His hands shook and a little peach colored pill fell to the kitchen floor unnoticed by him, but not by me.
He gulped down the handful of the rest of the pills as I reached down and picked up the dropped pill off of the floor I had just swept.
"Don't forget this one," I say as I gently hand it to him. He looks surprised and instantly makes his apology for missing it.
"It's okay," I tell him, "I drop things too," trying to reassure him gently as I can for his agitation is clearly rising. He looks worried.
"I don't mean to forget them, or drop them you know? My family thinks I do this all of the time. I don't! Of course I don't! You know I take my pills."
He searches my eyes, my face for any signs of any doubting of his statement.
So WHERE does a caregiver draw the line of maybe this happens more than once-in-awhile? When DOES contacting the family about missed pills, or pills on the floor become needed?
Some clients I see only once a week. Some I see a few times a week. Some have a caregiver with them every single day. I always rely on the judgement of, "What would I do if this were my grandpa? Or my elderly parent?" If I am unsure I will call our company's care nurse and ask her if she thinks it warrants a phone call to the family. Is it becoming more frequent? Does it necessitate a pill runner, or a reminder service if they are in an assisted living facility? What if they aren't? What if they are at home?
My job isn't just about cleaning up after a client, it's about participating in their well being. It's being eyes and ears for the family. The fear clients have of us "telling on them" IS there. Especially if they know the family is in contact with the caregiver or employer frequently. Tact, and tone are important when reporting to the person in charge, or to the family member.
As a caregiver, I don't want to see them lose any more of their independence than their family members do.
I do however, want them to be safe. With medications, we have a duty to recognize an "oopsie" versus a "problem." Common sense SHOULD take care of that. Otherwise, open communication with any concerns we may have over our clients with our employers is ESSENTIAL. It makes the difference between a GOOD company and an OUTSTANDING company.