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After hours with the aides

September 7, 2010
by Kathleen Mears
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Sometimes aides and residents develop a strong friendship or attachment. This may lead to a resident asking an aide to take them out either after their workday or on their days off. Residents and aides may make plans to do things together unaware that there may be a facility policy in place which does not allow it. Facility administration might not want aides taking residents out on their own time. There are liability and safety issues involved.

Aides take care of residents and they also develop some sort of feelings towards them. It is almost impossible for aides not to empathize with the resident's situation, particularly if that resident is young and will need to be in a facility for the rest of their life.

Over time after you move into a nursing facility the community support system usually disappears. Some residents do not have an active family to take them out. Others may not be able to go out on a regular basis.

Some younger residents may just want to have a good time even though they are traumatically brain injured or quadriplegic. Younger residents chat with the younger aides and no doubt wish that they could go to a weekend football game or to a club for a beer.

Younger staff cannot be blamed for wanting to help out either older or younger residents by taking them out for a dinner or just for an afternoon. It is very difficult to remain aloof and unattached to the aides. They take care of us when we are sick and at our worst. Devoted aides listen to us, know when we are having trouble, and many times a lasting friendship can develop from that.

So do you think aides should be able to take residents out on their own time? What are the policies in your facilities?

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Comments

I am a quadriplegic and even though I am not in a facility ... I. very much rely on home health aides for my care and livelihood.

The home health aides that I have are all CNAs and work through a home health agency. Most all home health agencies have a strict policy that goes so far as to say that the home health aides and their patients CANNOT be friends or even get "chummy" while working as a CNA for a patient in their home.

But every single home health aide I have had over many many many years has not been able to NOT fall into that position in some way. Especially ones that have been with me long-term (over 2 or 3 years). We get to talking about absolutely everything and "it just happens." We see each other on almost a daily basis and it is just inevitable.

Some home health agencies will turn a blind eye to it while others are extremely strict about it.

I also have to hire some home health aides privately. In my experience, I have had ones that have taken me out and have become long-term friends while keeping a business attitude toward my care at the same time.

In the 1980s nurses were required to do my care. To this day I am still very good friends with one of those nurses! She has not been my nurse since 1989 but we ended up moving to the same town after 10 years even though it is across the nation! She has always been there for me and has been a great friend.

Having said that, I certainly believe that there should be no problem with aides taking residents to the store, to the movies, or to any number of places. It is called humanity and the more restrictions placed upon people caring for others is not humanity.

Lori

The problem is that socializing with people you care for outside of work creates a dual relationship that can often turn bad. I have seen instances of a resident changing his or her mind about a friendship and then makes an allegation of misappropriation, etc. It is generally one person's word against another's, and how do you prove innocence or guilt? It can ruin a career and cause someone to lose his or her license. It also creates opportunities for people to purposely take advantage of the resident or client. We are required to prevent our residents from being taken advantage of, and can be held responsible for their actions, which is why we have a conflict of interest policy.

I have no problem with being friends once the caregiving relationship is terminated, but until that point, it is just a bad idea.

Kathleen Mears

www.ltlmagazine.com/blog/kathleen-mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...