The Supply and Demand of Caring
Caregivers get pulled, stretched, pushed, shoved, knocked and grilled by so many elements.
It never ceases to amaze me when I meet or talk to a caregiver whose attitude is pure hope, optimism and grit.
This is the case with Mr. Smith whose wife has a chronic condition that has her confined to a bed indefinitely, and lately we’ve been struggling with getting him a much needed item on time and in ample supply.
Not our fault, but yes! …As an Agency we are responsible.
Mr. Smith calls our office quite often, for all the right reasons. He’s very concerned, but courteous and understanding of the realities of a healthcare system that’s not perfect but it’s what we have.
We are in short supply of this item, he knows it, I can feel the frustration in his voice. He is torn by what he feels and what he won’t say. I know that and it frustrates me, we have to fix this now!
Our medical supplies company has let us down time and time again, why are we still with them?
It’s Friday 5:30pm, the client is out of supplies and my supplier is not picking up the phone. I’ve had enough!
I call the local retail supplier for that specific item, they have 4 of them left, I buy them at three and a half times my normal cost, but I don’t care at this point. I’m obsessed with not putting us and Mr. Smith/caregiver in this position again!
I bought enough to last me the weekend. First thing Monday I called a well know local wholesaler … it’s a long shot, these guys sell by the pallet, large shipments overseas and only to large domestic suppliers. We are a small family ran home health agency with a problem they couldn’t possibly relate to or care about!
But I asked anyway, it so happens they are starting a division in their company to service smaller providers in our local area, they literally started this last week. I was their first client!
My item was so unique and in low quantities that they didn’t have it in stock, but the hero I was dealing with went out of his way to set me up, he already knew my story and totally identified with it. I was blown away!
I ordered a total of 8 boxes, at better pricing than my original supplier. I’m also making a list of other supplies we will order from this company from now on. That’s how you build loyalty, you help people and solve problems.
I personally delivered the units to Mr. Smith, I could see the relief in his face and felt the gratitude in his handshake.
But Mr. Smith also taught me a lesson that I think all caregivers should take notice of.
Here are a few tips that can make you a smarter caregiver:
Work to find solutions to your problems, not problems in the solutions. Mr. Smith patiently worked through this particular issue with us and together we got it done.
Build a human relationship with your provider and learn to leverage the professional help around you. Mr. Smith is always courteous and respectful of the nurses and case managers he came in contact with, and they learned to appreciate him as much as he appreciates them. In the process he learned how things work.
Never despair. Even though there were times when we were all frustrated, neither Mr. Smith nor We gave up.
Keep a positive attitude. As I said at the start, Mr. Smith attitude dictates his outcome and process, as with all things in life. I think he understands there are few things you control, but one’s attitude is definitely one you can.
No one takes a journey alone. Let’s learn from each other!
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Tour Guide — Hacking the Caregiver