What would you do regarding this this home health care employee/family conflict?

Here’s the sitch:

My father is widowed and in his late 80s. Starting in early May he suffered a precipitous loss of mobility . When he wakes in the morning he’s always in considerable pain, and while that abates as the day progresses, it hurts him quite a bit to walk or stand. This, obviously, makes living alone problematic. He resisted moving in with any of my sisters who live in the city (which was impractical anyway, as they all live in two story homes with the guest room on the second floor) and, for the sake of my own sanity, I declined to have him move in with me and my family. So we’ve hired some help–specifically our first cousin once removed, “Kat,” in her mid-twenties. She was looking for both a job and a new place to live when we started looking for in-home care, so it seemed a good fit.

Kat has moved into one of the three empty rooms in Dad’s house. She does the cooking, cleaning, and shopping, drives him around as needed, and so forth–everything but yard work. After taxes she nets a few hundred a week, plus free rent, water, & electricity; she pays for her own food, gas, phone, and so on. My older brother, baby sister, and I each pay a fourth of her salary, while my younger sister and two of my older sisters split the final quarter between them. My older brothers and baby sister don’t live in the same city as Dad; the other sisters and I do.

Okay, that’s the background. Now here’s the problem. One of my older sisters, “Jane,” is upset with certain aspects of this setup. There are four areas of contention.

First, while Kat keeps the rest of the house immaculate, her own bedroom is often fairly cluttered (clothes on the floor and so forth), something Jane discovered when she decided to do a pop inspection. Jane told Kat she didn’t want to see that mess again; Kat responded by putting a lock on her bedroom door and keeping it locked whenever she’s not in it. Jane doesn’t like this. Since part of Kat’s compensation is free rent, Jane says, her bedroom should be accessible to the people paying her wages.

Second, Kat has put a small refrigerator in her bedroom. This was in response to another sister’s deciding to cook Dad a special meal one day; she went to Dad’s house to get supplies, and in the process used some of Kat’s groceries. Upset by this, Kat borrowed my old mini-fridge and now keeps the food she buys for herself in her own room. Hearing about this, Jane was again upset; the mini-fridge is a pointless running up Dad’s utility bill, she claims.

Third is Sundays. That’s supposed to be Kat’s day off, are so on those mornings she gets up, makes sure Dad is all right, makes him a bowl of cereal, and goes off to do her own thing until late in the evening, leaving it to one of his daughters to get him to church if he chooses to go. Jane doesn’t like this. Dad likes to go to church, and Jane thinks should Kat take him there, stay with him till services are over, and wait till then to go off by herself. (This, I think, is largely about making sure Kat goes to church, which I also think is none of Jane’s fucking business.) She also thinks that Kat should tell us exactly where she’s going when she’s gone on Sundays, instead of just being available by phone.

Fourth is driving. As I wrote above, Dad’s pain manifests mostly when he is standing or walking; sitting down he is okay, or at least he is after he’s been up a few hours. So sometimes, if he needs a refill on a prescription, Kat lets him drive the car and just rides along; if he’s not feeling strong on the ride back she’ll take the wheel then. Jane objects to this to; she doesn’t think Dad should have to drive at all.

Last is governance. Periodically Jane will give Kat an order (such as to give her a key to the lock on the bedroom door, get rid of the mini-fridge, etc). If Kat feels uncomfortable she’ll come to me about that, and as the above may imply, I’ve countermanded such orders. I feel this is my right–partly since I am contributing twice as much to Kat’s wages as Jane, but mostly because think Jane’s complaints are bullshit. But I don’t get along with Jane, and I’m somewhat concerned that I may be allowing my dislike of her to color my opinion, so I’d like some feedback from y’all on this issue. Thoughts?

Jane needs to chill the fuck out. She’s unreasonable and I sincerely doubt a non-family member health care aide would put up with any of it.

My thought is you’re lucky to get Kat. The conveniences she’s added are reasonable. IMHO, Jane sounds like she would have other control issues even if these were resolved in her favor. The more you and your family give into Jane, the more you’ll have to. Trust your judgment.

Jane is as tightly wound as they come (I’m surprised she hasn’t strangled herself with her own moral convictions) and no, she’s not right. Kat seems to perceive that Jane is every shade of entitlement crazy (after all, she’s PAYING her SALARY!) and has taken some steps to preserve her sanity and her personal space.

I have to say, if this were my family arrangement, I’d pow-wow with the other reasonable adults and see what we could do about removing Jane from the equation altogether, and making up the difference in her contributions. She could run Kat off, and from what you’ve written, seems she takes fairly good care of your father.

My only point of disagreement would be in allowing your dad to drive. Late 80’s, chronic pain? Possibly taking prescription narcotics? I wouldn’t subject Kat (and other pedestrian) to the risk. This is, I know, a very huge issue with our elderly parents. It was with my own father, who remained in his “right mind” well into his 80’s, but crippling health problems meant he was unsafe to drive probably a decade before he actually stopped. I refused to be a passenger in his vehicle after experiencing one too many narrow escapes based thankfully on the quick reflexes of the other drivers he would cut in front of. He would be genuinely puzzled at my frightened shock. “They had plenty of room to slow down!!” He’d scoff, even as the tires were still shrieking, the aroma of burning rubber in the air, horn laid on for an ear-splitting minute. Dad was mostly deaf. I went to his doctor and requested that he write to the DMV. Doctor dragged his feet and hemmed and hawed for close to two years (small town, close friend of my father, made a moronic value judgment that driving in Tumbleweed, Illinois wasn’t too risky). It wasn’t until he started visiting a heart specialist that my family was able to get his license taken away. Even at that, we had to hide the keys and deal with very unpleasant melt-downs as he tried to cope with his loss of independence. That hurt him more than anything else he suffered, including getting to a point where he needed his adult daughters to change his diapers for him :frowning:

Jane is about to drive away a hell of deal for home health care for you guys, and you all are going to be pissed when Kat is gone and you are paying 6 times the amount you are paying now for the same level of service.

Jane sounds like a hag. Nothing Kat has done is out of bounds in the slightest.

Jane is being an ass and needs to quit doing it.

As Kat tells it, she refuses to let Dad drive more often than she lets him. She’ll only hand over the keys in the late afternoon–after he’s been up long enough for his morning pain to subside, but while it’s still light out, and in any event no further than from than to the nearest Walgreens, which of course is never far.

Jane needs to mind her own business. If you hired a home health care aide to live-in, they would be allowed their own space, without Jane doing a “pop-in inspection.” Ditto for the aide keeping food in the fridge or somewhere without others taking it. Even though you’re paying her wages, she has the right to privacy.

Does your father want to drive to the store? Is he able to drive? As long as Kat is there to drive back, what’s the big deal?

Jane has no right to know where the aide is on her day off. Furthermore, if it’s her day off, why does she need to be reachable by phone? Jane also has no right to insist that Kat go to church.

Jane needs to back off, and be glad there’s someone willing to work (seemingly) around the clock, six days a week.

Is Jane Kat’s mom?

Yes. Meant to add this.

I had to hire a HHA for my mother when she lived with me, and we had a death in my husband’s family. My mother at that time wasn’t on a medical assistance waiver. I had to pay out of pocket. I elected to go with a reputable agency, especially since it was last minute, and I didn’t have time to interview private HHA’s. It was nearly $2000 for 6 days (2 AIDES, not registered nurses, wage inflated as the agency took their cut). And I went with the cheapest agency we could find.

Barring a correction from Skald, I believe that Kat is the grandchild of an unnamed sibling of one of Skald’s parents. Unless I’ve misinterpreted what first cousin once removed means.

Jane needs to chill the fuck out.

Good luck with that.

OK, I feel like wasting some time, so let me go point-by-point, as maybe it will make you feel better, even if it won’t convince Jane.

First, the cluttered room. As long as we’re not talking about filth that will attract pests, then Jane needs to chill the fuck out. As “free rent” isn’t free, but part of a compensation package, then that area, for the moment, belongs to Kat. Leases will often stipulate that a tenant needs to keep an area in good repair and not present a health hazard, but clutter ain’t that.

Second, the mini fridge. Jane needs to chill the fuck out. A mini-fridge uses less than $10 of electric a month unless it’s got broken seals or something. If she’s willing to lose a good caregiver over $10 a month, then…well, she just needs to chill the fuck out.

Third, the day off. A day off is a day off. Is she willing to give Kat another 4 hours or so off on another day to compensate for the time spent working on her “day off”? No? Then Jane needs to chill the fuck out.

Fourth, the driving. Again, say it with me. Jane needs to chill the fuck out. If he still has his license and the doctor hasn’t seen fit to restrict it, then I (as a nurse) would advise him to drive whenever the fuck he wants to. It’s insulting and inappropriate to limit the activities of elders simply because they’re old and they have help. He’s lost a huge amount of control in his life in the last few months, and if the man wants to drive his own car, and as long as it’s safe for him to do so (as determined by his doctor, not his stick-up-the-ass daughter), then he should. She, and Kat, and you all should be *encouraging *him to keep doing everything that he can for himself himself, whether that be driving occasionally, throwing a load of laundry in the washer or making his own sandwiches. Do NOT force him to become completely dependent before his body does. That way lies Depression and Anxiety, which are real problems in elder care, not to mention the risks of Obesity or Failure to Thrive and increased pain due to not being encouraged to be active enough.

Kat should be there to help as needed, and not a whit more.

What I would do is something I doubt you are willing to do. I would tell Jane that, if she spoils the current care arrangement with Kat, that she is in charge of finding a new caregiver that meets her unreasonable demands–and tell Jane you will not be contributing toward the cost. I would try to enlist the other siblings who pay larger portions of Kat’s salary to say the same.

All of Jane’s complaints are unreasonable. My grandparents had in-home care nurses (professionals) for years, and they were paid more and did less than Kat.

Jane is completely in the wrong here, and if she runs off Kat you will be paying a shitload more money for someone who will put up with far less of this nonsense. You and the other siblings need to get together and shut her down, seriously.

Several hundred dollars a week for working 24 hours a day, 6 days a week (and part of the 7th day!) is an insane deal. That she does it with love and concern is a huge bonus. No offense (I hope) but your dad sounds like a real piece of work from the stories you’ve told over the years. Between that, and Jane being an asshole, you are very very lucky Kat is still there.

Get Jane to knock it off, or pay her share and get her out of the whole thing. She is completely, completely in the wrong here.

Missed the “once removed”. I thought he just called her a “First cousin” as a way to designate that generation (parents, siblings, first cousins).

Is there an employment contract in place? Writing one might help protect Kat.

Kat is our first cousin once removed. That means she is the child of one of our first cousins.

Our only dead first cousin, incidentally. I mention this only because I miss her dad.

And it is just clutter, not filth that’ll attract pests. She’s positively anal about cleanliness in the rest of the house (she’ll scrub down both bathrooms every day, for instance, even on her nominal day off), but in her own room she’ll just drop books and such on the floor. This I know because she was recently trying to persuade me that I am missing out hugely on not playing video games, so I was in there while she demonstrated Call of Duty or whatever it’s called. The floor was littered with video game thingies and Blu-Rays, but the place wasn’t DIRTY.

You know, I’ve been concerned that we’re paying Kat too little. We didn’t research much into the costs of a home health care worker because she volunteered so early in the process of looking for one and set the price she wanted; I think her primary thought was to be able to spend a year saving up up money. She was the one who set the price, and it seemed to me she undervalued herself. Anyway, I’ve been thinking of adding some extra to her pay, and now i’m wondering if I should contact my little sister (who set up the payment arrangements, including insisting that the social security and whatnot be paid) and saying, “Look, take Jane off the deal and I’ll cover the difference.”

But on review I won’t. Jane won’t object to not paying, but she’ll still insist on visiting Dad and trying to assert her authority, and she has a key to the house. I don’t see a point in reducing her share. What I will do is tell Kat to continue ignoring stuff that’s outside the agreement. Hell, if I were she, I’d leave the house on Saturday evenings (I’m pretty sure she spends her day off with her boyfriend) and return Sunday evenings, but I don’t think her conscience will allow that; she’d be worrying about Dad all day Sunday.

Ok, somehow this got under my skin and made me mad, and now I have to vent about it :slight_smile:

This is nuts! Did Jane even mention to anyone else she’s doing “pop inspections”? Who authorized her to act like this?? Kat comes across as so reasonable here; I would have gone the fuck off if I found that bitch “inspecting” my bedroom. Like someone else said, it isn’t free rest; it’s PAYMENT! If it makes Jane feel better, raise Kat’s wages by $600 a month, and charge $600 a month rent. There, now it’s her room.

Ok, I’m just going to be blunt. Jane is upset because she thinks it’s her right to use Kat’s food, possibly because she thinks that she is paying for it (because it’s bought out of the salary Jane pays). Or perhaps she’s just upset that Kat essentially called out the other sister a thief. Again, Kat is being so super reasonable here. How do you deal with Jane? She sounds awful. No wonder you don’t like her.

Kat shouldn’t be available by phone. Kat shouldn’t be making cereal. Kat shouldn’t be expected to be available AT ALL from the time your Dad goes to sleep on Saturday until he wakes up on Monday. The poor girl gets one fucking day, and then she’s robbed of most of that??

Look, Skald, I know how long those black church services go on for. :wink: Ain’t no way Kat’s getting anything else done after. And you know if Jane got her way on that, Kat would be expected to take him to dinner at Pickadilly afterwards too. And the audacity of trying to force her into going to services!

Maybe if Jane feels this strongly about Sundays, give Kat Saturdays off. Or tell Jane to shove it up her ass.

This is the only remotely reasonable complaint, but given that it comes from Jane, I feel confident dismissing it. Also, there’s a little tell at the end of the paragraph; Jane doesn’t think Dad should have to drive at all. This isn’t about safety. Again, it’s about micromanaging by a woman with not enough to do. She obviously feels her tiny contribution to Kat’s meager salary gives her absolute power over every aspect of Kat’s life. Disabuse her of that notion, please.

If anything you are far too kind. I would have lost my shit on Jane long ago.

I just saw your reply to me, Skald. Kat sounds like a sweetie. She may in fact deserve more, but if she’s happy, I don’t think you should feel bad, or feel you’re taking advantage of her. I didn’t mean to imply you guys were all a bunch of jerks tricking some kid in to doing your dirty work. But Jane needs to fuck off, for real.

Jane is seriously fucking up a very very good deal you have made for your father.