Working Together

"We shape our self
to fit this world

and by the world
are shaped again..."

Excerpt from "Working Together" © David Whyte
in The House of Belonging

Many Rivers Press

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Journey Continues: On Age and Employment

It has been two years and three months since I declined the option given and walked away from a position at the library at the University as a layoff.  It has been an interesting if sobering tale of recovery from that unexpected event.  I had just turned 58 and I stepped into a rather mean situation for a person my age. There was a mixture of trepidation and hope initially because, while I knew that leaving was absolutely necessary, I really had no idea what I was going to do to make a living.  I went through several stages of "job loss" trauma that would do the Kubler-Ross model proud.  At each juncture I made decisions that I had hoped would move me forward into a satisfying work that I could do for the next twenty years. Volunteering was the plan for 60. Now I must do work and get paid to survive.  If I am fortunate, it will be satisfying work.

Since Hospice, the elderly and infirm are my areas of interest,  I went into care-giving   For a year and a half  I worked with a developmentally disabled client and a group of clients who struggle with HIV/Aids on a daily basis.  These organizations trained me and assisted me in laying the ground work for a more focused area of expertise in end-of-life navigation and palliative care.

At this juncture I am trying to work through the maze of paperwork and State regulations that will allow me to be an Independent Provider for the State of Washington. It is all very volatile, expensive and anxiety producing as each agency seems to try and out do the other to protect the clients, the caregivers and themselves from every known and imagined contingency that might lead to litigation and a subsequent loss of revenue.  It is ugly to be dealing with so many layers of policies designed by fear.  I can only imagine the amount of really great caregivers that are out there that cannot do the work simply because they cannot navigate the incredible amount of red tape required to get started. If it wasn't for the gift of support I received, I would be dead in the water at this point for all the confusion, acting out and lack of professionalism I've experienced in the last 5 weeks. There is no "cutting to the chase" with government  because, as you are probably well aware, if you rub an agent or a clerk the wrong way your paperwork could well "accidentally-on-purpose"  fall down behind a filing cabinet somewhere.  It is a test of patience and diplomacy, to be sure.

It is easier by far to become certifiably insane than to navigate this horrendously convoluted process. For instance, the following is a typical trajectory to becoming certified as a Home Care Aide:  One must pay $60.00 to apply to the State for certification and be denied to get an important number that one needs for the application to take the classes required to get the proper training and be accepted. Then one takes that number again and requests to take a test on the training to be scheduled BEFORE any classes are even taken. The exam fee is $115.00. Once the 2 weeks of classes are taken, one must send all the passing information back to the original Department that denied the candidate in the beginning. All of this must be done in this order so the caregiver can become certified by the State...and it all must be done within 120 days from the date of hire while working.  The classes, absurdly, are only offered in the daytime when a person is likely to be scheduled to work.  I've had my doubts about getting involved in all of this. The red flags I saw in the beginning at orientation have morphed into red tape yet I'm determined to deal with whatever is thrown my way as I can. I'm committed by the encouragement and support and heartened by others who swear it is a great profession once one is settled in. I hope they are right. Frankly, it has crossed my mind more than once that instead this might be a good time to cultivate that drinking problem I've been putting off...

Home Health Care is actually a very satisfying, natural and needed activity for the aging as long as there is not a lot of heavy lifting to be done.  Clients that are my age or older openly display relief to see a female of my age at the door.  A younger person is not the preference in most cases.  Many of the chronically ill are quite lucid.  A debilitating condition and need for personal care is not confined only to comatose individuals.  I know I wouldn't be as comfortable being handled by a caregiver my grandchild's age as I would a more mature person should I find myself in such straights. When I can get through all the red tape that the government requires, I'm confident I will be able to provide a valuable service to my clients and community.  I will never make a bundle of money doing this, of course, but if I can ease someone's discomfort in their time of need while keeping a roof over my head, that is payment enough.  There is a joy in that for me.


Sharp said...

Dear Cile, You have chosen a noble and compassionate road forward. There are so few really dedicated aides. Most aides,that I have, met are rimmed by self interest. I took care of a bedridden grandma for 6 years and now my dad for 17 years, I have had plenty of experience with the circular non logic of the industry agencies, including governmental. Once you get through the beginning caca, I am sure that you and especially your clients will be blessed with the good karma that comes from caring and assistance of our fellows. Keep up the good dreams! :-D

Molly said...

I wish you the best of luck, Cile. Your dedication and genuine compassion are inspiring. It is maddening to see the mountains of paperwork and the bureaucracy involved with becoming a caregiver, let a lone a home-care provider. When I worked as a receptionist at a home for those with dementia and memory-specific disorders, I was continually astonished at the vast amount of paperwork the State required for our caregivers. I'm happy you are fighting through it!

marciamayo said...

Oh Cile, who better than you to survive the process and then become the full-fledged version of the angel you already are? And then to write about it too?