Need a place to vent

Hi everyone,

I don’t know if this is the right place to discuss a few job issues I have, but I just need somewhere to vent. I work as a personal care attendant for a home healthcare agency. My job duties are to go into client homes and assist them with things they need help with them, these clients are either elderly or disabled. Two out of the four clients I’ve had have been nice and patient people. I’ve had two clients who have been nightmares. One woman was in her late 70s and seemed to suffer from some kind of cognitive issues. She was always rude to me and any time I asked what she needed assistance with she said she didn’t help with anything. This same woman’s house while not extremely disgusting was a bit gross and it was obivious she wasn’t big on home hygeine or personal hygeine. She only a broom and dustpan. She didn’t even have a mop, vaccum, and other cleaning supplies. When it came to personal hygeniene, she smelled really bad and almost like feces and her breath also smelled extremely foul. Most of her teeth were gone and the remaining teeth which were on her lower right side looked really yellow and hollowed out. I did my best to clean her home and I even gave her refrigerator which had a lot of grease, dust, and sticky stuff a good cleaning and she still whined to the agency. Part of my job duties is to sometimes drive clients to do clients and appointments and when I drove the client around she accused of me tailgating which I wasn’t doing and she even made some comment that I was trying to purposely get in an accident. The client ended up requesting another PCA and I admit I was glad she did that because she was toxic and very rude.

The second terrible client I’ve had is a very recent client. She is terminally ill and I sympathize with her a bit. She was nice in the beginning, but on Friday she was nasty with me for no good reason. Her bedroom which she spends most days in is right across from her bathroom. One of the tasks she gave me for the day was to clean her tub, bathroom, and sink. I started cleaning her tub with a rag and a powdered cleanser. Maybe I had fault in not asking how she likes her tub cleaned, but I was doing my best as usual. She started complaining that I need the water running in the tub and I did that and then started saying i was taking to long cleaning the tub and I started to get nervous at that point. I had cleaned inside of the tub and the upper corners. She kept saying that I didn’t need to take so long so I quickly finished up and because I was nervous and feeling her hositility, I forgot about the side of the tub. She started calling me lazy and she made other comments that I didn’t quite hear. I felt like crying. She called me into her bedroom and then had me make her breakfast, feed her cat, and doing a load of laundry. Again I was nervous and feeling humiliated due to the lazy comment. I did the other tasks and I had forgotten about the sink and the toliet. As my shift ended, she complained again and called me lazy. I was really upset as a left and this might sound wrong of me but I stopped feeling sympathy for her. I’m worried that she will talk to the agency and tell them I was lazy when I wasn’t. Maybe I wasn’t doing things exactly how she wanted them to, but I was doing things the best way I knew how to and I wasn’t being lazy at all. Hell I had to drive 30 minutes to her home.

The problem with working in the home healthcare agency is that the clients are always seen in the right and some clients get away with being verbally abusive to PCAs who work hard for them. I just needed somewhere to vent because this is difficult to talk about and it’s hard to find people who realize that some elderly and disabled people can be nasty.

You sound like you need a little more self-confidence. You know this is not about you: this is elderly people in poor health who are cranky because of pain and / or immanent death. Acknowledge what they say with a smile, but ignore it. You are experiencing exactly what every other employee does, so you’ll get in exactly the same amount of trouble for it: my guess is none. Just be unfailingly cheerful and polite and occasionally say firmly, “I’m sorry. I won’t be spoken to like that. Now, is there anything else you need before I go?”

I know the clients may be cranky, but I still feel that I deserve a little respect too and I shouldn’t be labeled things that I’m not.

Yes, some old people can be very rude and difficult to deal with. Hell, some young people too.
But, dementia and health problems don’t make old age easier, that’s for sure.

Maybe you should consider another direction for yourself? Some people are just not cut out for this type of work.

I know it would be hard for me because I have a real sensitivity to bad odors.

Anyway, I hope the venting helps. Good luck.

You are taking this all personally, when you acknowledge there’s dementia and other problems which have absolutely nothing to do with you. If you continue in this line of work, you will have to be stronger and more confident. This is a solo job, so no one can back you up. If you’re doing your best, you should know it. No one is going to be there to tell you.

The best defense against a lot of this shit is silence. That and not putting your ego front and center as the target of the abuse. I know, I know, people hear or read ‘ego’ and get defensive (that’s the ego defending itself).

It isn’t about you.
It is about them.
If you don’t react to their shit, it will bother them more than if you defend yourself. (And yes, that’s a positive thing.)
You gain nothing by defending yourself or even reacting to it.

Hell, the best defense would be to completely ignore it and don’t listen to any sentence in which they’re trying to get you. If they get on you about your hearing, you could say “I hear everything, I just don’t listen to everything.”

People with any remaining speck of intelligence will eventually figure out that you’re not taking their shit, but not giving them any openings.

When people insult you, ask yourself one question: Is it true?
If it is true, then make a note of it and if necessary, do something about it.
If it is not true, why are you upset? Are you afraid that it could be true? (in which case, you have to go back to that first question with a bit more self-honesty) Are you just angry because they’re saying something that isn’t true? If so, why are you angry about it?

If the answer to that is: “The other person is being an asshole”, then step back a second.

Their insult isn’t true, they’re being unpleasant and it isn’t about you. It’s about them.
How you choose to react and act is about you.

And I gotta tell you, as I experimented with and learned very well during my Security career, there’s nothing more self-satisfying than to laugh and remain polite and pleasant in the face of someone making a complete ass out of themselves and trying (and seeing themselves failing) to ruin your day. Dance little puppet! Yell and scream and carry on while I smile in your face and call you sir while not giving you anything to justify your behavior! The edge is right over there! Keep pushing and you’ll make it!" :stuck_out_tongue:

Are you worried about loosing your job? If that is the case, sit down with your coordinator and discuss what you need to communicate with them.

I can deal with the bad odors most of the time and I did well with two clients. I think can handle this type of work for the most part. I can be very compassionate to those with dementia and health problems.

I’ve talked with my managers in the past and they backed me up after an incident with the first bad client when she got mad that I was unable to take care to an errand. But most of the time from talking with other caregivers, it seems like the agency always sides with the clients even if they are in the wrong.

Ah, let me tell you a secret. If most people could handle your job, they would be doing it for their parents and grand-parents, instead of hiring you.

You should probably keep a long of your visits - what you did, how your clients reacted, etc., in case your boss has any questions. If a client does ask that you be replaced, it might be some quirk or preference on their part.

As others have said, do not take this personally. You are a paid professional, and handling this is part of the job.

Home health nurse here. The RN, so my job isn’t 1/10th as hard as yours, I just get to make the difficult decisions, including when to restaff for personality conflicts.

First thing to remember: These people have lost control, and they’re mad as hell about it. They can’t shop, they can’t cook, they can’t clean their own g-d bathtub. Hell, some of them can’t control their own bowels or wipe their own asses. And no one, NO ONE, gazes into their future as a young person and pictures themselves as an old person sick in bed listening to a stranger scrub their bathtub the wrong way while sitting in a diaper full of shit. Everybody who ends up that way is surprised that they ended up that way. And this is not the good kind of surprised.

People respond to the loss of control in many different ways. Some are super sweet until the moment they lose it. Some are sad and close off. Some deny and deny that they need help and injure themselves because they try to do things that aren’t safe anymore. Some are angry, bitter and criticize everything. None of it is actually about you. It’s about the fact that, deep down inside, that bitter old bitch wishes like hell she could just get down on her knees and scrub her bathtub, the way she likes it.

Just keep reminding yourself that you’re there for a few hours. This is their life.

Definitely talk to your boss, in a calm fashion. It may very well be that they “side” with the patient, because, frankly the patient pays the bills (or Medicare does). But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be disciplined or fired. It may just be that you’ll be reassigned to other patients. I will often notice when one of my CNAs just doesn’t hit it off with a patient, and I’ll reassign them to someone else. It’s not that they are bad CNAs, they’re not. They are great CNAs. But certain personality combinations just work better than others. We have enough patients that I can switch them up and keep everyone’s schedule full if one assignment doesn’t work out. So getting pulled off a patient is annoying and disruptive, but it’s not a sign you’re going to be fired, in my company.

Getting fired, in my company, happens when you no show/no call, are consistently late, and/or you don’t call the RN if you have alert values on your vitals signs. It’s stuff that actually affects patient care and safety, not whether or not the patient likes you.

On a practical note, do try to ask them if they have any “tips” or “suggestions” for how to do things. People tend to like it when they’re the source of wisdom. Not everyone responds well to that - some will snap, “What, don’t you know how to clean a bathtub?!” but then at least you know which kind of person you’re dealing with.

I like the idea of keeping a log. What do the other employees do?

Also, I always advise the nurses I supervise that the only cure for a difficult client is to be politely professional at all times.

Good luck!


As I say, Fear and Anger come from powerlessness. How much moreso when you’re powerless over your own mind and body? When you can’t take care of yourself anymore and someone else has to do it for you.

How frightened and angry will each of us be when our body fails us and we know we’re on that last slow ride into darkness?

I know many of you have said not to take it personally and that the comments aren’t about me, but I’m sorry I feel that the comments are partially about me. I really understand the frustrations of clients/patients, but I still feel that it is wrong that carevgivers are expected to accept abuse. The recent client on Friday seems to be ok mentally and yes I sympathize with her. But the lazy comments drove me up the wall, yes I’m an imperfect person but I was doing my best and she made me nervous and emotional.

You’re either going to have to get past that, or you’re ultimately going to have a short(er) career in the field.

Probably best you start planning for that now. No, that isn’t a personal thing. Just ask yourself how long you really want to do this job, and look around at your company and your co-workers and see what the average length of a career is. When people you know move on to other, different jobs, ask them how long they did the PCA thing and why they’re leaving. Careers are seldom life-long anymore and I strongly encourage people to learn whatever skills they can from their current jobs and start thinking about what they can do next that will either pay more, or make them happier in life. If you can get both, so much the better.

In short, start thinking “Where can I go from here?”

You are the FOCUS of their comments, but that still doesn’t mean it’s about you. The same comments get made to whoever is standing there.

needhelp is lazy” means “I hate the fact that some stranger is in my home doing things for me that I used to be able to do.”

Of course you shouldn’t take abuse. But to some extent, you decide what constitutes abuse. You must draw a line somewhere: don’t let them throw things at you. Don’t let them shout at you. But perhaps you should allow them a little verbal venting. At the end of the day, you go home with your health and some money. They live themselves 24 / 7.

Being elderly and unable to care for your own heath,hygiene and home is terrifying. When you lost all the abilities you used to have most get depressed or angry. If you’re the caretaker you are get the brunt of it. It doesn’t mean your lazy.It means you’re there and your patient is using you to project their own fears and insecurities on to. Being difficult is probably the only thing these poor souls feel they have control over. Instead of getting upset,show some compassion. Document what you do so your butts covered with your employer. Try to remember these people are difficult because they are lonely old and in pain. If you take their rants too personally then you are most likely in the wrong profession.

How old/experienced a person are you, needhelp? I get the feeling you are on the young side.

Anyway, your clients need help or you would not be there. Some of them may actually be crazy. But it is a noble task and worth enduring some craziness. Obviously you gotta take control long before they start beating you over the head &etc.