Friday, 10 October 2014

Terrible Home Care

I've settled down enough that I can write about this. For all the strength and presence I have enjoyed over the years, these days I can get pretty rattled fairly easily. I don't know if my abilities have changed or if my fear has increased, but I find myself easily upset at times, especially when it comes to the Home Care people I have to let into my home now and again. Some of them are incredibly good; others are completely incompetent. Sometimes the whole agency, a company called CBI Home Health here in Calgary, seems out of touch with what they are supposed to be providing.

Today was a bad experience. My regular care worker is on vacation, visiting family in Toronto. She is very good at her work and I enjoy having her in my home. I know she cares about me; she is very kind to me and very encouraging. She even went so far as to text me yesterday to see how my clinic visit went on Wednesday. I like her.

While she is away they are sending another person to work with me. They are supposed to send competent, trained people who understand the nature of my exercises. If the person has not been trained, they are to send a supervisor to walk through the exercises with me. This systems has been hit and miss in the past; today it wasn't simply a miss, it was a giant miss.

The person sent by CBI Home Health had been here before. She is a new immigrant who barely speaks English. She is in her mid-fifties, heavy and difficult to communicate with. I don't care so much about all that; what I really care about is that she has no idea how to do my exercises and she is unable to read and interpret the Care Plan. She simply cannot do the job. This was the second time they sent her as a fill-in, with no regard to ability or capability, and no supervisor to boot. I told them last time not to send her, yet they sent her once again, completely unsupported and unable to care for me.

I told the care worker that she couldn't do the work and asked her if she could leave. Then came the upsetting part. This particular care worker does not understand how to use a cell phone; they have to check in and check out with my phone to confirm arrival and departure. This way the agency can confirm that they are, in fact, in my home when they say they are. It is a management and control system and I understand its purpose. However, since she cannot figure out how to use a basic cell phone, she made several tries, handing the phone back to me each time saying "Doesn't work."

I finally got frustrated to the point where I said "Tell me the number and I will dial it." She replied "I don't know number, only to dial it." This went back and forth several times and would have been comical had her tension not risen with each attempt. Finally I said, "I will just call the dispatch desk."

Then she got very agitated and said "No. They don't know this number." I am not sure what the hell she meant, but she refused to leave and refused to let me call the agency. I finally called regardless of what she said. Shen then refused to talk to her dispatch desk, saying she had to call this other number. I told the dispatch desk she wouldn't talk to them. Then the desk called the home care worker on her own cell phone; apparently she knows how to work that one. They told her to leave. She left.

Afterwards I called CBI Home Health and told them how upsetting this experience was, and that I never, ever wanted that person in my home again. This is part of the risk of using a home care service. You let strangers into your home, hoping that all will be well. Usually it is; sometimes it is not.


  1. Im sorry you had such a rough day today. I am not prejudiced at all but get frustrated when people in service industries cannot speak or understand English.
    Today, I sat in a nail salon where they could understand just enough English to take my money but then talked vietnamese to each other for the next 3 hours.
    I was always taught that was extremly rude.
    Hope your homecare situation improves.

  2. So sorry Rick about your frustrating day. I upsets you so and I don't like that.
    love you

  3. I understand completely as another person living with ALS who depends upon others for help and embraces diversity. However, I was placed in a nursing home and have zero control over who cares for me. Some are good, some are bad, a few are truly horrible, and none get ALS. Stay in your home until the end if possible. The US is no better. Keep on living!