Remember Your Personal Power

What's Your WheelchairIn today’s economy, it can be difficult to find employment. I am chronically short staffed in my home, always needing home health aides. Ironically, however, the most jobs created Nationwide over the last twelve months have been in home health care.

So with me needing staff, and with a multitude of folks becoming home health aides, it would make sense I would have a large response of people looking for work when I advertise for care. Not so.

Well, that’s not entirely true.  We easily receive a few hundred calls from a seven day classified ad, but 90% of the individuals who respond are individuals you would not allow on your property, let alone in your home. This is true regardless if I’m advertising  in newspapers, Craigslist, Hudson Valley Help Wanted, Facebook, the old-fashioned hanging up flyers method or by word of mouth.

Why is this?  Why is good help so hard to find? I used to think it was due to the job’s rate of pay. You are not going to get rich being a home health aide, so we’ve increased salaries out of our own pocket to pay more than my benefit’s allow.

We’ve paid health insurance premiums. I’ve had monthly bonus programs, rewarding people for not missing a day of work in one month. I’ve allowed aides to come in late, leave early and still pay them for a full shift.

I’ve hired a cleaning person, to make less work for my aides. I’ve hired separate drivers to take me to appointments for the same reason. All of these extras come out of our pocket, but if it improved my staff situation, it would be worth every penny.

I’ve considered I’m a horrible person to work for. I’m a total care individual, and I cannot change it. I refuse to spend my life in bed so nobody has to be bothered with the routine of helping me get up. Or throw on sweatpants everyday because they are the easiest to dress me in.  I’m 42 years old, I know who I am and what I want, and I’ll be damned if someone is going to come into our home and make my choices for me… Choices that make their job easier, not my life happier. Hell will freeze over first. It’s their job, but it’s my life.

I’ve spoken with many individuals who require home health care for themselves or for a family member. I’ve gone on forums to read other people’s ‘s experiences and to share mine. I told myself before I did this, if nobody else except me had the difficulties finding and keeping good staff, I would have to do some soul-searching and see what my problem was.

The nightmare was not my own. Every single person I read about or spoke with shared the same problems I did. Regardless of pay increases, less responsibility/same pay, more responsibilities/ more pay, incentives, perks and bonuses, good help in  home health care  is a rarity.

Once when I was placing a classified advertisement in a local newspaper, the person on the other end of the phone gave me her sympathy. When I started explaining life is good regardless of my disability, blah blah blah, she stopped me in my tracks.

She said the reason she felt bad was because ill intending individuals preyed upon ads like mine. I was shocked. And she was shocked I was shocked, especially after I told her I had been dealing with the same circumstances for years.

From what I’ve gathered, it is very easy to get “qualified” by a home health care agency to become an aide. It is also a job program the state will pay for if you are unemployed or are at certain income level. Many unemployed people take their course so they can prove they are trying to get a job… while actually the sole reason they are taking the course is so they have the best chance to stay on unemployment longer!

Think how happy they are when the employment office finds them a home health aide job? Should these be the people allowed in a person’s home to assist caring for them at any level??

If you are choosing to take care of another human being, there is only one reason you should do it. Because you want to. Not because you feel obligated, not because the training for it was easy to get and paid for by somebody other than yourself, and not because you think it may be the easiest of the jobs available.

And it’s pathetic I need to say something along the lines of,” And certainly not if you have ill intentions and are taking the job to take advantage of the individual you will be caring for.”

Yes, you would think that’s an obvious one. But you have a conscience. In addition, a friend of mine who is writer gave me the advice of never asking my readers to, “Read between the lines.” So there it is, in black and white.

I have had things stolen from me right out of my wallet, my home, my car and my bank accounts by former aides while they were at work, with me in the next room. And when they are caught red handed, whether by me or a home security camera, they could care less.

And while I’m normally an optimist, things seem to be getting worse in home health care. A few months ago, I had circumstances in which an aide threatened to kill me and I had to get the police involved. Unfortunately, this was not the first time the police have been involved with my aides, but it was the first time someone said they were going to kill me and be glad to do it. Thank God for restraining orders.

The only ones who care are the ones who have done something bad enough, they face jail time. Background checks are always performed, but people can be sneaky with name changes or  a sealed case from when they were a minor.  My life is challenging enough. I do not appreciate individuals who go out of their way to make it harder.

If I catch someone committing a crime against me, it’s over… The damage is done. You can bet, however, I follow through with the law for two reasons. One, the individual needs to know they can’t do wrong to their fellow human beings and get away with it.

Second, I do not want this person to ever be able to take care of someone else they could possibly do the same thing to. I think of folks who may not have the ability to speak up for themselves… children, the elderly, the mentally, developmentally and emotionally disabled. Can you imagine what kind of damage an ill intending person could do to them?

Although good help is hard to find, there are some true gems out there, and I have had the privilege of working with some of them. At times, aides use my job as a stepping stone towards nursing school or physical therapy school. They are fantastic when they are here, and that’s what counts.

It’s my pleasure to give them good references for ever… They deserve it. Some pick being a home health aide as a career. Bottom line…There is nothing I appreciate more than a good aide. They help my life stay productive and organized, my body healthy and my spirit happy.

While I try to make my care as easy as possible for those around me,  I draw the line at some point.  I have to live my life so I recognize myself, which gives me strength… If I don’t recognize myself and cannot feel my personal power, what’s the point to putting any clothes on and getting out of bed?  Why succumb to the demands of a lazy individual who doesn’t care about your well-being and tells you which pants are easiest for her to put on you.  Like I said, when hell freezes over.



  1. Laurie Gray says:

    I loved this piece Amy! I am so sorry that you have to deal with people like this. While there are bad people in every career, and walk of life those who take advantage of the disabled, elderly, and children are the lowest of the low. Good for you for watching hell freeze over first! 🙂

    • Thanks so much for your motivating comment! The people I really feel for our those that cannot defend themselves, verbally. When I think of a situation like that, where abuse is happening to a developmentally disabled individual and no one is aware, I realize I have nothing to complain about. Enjoy this beautiful weather and thanks again for reading!

  2. Lisa Lyle says:

    Hi Amy,
    I think you will remember me my mom Eleanor & Bobby were 1st cousins. We met quit a few times. I just read this article and felt compelled to share this. You know my mom died last May. Prior to her death my dad had been in a nursing home for 5 years. He had died in Feb 2013. During the years in the home mom witnessed a lot of in human indecencies like you describe. She was forever fighting battles with the nursing home administrators about the care (or lack of it) given by the aides. The tales are many an too long to go into but his treatment at many times was inhumane and sub standard right under the noses of administration. Admin always made excuses and covered up ever the most agreedious acts. Even when we called for a FLORIDA state investigation they lied, changed records, and cooersed everyone into lying.

    I tell you this because after my dad passed my mom was not able to let go of her anger. She agonized and was so guilty about what they did to him she could not let it go or move on with her life. All she wanted was “justice” and although we tried and reached out to every State agency no one cared. Not one bureaucrat stepped up to really find out the horrors and atrocities that these people carry out one the indefensible.

    Moms anger was so over the top I believe in the end her body could not take the stress and anxiety she felt. She died from a very rare form of Lymphoma. When I asked the Dr why she would have gotten this he said’ “normally the answer to that question is bad luck, no real cause just one of those rare cancers that happens. But in your moms case I believe it was her intense anger that brought this cancer on. Her body just couldn’t take it. ”

    I do believe that. It would wrong for me to say that all were bad, but in the five years and hundreds that attended him I can only think of 3 who were good and decent people. Shame on the entire system. Prayers to you & Michael Amy. I hope mom feels somewhat vindicated in Heaven that I told her story in your blog. Thanks for the platform. Lisa

    • Dear Lisa, thank you so much for sharing you and your mom’s feelings regarding your dad. I would love to write an article about this and postit on my website, but I wanted to ask you first. Again, it was a privilege to hear your mom’s thoughts. Best wishes, Amy

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