Often times, when a loved one is ill or in need of round-the-clock home care, family members within the household take on the responsibility. Having someone that you know and trust, facilitating your care is understandably a logical route. And from the perspective of the family member who acts as the caregiver, it makes sense that you would initially want to support your ill or injured relative however you can. But, especially when long-term care is needed, such an arrangement can also induce strain on family relationships. The type of strain that wouldn’t be a factor if the care was being provided by a paid professional. When making the decision about who will aid you or your loved one with home care, here are some factors to take into consideration.
1. Time vs. Money
A relative may not charge you as much as a professional, or anything at all for that matter. Choosing them over a professional will almost always save you money. On the other hand, the caregiver may loose valuable time for education, work, other relationships, or hobbies, without fair compensation; This could lead to bitterness on the caregivers end. It could also decrease the caregiver’s desire to spend quality time doing other fun or typically enjoyable activities since they feel more obligated to “work” for the family member in need of care. The relative receiving care may also develop negative feelings towards their caregiver or themselves if they begin to feel like they are viewed as a “job” or a nuisance to their loved one. In some situations, families do not have the resources to hire outside help, but if it is an option, you should definitely consider if quality family time is more important than the money that can be saved.
2. Comfort vs. Competence
This is a very tricky thing to consider, as the comparison can be reversed to favor the family member in some cases, and the paid professional in others. It depends entirely on the individuals involved. In some cases, someone in need of care can be more comfortable with receiving their care from a loved one they personally know. They may trust the care and discretion of a family member over a stranger who is only providing assistance for a paycheck. Again, these attributes could be found more so in the professional or the relative, depending on the individual. Some family members will be more attentive, careful, and thorough simply because they are more invested in the patient. On the other hand, a professional who has been adequately trained and experienced will more often, be more competent in executing tasks that they do for a living. A professional is also held to stricter standards and risks losing their credibility if they are not competent at what they are paid to do.
3. Facts vs. Feelings
Providing assistance to someone that you personally care about (or receiving care from someone that you care about) will commonly mean that more feelings are involved, whether good or bad. Having a hopeful, upbeat, and positive family member administering care could help the patient to feel better overall. Unfortunately, when the related caregiver and patient are at odds, healthcare related or not, it can result in the caregiver performing poorly or the patient becoming more pessimistic. Family members may also have a more difficult time coming to terms or communicating facts with each other. If a patient is not putting forth their best efforts, or if “bad news” needs to be communicated on either end, family members will typically have a more difficult time communicating that to one another.
So before volunteering to provide care for a loved one, or asking a loved one to help care for you, consider the effects for both the patient and the caregiver. It is important to deeply reflect on the pros and cons of hiring a professional, as it will affect the whole family.