Since March, we have had a revolving door of staff working with Ben. Rather than discuss the gory details of each case, I decided to pass on what I learned from the experience.
Having staff in our home is both a blessing and a curse. It is wonderful to have someone to help with Ben's personal care and independent skill building. It gives me a break and also helps Ben work on skills I may not have the time to do or are not skilled at teaching. However, it also means that there is a loss of privacy within our home. Feeling comfortable with the people who work with Ben is imperative to me. His safety is my first priority. It is not only what a staff person may or may not do, but it is the gut feeling I get when it does not feel right. I may not be able to put my finger on the problem, but that should not discount my feelings.
These are a few things I have learned, and I would love for others to share any tips or ideas they have picked up through their own experiences.
- Trust your instincts and talk about any concerns with your spouse. Getting someone else's viewpoint can help you see the situation from another perspective.
- Try any new staff for one month, scheduling only a few hours to get a feel for the person's style. Let them know ahead of time what you are doing. This gives them an out also. They may also think this is not a good fit after a trial period.
- It does not have to be personal. Staff may not fit for your family's style, but might work well in another setting.
- When things are not going well with staff, it is normal for the parent to feel stress, anxiety about the situation, and uneasiness with how to handle the working relationship. These are signals that perhaps something needs to change.
- Use resources around you for support - hiring agency, case workers and other people you trust. They are trained to help and most likely they have dealt with these types of situations in the past.
- If it is possible to discuss the issues with the staff person, be sure to have someone from the hiring agency involved. Document issue and include date and any specific information, if possible.
- In some cases, speaking with the staff person will not get the desired results and you need an exit plan. How will you decrease their hours? Who will discuss this with them?
When you do find a staff member who loves your child and are the answer to your prayers...be sure to tell them how much you appreciate their work. It is a two-way street and everyone has to feel good about the situation.