caring issue. No general chit chat unless about their day or the weather. All discussions were at the clients and families lead. I would not discuss my day or where I had been before that call or where I was going(including any of my personal information). If I wanted to speak with a another colleague. I would talk to them when off duty unless it's to do with the job in hand. Nurses in hospital don't usually stand around chit chat around patients. So why in a person's home. Carers should see their job as a privilege. A family has opened up their home to strangers in order to receive care. In a lot of cases through no choice.
If the agency took no notice. I would write or contact QCQ and make a compliant about the agency.