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Caregiver Ethics on Competitive Caregiving

The importance of looking beyond the caregiver’s interests in his/her own job is rarely done by institutionalized agencies because of the Walmart effect: When many caregivers are categorized without consideration of their personal strengths, and are boxed in and forced to work to serve as many clients as possible for the lowest cost as designed by the government healthcare system, the result is higher risk, lower quality care, and very little compassion. Case in point: about thirteen years ago, our agency was hired to provide a certified aide for a client who lived in an assisted living facility. The facility had their own home health aides, but the client didn’t want any of them. Her personal caregiver was favored by the client because of the history of wonderful companionship the two shared when the client was still at home. The competitive nature of the in-house caregivers at the assisted living facility perpetuated a working environment full of booby-traps and pitfalls to the personal aide. The in-house aides wanted her to fail so that they can takeover. That same year on New Year’s Eve, there was a celebration at the facility and many employees of the facility were apparently violating the no-alcohol policy, according to our home health aide. The in-house home health aides attempted as always, to set their enemy up for failure as done in the past by making false accusations regarding her performance. To that day, the aide successfully defended herself through her diligent and emotionally intelligent ways. However, on this New Year’s Eve, it was a full-scale invasion. The supervisor, with the support of her aides called the Police to cooperatively accuse our aide for drinking on the job. A breathalyzer test revealed no such alcohol was consumed by our aide. The Police left, but such an incident went without further questioning of the alcohol levels of the accusers, which our caregiver stated was “probably off the charts”. Early the following year, our home health aide eventually left the job because the stress of the harassment by the facility workers was too much. The saddest part of this story is that the client lost a valuable caregiver and friend, while the greed and unethical behavior of the institution prevailed. Everyone lost.

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