Is It Really That Hard To Be Honest?

What's Your WheelchairWhen I run a help wanted classified ad for personal care aides, we usually get quite a large response… Somewhere in the neighborhood of two hundred phone calls. With that many individuals responding and me only needing to hire a few, you would think I’d have my pick of the litter, right?  Wrong.

Many times not one single applicant is appropriate for the job. You wouldn’t let these people on your property to water your lawn, let alone help you in your home  as a home health aide. I have better odds when I go to Vegas.

I’ve had other people manage my classified advertisement responses for me.  Perhaps I was doing something wrong.  I’ve been hiring people for twenty years. Maybe I sounded burnt out and unenthusiastic during the phone screening and interview process. But everyone else who tries for me has the same experience.

People make interview appointments and pull no-calls, no-shows.  They lie on their resumes.  They lie about their related work experience.  They make up references. They say they have clean backgrounds when they don’t.

Case and point. I interviewed a girl named Mary* a few weeks ago from my latest classified ad.  She was twenty years old and very enthusiastic. During the interview, I explained in detail what the position entailed.  I also said we do a DMV (department of motor vehicle) and criminal background check.  I make it a point to tell each interviewee, even if you committed a crime as a minor that is “sealed,” I will be made aware of it.

In the DMV check, if someone has a DWI or their license revoked in the last ten years, I cannot hire them. I also explained the details of the criminal background check we would do on her.  I said what I always say in interviews… If there is something in your background, you should tell me now and save us both a lot of time because in the end, I will find out.

Mary triple reassured me her background and license were perfectly clean.  I gave her the necessary paperwork needed to get a physical and vaccinations required for the position. She asked me if once she had her physical requirements completed, was the job hers?

I told Mary becoming a permanent employee in my home was a process. First, a phone screening, then a face to face interview. If the interview goes well, the next step is getting your physical requirements completed. I explained the physical requirements needed to be 100% complete before anyone can be on the books to get paid. I am sure to emphasize this is the states requirements and out of my control.

Next, there is training involved.   First, I show potential aides how to transfer (move) me from my wheelchair into bed and then vice versa. They have to be successful in this area before we move on to additional training. Simply put, needing to be transfered is one of the main reasons I need home care.

After successful transfer training, we move on to morning training.  The trainee aide shadows one of my aides as we get up, showered and ready for the day.  The trainee is shown around my home to know where things are, and also shown how my van works to accommodate my wheelchair.

I told Mary if her physical requirements, her transfer training and her hands on training were all on track and done, the job was hers.  Keeping the job was another matter.

She had to be dependable, on time, trustworthy, and remain this way.  I told her dependability and trust worthiness were the only two things I could not teach her. I also explained she had to continue to meet my needs in order to keep her job.

Mary was super excited.  After our interview, she said she was going to call her doctor’s office and set up an appointment immediately.  Since everybody’s financial circumstances are different, I  told Mary about the Community Health Center in Middletown if she lacked health insurance.  They charged on a sliding scale, the clinic was clean and they accepted walk-ins every day.

My first red light regarding Mary should have been how long it took her to complete her physical requirements.  While it normally takes a new aide about a week to get everything done, it took her over three.

Next step – Training, in which she was pretty successful. I helped her fill out the remaining paperwork and sent everything to my insurance company to await approval.

Usually it takes about seventy-two hours for the results of a background and DMV check to be completed.  In the meantime, Mary started working.  It’s entirely reasonable for people to be nervous starting a new job and and not remember everything they learned in training. With Mary, it was as if she was never received any training at all.

She could not transfer me, even after being retrained again and again.  She would not use Universal Precautions, regardless of how much I reminded her. I would make a list of chores for her to do while she was here, and they would fail to get done.  She was too scared to drive me anywhere. Bottom line, she could not meet my needs.

Her background check came back soiled. Very soiled. All of the local police knew who she was as soon as I mentioned her name. One told me to check my jewelry immediately. Part of me wasn’t surprised because the results were taking much longer to come back than usual.  When I asked her about it, she said she got into some serious trouble as a minor and it was a sealed record.  I reminded her of our interview conversation regarding background checks and also pointed out the documents she signed, stating the information she gave was the truth, upon penalty of fraud.

I was mad. Being short staffed is extremely stressful. I had just wasted a month waiting for this girl to start working with me, and passed up other people interested in the position while I  waited. That part really chapped my ass. Wasting my time and then making my life harder because I had to run yet another classified ad. When I told her she could not be an employee of mine and why, she was shocked. She said she was entitled to her position here, due to all the hard work she put in to get the job.

When people start arguing with me in these circumstances and I am alone with them, I simply asked them to leave or I will call 911.  I don’t want to sound dramatic, but people can be very vindictive. I’ve learned my lesson the hard way.

Mary left. I do not think I will be bothered by her again. Unfortunately, Mary was not the first of her kind to grace us with her presence. What I’d like to know, is it really that hard to be honest?


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