Millions of home health care aides report bullying by their client’s families and sometimes the client themselves. I worked in healthcare for 11 years and I have certainly had it happen to me. But I was lucky. I was in a position where I would drop the client’s case and walk away. However, many home health aides feel trapped in hostile environments and aren’t in a position to get out.
Moreover, I know a home health worker who cared for a client six hours per day. She worked four days a week and the elderly client was satisfied with the help she give her. Yet the client’s family totally screwed everything up for her (the client). And the worker had no choice but to drop the client in her refusal to deal with the family.
I’ll call this worker, Shelly. And we’ll call the client, Mrs. Shayes.
Here’s what she had to say when she told me her story:
“I truly feel bad for my former client, Mrs. Shayes (not the client’s real name). Her family bullied good care workers and I truly felt bad for her. But I had to put my own health first and walk because these people were bordering on dangerous. I was the ninth worker this poor lady had in the span of only a year. So, that, in itself, spoke volumes.
When I first began working for and taking care of Mrs. Shayes, I noticed several red flags. The family members would talk such trash about the last health care worker who took care of her. Yet they put me on a pedestal because I did my job and was dedicated to my client. Although, this made me suspicious and leery of these people, I continued to do my job. I showed up every morning and did what I needed to do to meet her needs.
An Unsanitary house
The client lived in a house with six healthy adults, including two who were freeloaders. Two babies also lived there. The place was so filthy, it looked like a hog pin. Some mornings, I would arrive to see a dirty diaper or two lying in the dinner table- seriously! A dookie diaper! On the kitchen table! Where people eat!
Furthermore, When I went to do Mrs. Shayes’ laundry, I would go into the laundry room and wade through two feet of wall-to-wall dirty and smelly clothes to get to the washer and dryer. The living room and hallway floors were also spotted with dog and cat pee/poop and the stench was enough to make you gag!
It was disgusting- so disgusting that flies and gnats were buzzing everywhere. In short, the place was a real sh*thole! These people were nasty!
Poor Mrs. Shayes and two toddlers lived in this! It just goes to show what pigs her family were. And I know I shouldn’t say these things, but these people definitely shouldn’t be allowed to have children or a helpless elderly woman in their care. Because, I kid you not, these people lived live cockroaches.
I say cockroaches because animals lived better than this.
A toxic family and work environment
Also, I would personally witness them yell and curse Mrs. Shayes on a regular basis and it would absolutely infuriate me to no end. It takes the lowest kind of lowlife to abuse an elderly and disabled person. It occurred to me that they did this as a way to control her.
Words cannot describe what rotten maggot ridden garbage I worked around. Not only did I fear for this lady, I also feared for my own health as well. You just knew that house was a breeding ground for bad bacteria.
Additionally, when I informed the company after work, they informed me that they had contacted the state and an ombudsman on numerous occasions.
This family was so dysfunctional that they would even curse each other out and get into fights and screaming matches. I can tell you why I stayed. I continued to work in that kind of environment because I worried for the client. But, in the back of my mind, I knew that it was only a matter of time before they would come for me.
And sure enough, they did.
The company I worked for set it up that each morning I arrived, I was to call in from one of the family member’s cellphones. It was how I reported that I’d arrived at the client’s residence to start my shift. Everyone in the family were night owls so they often slept until about 1-2pm. So, most days, I would wake one of them up in order to use a cellphone to call in.
However, When I woke the 21 year old grandson to use his phone, he shouted at me and threw the phone at me because I’d awakened him.
Later that day, I called somewhat of a meeting with the family and attempted to resolve the problem. I asked if someone could leave their phone sitting in the kitchen where I could call in without waking one of them. That’s when Mrs. Shayes, granddaughter’s boyfriend, who lived with them at the time, blew up and approached me like he was going to physically attack me. Talk about a house full of wolves!
under threat of physical attack
As such, I demanded in a stern voice that he ‘get away from me, now!’ But he kept inching his way closer. That’s when I was done. No way was I going to allow these lowlifes to abuse and talk down to me. I immediately called the company from my cellphone and told them that I was leaving, that these people were batshit crazy, and I never wanted to work at this residence again.
So, I “fired” them! It was good riddance to bad rubbish. And when I walked away from these people, my company understood because, as I said before, I had been the ninth worker they’d sent to the residence. Therefore, they didn’t terminate me. They’d just gotten a new client and they sent me there minutes after I left “the wolves den.”
However, the sad thing is that in abusing their loved one’s health aid, they made it difficult for Mrs. Shayes to keep good workers to take care of her. So, I believe that she was the one who suffered the most from this.
God opened an even bigger and better door for me! I had the good sense and courage to walk away and got a better client, so I ended up winning. Yay me! Just say no to drama!
a family investigated by the state
From what someone told me later, the state continued to investigate these people. I don’t know what came of Mrs. Shayes but I can only hope and pray that the state removed her from the home and placed her in a clean environment with caring people where she could be safe and live out her golden years in peace…”
I feel for Shelly, but even more, I feel for the lady who lived under such conditions and, like Shelly, who obviously hated to leave because she felt as if she was leaving her client to be abused, I hope the lady ended up in a more wholesome environment.
Also, I’m proud of Shelly for putting her safety first and escaping such a toxic family. Know that home healthcare workers do a thankless job and they’re often the objects of bullying either by the client, or their families. And most often, it is the families of the clients who abuse these workers and I would advice any home health aid never to be afraid to walk out if these conditions arrive.
Shelly was lucky in that she had the support of the company she worked for. In most cases, however, most companies will side with the abusers. And, if that’s the case, than these companies do not deserve to have such dedicated workers under their employ.
Understand that when you work in someone else’s home, it puts you at the mercy of not only the client, but also their families.
With knowledge comes empowerment!