Having private duty nursing at home is often times a large expense for clients and families! It is sometimes a necesssary expense from a safety standpoint however. I frequently hear frustration expressed over the limited amount of services provided by night shift caregivers. Family members sometimes complain that they just sit on their phone all night, watch TV or even doze off from time to time. Night shift care should be no different from day shift care! Unless you are paying for a live in caregiver the staff should be awake, alert and engaged no matter what time of the day it is! You are paying for care and services by the hour, each hour should count and matter...
Here are some tips for getting the most out of night time caregivers:
1. At the time of hire express what the expectations are for night shift. Again, night time should be no different than daytime in terms of the caregiver working; they are at work and should be working. This can be expressed in a positive yet concrete way. Set the expectations early to ensure that there is absolutely no confusion over their role. Once an ineffective pattern is set, it is difficult to change it without often times conflict and frustration. Set the expectations from the get go to avoid confusion and difficulties!
2. Have a list of items to be done at night. Laundry, ironing, cooking, housework, can all be done at night. Set exact goals and directions for each shift. Have a printed list of duties posted in the home for caregiver reference.
Verbally review this list to again avoid confusion over duties!
3. Maintaining safety is key at night! For added safety I had a monitor and camera in my home. A simple baby monitor with audio or with audio and video can be used so that your caregiver can still be monitoring your loved one while doing tasks. Often times your caregiver can download an app so that they can monitor your loved one using their smart phone while doing other things. You want to of course maximize your caregivers, but always ensure that this is done in a safe way!
4. Here are some meal prep ideas that can be tried during night shift:
Have caregivers bake muffins from a box mix. Sometimes half of these can be put in the freezer for later. Have them begin or prepare simple meals or side dishes that can be stored in the refrigerator for the following day. You can even have them prepare oatmeal overnight for breakfast or set the table if that's a need. Have them start preparing chicken salad, egg salad, tuna salad, or fruit salad to put in the fridge for the next day. This will also make is easier on your day shift caregivers!
5. Activities can be set up for the next day. If your loved one likes crafts, painting, drawing, puzzles, knitting, quilting, etc. The night shift caregiver can gather materials for the next day or set up activity boxes / stations to have on hand.
6. Finally, agency caregivers should again never, ever be sleeping while on duty. If an agency tells you that caregivers sometimes dose off or sleep a little at night they are taking your money. You are only paying for Night shift caregivers to sleep if they are on a live-in status and this has been prearranged. Hourly employees are never permitted to sleep while on duty.
7. Communicate! Most home care nursing agencies want to provide you with exceptional care; let them know if there are issues regarding your caregiver.
Give the agency and caregiver a chance to correct things for you! Again be upfront with expectations from the beginning to prevent issues from occurring if possible.
Maximize the time as you're paying for it!!! And remember most of all, if you allow dysfunctional patterns to start it will be very difficult to change them... especially in a positive way!