When a caregiver is hired to help with a loved one, a unique bond begins to form. The caregiver will soon be like family and even family members extended from the person needing the assistance and the spouse will begin to think of them as family.
When a caregiver is a volunteer from the neighborhood and just steps in on a once a week basis, they are soon thought of as family. This will at some point mean presents and acknowledgements of a deeper friendship. Gift may start as ‘let me pay for your gas, as the price of gas is so expensive’ and then move on to, ‘when we leave the medical appointment at 11:30AM, lets have lunch my treat, after all that is the least I can do’. How do we respond to this new place within the caregiving network?
Family and friends may or may not be concerned about this relationship; however what is going through the caregiver’s mind. This is a very difficult position to be in. As a caregiver you do not want to hurt feelings or present as a ‘better than you’ kind of relationship; still when trying to say ‘no’ to a gift or invitation it is hard to hurt the feelings of someone that you care about and/or respect.
There is an ethical line which should not be crossed, but how should a caregiver approach this? Instead of trying to back out of the situation by saying “I can’t take_____________” or “I am not allowed to accept gifts”; what might be better is if this was addressed in the original employment contract or discussion. I am always shocked at how many agencies do not put this in their contracts. What an enormous amount of questions that would resolve for everyone. You know, we could always write it in at the end of the contract! Agencies always tell their employees ‘accepting a gift is grounds for termination’ but never is this discussion taking place with the employing family.