The Challenge for Care Business Owners: “Managing the Damaged Person”

Sound thinking direct care staff make an owner’s job so much easier to manage

This blog has long been used to voice support for direct care staff.  They are indeed the front-line soldiers who can make the world go round in care.  They provide security and a feeling of support for assisted living residents, home care clients and adult day health care program participants.

At hiring we ask them the right questions to verify their skill level or perhaps even their motives for wanting to work in care.  What we may not be paying attention to – and we should – is what kind of employer have they worked for in the past and what kind of relationship existed between that employer and the applicant.  Sometimes when we recruit a person for employment in direct care who came from an abusive or irresponsibly managed employment situation, they could bring an unhealthy level of distrust, suspicion and a “guard up” disposition to your care environment.  In reality all of us can be adversely affected by negative relationships.  Sometimes the impact could last for the remainder of our lives and cause even more harm unless we work to gain control of our thinking.  Bad habits created in response to that previous poor treatment could find its way into your workplace, leading to nothing positive.

A discerning employer has to balance the need to provide a listening ear to staff with the need to keep that staff from adversely affecting the work environment for others. One corrupting influence could ruin it all.

While we have to be careful becoming improperly absorbed in someone’s personal issues – which could cut into needed professional barriers – at no time should we become insensitive to the psychological needs of those we employ.  After all, all of us have some issue or another and can benefit from the genuine concern of others.

At the same time we have an obligation to create the most functional work environment that we possibly can.  To that end we have to be careful not to sully it with distrustful staff whose insecurities tied to previous employment stand in the way of their ability to contribute to the environment you seek to create.  They may also have a hard time respecting and cooperating with supervision no matter how well-meaning they may be.   An ongoing pattern of insubordination or lack of respect for company leadership can quickly erode the care environment.

Of course there may be other underlying issues.

A person harboring bitterness associated with the actions of a previous employer in care might be a distrustful time bomb who can negatively impact the positive care environment you are seeking to maintain. One relatively minor issue could throw their mind to flashbacks and send them off the deep-end.

Some staff when questioned about why they stayed so long in a previous, counter-productive, borderline abusive work environment will comment that they are loyal, when in reality loyalty is not what they displayed.  Whether they were too insecure to pursue better opportunities, were intimidated by a domineering past employer who offered false friendship or just too lazy to seek a better situation, it all spells something more serious.  It could be reflective of a life and thinking of a person with deep-seated issues that may or may not complement your work environment very well.  A lack of self-value can lead to more damaging behavior in the care business.

Of course, as aforementioned, there is no perfection among any of us so the tendency to be overly judgmental must be guarded against.  Let’s just make sure that we properly address the challenge of managing a damaged person.  Both the care business environment and the damaged person deserve fair treatment and proper attention or those we are called upon to care for could suffer the most.

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PIC - MANUAL COVERS 2012 2More on success in group living can be found in the Complete Guide to Developing and Operating Group Living Programs including special tips on managing people, located at   Photos used are for communicative affect only and may belong to their respective licensees. They must never be received as an indication of the support or endorsement of or by or affiliation with any individual or organization.  Photos are also not meant to disparage any race, gender, faith, ethnicity or sexual orientation.  The photos used are for the sole purpose of complementing the subject matter written.

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