A Minor Bump in the Road

It has been almost ten months since I engaged the services of an agency to provide a sitter for Kate three afternoons a week. I agonized over this for several months prior to taking action. I was concerned about how Kate would respond. It turned out I didn’t need to worry. She responded quite well. During the first couple of weeks we tried several sitters that didn’t work out, but we quickly settled into the two who are with us now. Anita comes on Mondays. Mary comes on Wednesdays and Fridays.

Although things have gone well, I have never completely adjusted to leaving her with someone else. On several occasions, one of the sitters has been unable to be here. In these cases, the agency was prepared to send a new person. Each time I declined. I didn’t want a new person to come in without our meeting her ahead of time. I know we are going to need more sitters as time goes on, but to me it is important to have them come out to the house for an initial interview before I leave them with Kate. That leads me to what happened yesterday.

Last week, I received a reminder of a meeting of an advisory board on which I agreed to serve several months ago. I called the agency to see if they could arrange for either of our current sitters since my meeting is in the morning and this is not one of our regular days. The person with whom I spoke said that they were both assigned to other clients at that time, but she would see if she could do some switching. I waited until Monday and called back to see if she had been able to make a change. She said she was still working on it.

When I hadn’t heard anything by yesterday, I called again. The person who answered the phone told me they were sending a new person. Of course, I told her I didn’t want a new person and that if that were impossible, I would just miss my meeting. I felt the person giving me the news was not as understanding as she should have been. I did not have a problem with their not being able to provide the regular sitters. I did object to their not calling me to let me know. I felt the person I spoke with yesterday was being too defensive and didn’t show  proper concern for Kate’s or my feelings about the situation. That was especially true since I would have to leave for my meeting before Kate would be up. I didn’t want her to wake up and find a stranger to greet her.

This is not a big issue, but it is the second time in the past few weeks that they have surprised me. The first one was a phone call asking me if I still wanted a sitter on Monday. I told them I did but was curious as to why they should ask. She said, “We noticed that you haven’t had anyone that day in a while.” I told her that one of those days was because the sitter was sick. The other was Memorial Day. They had specifically called to see if I would need them on that day. I told her, as I have for other holidays, that would not be necessary. I felt that should not have been construed as a desire or intention to reduce our in-home care. In fact, when we began the service I had conveyed my desire to keep Kate at home. That would eventually involve 24/7 care. It just seemed like they didn’t understand our situation.

As with so many things, I believe the situation could have been handled better on both ends of the line. I should have been more specific about my desires for sitters. I depended on that’s being conveyed to the staff by the representative with whom I made the original arrangements. I think I need to go into the office and meet with each of the staff personally. Communication is always so difficult, especially when you are dealing with multiple people. There are at least 4 different people I talk with at the agency. I believe each of them has individual responsibilities and skills that are different from the others.

As I say, today’s issue is not a major one. I just want the agency to be more of a partner in Kate’s care. They need a better understanding of situation and our long-term plans. I’m going to see if I can facilitate that.

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