Live in carer, problem with client's son, should I walk out?

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by Partner Paul, Oct 11, 2016.

  1. Partner Paul

    Partner Paul Registered User

    Oct 5, 2016
    It was difficult to think of a title for this thread, I'm not even the carer, but wanted to get the attention of people who may have gone through similar.

    I am the partner of a live-in carer (I live in as well), and a situation has developed where I can't see a way forward, it has the potential to emotionally wreck my partner, but she adores the lady she cares for, and knows the lady could end up in a home if she walks out, I know my partner would leave if I walked out, but it would break her heart, and could do serious damage to our relationship, please help.

    21 months ago we moved in with an amazing 90 year old lady (lets call her Mary), she has mid term Alzheimers, we both moved in as this was a permanent position, and keeping a separate (rented) home wasn't viable, I have my own work.

    Everything was brilliant for the first 20 months, then one of the Lady's sons (Dave) visited (all her family live abroad), all went well and he returned home, a few days later he telephoned and told my partner (we'll call her Julie) that some things were not acceptable, he started to list some minor things, but some just weren't true at all, if Julie tried to say anything he just raised his voice and said it was true, she was absolutely gobsmacked, he'd never shown this side of him, but some of the things were so obviously not true, she wondered what on earth he was up to, was he playing to an audience?.

    Even if all the things he said were true, we're only talking about a few adjustments that we'd be happy to make, and as I said to Julie, if that's all he could point out after 20 months, then she'd obviously doing a very good job, the lady and the rest of her family are very happy with everything.

    He went on to list some changes he felt were needed, and again, we're happy to go along with them all, but Julie wanted to discuss why this change might not gain any benefit, how that change could impact on the rest of Mary's day, but this wasn't a discussion, he said he was embarrassed to be with his mum, and that she'd lost all her pride.

    Julie was very upset, he left her feeling she was neglecting Mary and that she wasn't good for Mary, and that anything that went wrong (because of the changes) would be Julie's fault.

    She was worried that one of the changed was potentially dangerous, when she/we take Mary out, we use a wheelchair for longer distances, or she uses a stick and links onto one of our arms, but now he wanted Mary to use a 3 wheeled walker, Julie was concerned because we could only find the type where the default setting had the brake off, and Mary would need to remember to apply the break if she stumbled, and because she would no longer have physical contact, Julie might not be aware of the stumble for the first second, and this could lead to a fall, Julie wanted to find the type where the default had the break on, and see if Mary was more comfortable/safe with that type, but there was to be no discussion, and the walker needed to be purchased immediately.

    I told Julie that Dave was entitled to a bad day, and may not understand Alzheimers completely, or may find it difficult to see things from the carer's point of view, I suggested we put it behind us, and move on.

    We then went on a 2 week holiday, Mary's other children looked after Mary during this time, and were very happy with how she was, and didn't suggest any changes.

    A couple of days after our return we started exchanging emails with Dave, in these emails I asked if Julie could start having 4 weeks off per year, she'd had 2 in first year, 2 in 2nd, and a 2 day break, Dave didn't handle the request very well, and I know I shouldn't have mentioned it, but I told him that he'd spent 13 days here (always staying in hotels, half those days with his wife, though I didn't mention that), and hadn't once suggested he'd look after his mum so Julie could have a break.

    He telephoned me and it was impossible to get a word in, I'm not going into detail, but it's very difficult to imagine what it's like to be on the receiving end of such a call, I now understood why Julie was so upset, if he did let me speak, he'd just rubbish anything I said.

    Julie and I talked, then again the following morning, we'd planned our wedding and honeymoon when we were on holiday, but both realised that it would have to be postponed, it was obvious to me that this situation wasn't going to be easy to sort out, I asked her, if you left now, could you be happy with your decision?

    She said no, so we agreed to put it behind us, and talk again if anything else happened, Julie went to meet a friend to get this whole situation out of her head, and I took Mary out for a few hours, we met later then returned home, there was another email from Dave, it was shocking, extremely disrespectful and had us questioning how we go forward from here.

    It's now 8 days since the last email, we didn't respond, and there's been no more talk of annual leave.

    Julie is an amazing lady, she very bravely walked out of an abusive marriage 8 years ago, and has increasingly become a confident and very happy lady, but Dave has severely dented this, she now jumps when she hears the front door, tries to take Mary out whenever I go to work, and is worried about answering the phone.

    We struggle to see a way forward because we know 100% that Dave doesn't understand things from Julie's point of view, we also know 100% that as the Alzheimers progresses, there's be 100 things to disagree about, but we know that Dave won't listen, and will revert to his own style of conflict resolution.

    In short, it's a real disaster waiting to happen.

    The sad thing is, Mary is very very happy, and so are the rest of the family, so am I and so is Julie, Mary is 92 now and in fantastic condition all things considered, a few months after we moved in she was having full on hallucinations every week, she now hasn't had one for almost 3 months.

    We could discuss things with other members of the family, but Dave makes us feel that no matter what we do, we'll be doing the wrong thing, and I have serious concerns that even if Dave changed his attitude, it wouldn't be too long till he changed back again.

    Julie's pay is a lot less than a live-in carer usually gets, we though that I would be a negative in the whole equation (completely wrong), and we pay for half of all household shopping.

    Julie is convinced Dave will put Mary in a home if we leave, and as scared as she is of Dave, I think she couldn't leave, but I think Dave can damage Julie (mentally) and this could in turn impact on the care she gives Mary, especially as the Alzheimers advances and things get tougher.

    Can anyone suggest a way forward?

    I'm sorry the details are sketchy, I'm about 90% of the way through a much more detailed version (it's more than 20 pages already), but decided not to put it online, when I get to 10 posts, I'll send it in a private message to anyone who's interested.
  2. Beetroot

    Beetroot Registered User

    Aug 19, 2015
    The clue here is "he said he was embarrassed to be with his mum, and that she'd lost all her pride. Clearly, he doesn't understand what Azheimer's does to a person. He's losing his mum in the way we all lose our loved ones with dementia and he doesn't know what how to handle it. All he can do is make changes for just so he can feel he's done something about the situation. I have worked with people like that - they hide their own inadequacies behind a mask of criticising other people over whom they think they have power. Trying to appeal to his better nature is unlikely to work as he hasn't got one. The more you try to respond on the defensive, the harder he will have go at you. In short, he's a bully.

    I think what you do depends on his standing in this matter e.g. who engaged Julie to look after bully's mother? If it's not him and he doesn't have power of attorney and the other other members of the family are happy, then you put the problem onto them. Is there someone in the family with whom you could raise your concerns in the calm and rational way you have written here? Bear in mind, if Julie resigns, they are going to have to find someone else to care and good carers are very, very hard to find. Change is bad for Azheimer's patients. Dave may bully, but I feel you have the upper hand.
  3. BR_ANA

    BR_ANA Registered User

    Jun 27, 2012
    About walking. I would ask for an OT say what's better.

    Your OH gets lower paid than normal care. Your OH can't have some days to herself. Your OH feels she can't walk away for fear of lady being put in a CH.
    it seems that your OH needs to learn how to break an abusive relationship.

    Maybe she can ask her GP for conseuling.

    As I don't live on UK idk about employees laws.
  4. PeggySmith

    PeggySmith Registered User

    Apr 16, 2012
    "Julie is an amazing lady, she very bravely walked out of an abusive marriage 8 years ago, and has increasingly become a confident and very happy lady, but Dave has severely dented this" Speaking from personal experience, it took me years to be able to deal with bullying effectively so, in my opinion, Julie needs to be protected from Dave the bully.

    I agree with Beetroot that you need to approach the rest of the family and see if someone can act as an intermediary. In the meantime, I would simply refuse to have contact with him unless he can be polite. Having said that, I know I tend to be somewhat extreme and a softer approach may be more effective.

    Your experience with the walker sounds just like our experience with MIL's attempts to use one. On the advice of the community physios we used arm and stick or a wheelchair for longer walks.

    It's my understanding that Julie is entitled by law to 28 days a year leave and that has to be granted, CAB can help there - does she have a contract of employment?

    Sorry, would like to think (and write) more but have an appointment at 12. Do keep on posting, you'll get loads of sensible support on here.
  5. sue38

    sue38 Registered User

    Mar 6, 2007
    Wigan, Lancs
    Does Dave have an ulterior motive I wonder? You say that Julie is paid less than average, but with her pay and all the bills on the property plus food etc., the current arrangement may be working out more expensive than Mary being in a care home. Is money his motivation, rather than any real concerns about his mother?

    As others have pointed out if Julie is employed, by law she is entitled to holidays and to be enrolled in a pension scheme by 1st April 2017 at the latest.
  6. Tin

    Tin Registered User

    May 18, 2014
    I had a live in post like you late 1980-90. Long story very, very short, Most of family really behind me and appreciative of the things I did, however one son just really difficult to deal with and I suppose it was because he viewed my role in the house differently to the others. Any changes I made he saw as only benefitting me and that I needed to be given regular instructions. Endless telephone messages and lists being given to me and then he would go off to his own life and family.

    As hard as it was, I had to establish which member of the family I could turn to and discuss things. Only was responsible for my salary and household expenses so that was who I turned to, at the same time I also started keeping a daily diary describing anything we did and when and why changes were made, I also just noted down time and date of any phone calls I made to the family. This diary was kept in the kitchen so anyone could read it. This did not totally help when dealing with the difficult one, but it did stop some of the lists coming my way, instead they went to the one responsible for my salary and she decided what was important to discuss with me.

    At the end of the day, I knew that this post would not be long term given the age and illness, so I was determined to protect my reputation and the possibility of a reference for future employment in this field.

    I did not have the salary, holiday problems that your partner has-honestly I did not want to take a holiday, wrongly I believed I was irreplaceable?!

    If you can, find out what the 'pecking order' is in the family. You both have my understanding of your position, live in employees walk such a fine line, a bit grey, a bit wobbly, but a line nonetheless.
  7. arielsmelody

    arielsmelody Registered User

    Jul 16, 2015
    I'm sorry to hear you are both in such a difficult situation but I really don't think 20 pages detailing all the problems is going to help. You need to focus in on the important points, so I'd say you should file that away but don't share it with people.

    I think your partner needs to take a step back from the situation - she is obviously a very caring person, but she is a paid carer so in the end the person she cares for is not her family and she is the family's responsibility.

    I would say you should go to a solicitor and find out exactly what your partner is entitled to in terms of annual leave, daily breaks, minimum wage - it sounds as if she is probably being taken advantage of. Stop communicating with Dave, and let the rest of the family know that you are no longer prepared to talk to him unless he treats you with respect, and ask them who should be your contact.

    And your partner should start looking for a new position and a new place to live now. You need to have a plan for the future, because if the relationship with the family breaks down you could find yourselves in a bad situation.
  8. fizzie

    fizzie Registered User

    Jul 20, 2011
    I agree, who employed Julie, who holds Power of Attorney and who can you trust?
    Perhaps you could all have a skype conference if they live abroad.
    I also suspect he has an ulterior and ultimately very destructive motive.
    You do need to involve the rest of the familiy. These tactics are typical of a bully - divide and try to instil silence - not good. I would speak to the others as soon as you can and also regarding the tripod/three wheeler - don't do anything unsafe - tell them you will ask for a referral to an occupational therapist and if the professional says it is alright then you will go ahead but not unless - it is your duty to keep Mary safe and so you have to be strong on that one - very strong xx
  9. helpplan

    helpplan Registered User

    Oct 11, 2016

    I actually am a son who cares for my mother with dementia and have carers too.

    Rather than leaving the whole situation to chance concerning holidays I wonder what the contractual obligation is. Most jobs require empolyers to give 20 days annual leave plus bank holidays.

    It must be quite difficult with an absent son who may feel guilt and has the need to control a situation but I would advise courteous, professional behaviour and not getting too involved with matters outside the remit of the person being cared for. Maybe tactfully discuss the job role with the other family members so they are aware that you need holiday time and for them to take care of her whilst you have a much needed break. It can be exhausting emotionally and it is good to meet others where you are free to enjoy life.

    It appears from your post that you both do your utmost for Mary's quality of life and that is to be congratulated as this is more than just performing a job. So well done:):):)
  10. Partner Paul

    Partner Paul Registered User

    Oct 5, 2016
    His comments to Julie in first phone call were quite telling.

    Once we decided to put it behind us I got to thinking about the comments, I must admit I find it hard to comprehend how a person can't immediately understand the link between Alzheimers and loss of confidence/pride, he was also saying that Mary would 'look forward' to things (getting her nails done, foot massage, etc., although she was already having foot massages, and I used to cut her finger nails), I think he feels looking forward to those things will restore some kind of pride, when in reality, she doesn't 'look forward' to things in the same context as we do, I couldn't help but worry that his understanding of Alzheimers, or understanding of the timelines involved wasn't as much as he believed it was, I was actually concerned for him, there's always the chance that Mary may struggle to recognise him (or worse, think he's her husband) before long, and I worried he may get on with his life without attempting to spend extra time with his mum, and not realise till it's too late, I tried (in an email) in a subtle way to explain how Mary doesn't look more than 24 hours ahead, and only really associates events with her overriding memory of them (remembering a restaurant as loud, but nothing else).

    This is the problem, everything is done through Dave.

    Dave is a classic bully, and this may sound hard to believe, one that doesn't do it through bad language or shouting, yes, he raises his voice, then raises it again, but not shouting, his method is more by intimidation and belittlement, he kept describing my emails as essays and stories, kept accusing me of calling him an idiot, repeatedly asked the same questions and belittled any reply I give, accused me of trying to strike a secret deal with his sister, then within a minute accused me of trying to keep his sister in the dark by removing her from the email copy (he had done that), and then the classic bully trick, "you started this, this is what you've done".

    I mention these because, like any bully, he leaves your head spinning, and leaves you with a feeling that no matter what your next move, it will be wrong and you will be provoking him.

    I could talk to his sister, she fully understands Alzheimers (a retired nurse) and is easy to talk to, she also skype's every week, but I wonder how Dave will react, I also wonder what to say to the sister, but if we don't speak to her, the first she may know of how we feel is when we tell her we're leaving, and if the situation becomes bad enough for that, there'll be no turning back.

    I feel that talking to the sister is a bit like flipping a coin, it really could help the situation, or could bring it to a head if Dave reacts badly, a major concern is that I must go to India next month for 9 days, at the moment things seem to have calmed down (Dave feels he's put me/us in my place, you'd have to read the last email to understand this), so there's less chance of problems whilst Julie is alone with Mary, if we discuss things with the sister, there's a chance Dave could get a telling off from the sister, and try to be good, but could be seething inside, it just so happens that the sister will also be in a different part of India at the same time as me, so Julie may have to deal with Dave if there's a problem.
  11. 2jays

    2jays Registered User

    Jun 4, 2010
    West Midlands
  12. Beetroot

    Beetroot Registered User

    Aug 19, 2015
    From what you say, not only is he a bully, he's also manipulating what you say to justify his own appalling behaviour - you're on a hiding to nothing trying to engage rationally with someone like that. I think you need to talk to the sister, but if things are calm enough to leave it until you get back from India, do it then and just tell her what you've told us. But it sounds as if you should be making plans to go.
  13. Peirre

    Peirre Registered User

    Aug 26, 2015
    #13 Peirre, Oct 12, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2016
    Can the OP clarify who is Julie's employer?
    Is Julie self employed, billing the client directly, is the family of the PWD Julie's employer, or is Julie engaged to care for the PWD by a 3rd party agency? If it's the former (SE) then there is no legal right to holiday entitlement etc. If it's the latter then it's the agencies duty of care to deal with the bullying and issues arising from the son. If the family is Julie's employer, then she need to clarify which member of the family is dealing with her employment and paying her taxes etc to the inland revenue, establishing who this person is will setup the point of contact of who to approach with Julie's concerns.
    IF however Julie is working for cash in hand / accommodation etc that's a whole can of worms

    And sometimes it's not worth the hassle of suffering a family bully and getting no where, this is the time to walk away
  14. Partner Paul

    Partner Paul Registered User

    Oct 5, 2016
    She'd been managing really well, but her view of men was extremely poor when I met her, and she used to say ridiculous things like "your special" or "if only there were more like you" when I'm no different to the vast majority of men, so my thrust has always been to show her that normal men are good, and that normal men are in the absolute majority.

    A person can be controlled by bullying or by kindness, but they're still being controlled.

    With that in mind, Dave reminds her very much of her ex, it makes me want to get her away from him, but I just wish it could be her decision, everything in me tells me we should be leaving, and I could do that by walking out, but then I'm controlling her life, and that makes me no better than Dave.

    On a separate note, I've been reading a few threads over the past few days, this website is a lifesaver for many, some of the things members are going through are absolutely shocking, and really help me put things into perspective, we've always realised that we're so fortunate that it's not an immediate family member we're looking after, I honestly have no idea how I'd cope with some of the issues faced by many members on this forum, it has me feeling guilty for bringing such (comparatively) minor issues to the forum.
  15. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
    I dont actually think that this is a minor issue Paul.
    Also, if its concerning you then it is worth posting.
  16. Chemmy

    Chemmy Registered User

    Nov 7, 2011
    #16 Chemmy, Oct 12, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2016
    I can't help thinking that there are plenty of other 'Marys' out there who would welcome a conscientious live-in carer like Julie with open arms. No employee should put up with this level of hassle.

    So I would be tempted to call Dave's bluff and start looking for another position for yourselves ASAP. You run the risk that should this disagreement continue, you and Julie could find yourself jobless and homeless at very short notice.
  17. Registered User

    Jan 16, 2014
    This is a difficult one maybe he calls the shots over the rest of the family as he is trying to do with you and Julie so they step back because of his bullying character. I tried live in care for my dad his and our demands were very few but the second carer became abusive so she was hastily despatched. How I would have loved to have your lovely partner and you looking after my both sound so caring, kind and conscientious. This son clearly doesn't understand the illness or doesn't want to or his mother's needs. He is also taking advantage of you both re holiday etc, you shouldn't have to work in an environment where you can't raise important issues and good practice suggestions for this lovely vulnerable lady. I don't have any answers if he can't even have a rational conversation with you on any matter and the family choose to let him get on with it it's very hard to see what you can do. From what you say if you point out minimum wage, holidays etc it seems to me unlikely he will take much notice and change.As much as you like working with this lady and would hate to step away the arrangement to continue to work well for the lady and yourselves must be based on respect and understanding from all parties on a professional footing and it doesn't sound like the son as any of those qualities. From my experience of an inadequate live in carer there will be lots of other families who would be very grateful to have you caring for their pwd. Good luck
  18. Chemmy

    Chemmy Registered User

    Nov 7, 2011
    If Mary ends up in a CH, chances are she'll be fine. And you can bet your bottom dollar the management won't tolerate his attitude either.
  19. Partner Paul

    Partner Paul Registered User

    Oct 5, 2016
    Dave does care very much for his Mum, and I disagree with Julie and don't think he wants to put her in a home, Julie never used to think that until she got her phone call, because the call tone was so out of character (at the time), and because some of the things were so obviously not true, she was left wondering why, so when he responded to the request for more annual leave negatively, and said "Will also have to look at additional carers to come in if extra holiday time taken. Whether this proves as convenient in theory as in practise we would need to explore and possibly may have to look at a home if the changes were not workable.", she became convinced he wanted Mary in a home, personally, I thought his 'home' reference was a bullying attempt to get us to reduce the number of days off Julie wanted, his next line was "The crux is the amount of extra days"

    However, although I don't think Dave wants Mary in a home, if we leave, the total cost of new carers, agency fees and house running costs will be comparable to the cost of a home, so he'd have to consider the ease (from his perspective) of having his mum in a home against his Mum's desire to stay at home, the thought of his Mum having different carers coming on different weeks would likely persuade him in favour of the home.
  20. Partner Paul

    Partner Paul Registered User

    Oct 5, 2016
    #20 Partner Paul, Oct 13, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2016
    Thanks Tin, this helps us understand things from a different angle.

    We actually want input from the family, and ask after each visit if they can think of anything that could be done differently, but we would prefer any changes to be discussed, rather than ordered.

    I sometimes wonder if the reason we want input from the family, is the exact same reason that the input might be misguided, that's maybe the wrong word, let me explain.

    We would like input because the family have known Mary all their lives, know everything about her, and would notice any changes in her behaviour, but because the family all live abroad and don't see their mum as often as they'd like, any changes are all the more noticeable because of the time apart, for example, 3 visits ago Mary was zooming around in her car and just seemed a little forgetful, now she's spending 17/18 hours a day in bed, so it's quite understandable for the family to wonder if things could be different, and even to notice if Mary is trying to pull the wool over everybody's eyes and pretending to be more tired than she actually is, and if I was to be totally honest, I suspect we'd become a little complacent, we'd maybe given too much importance to her age and not to the overall benefits of being up and walking about, for example, we'd never take her out 3 days in a row, it always seemed too much for her, but I also worry that it could be difficult for the family to realise why she's changed so quickly, and want to see Mary up and out more, as she was only a couple of years ago.

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