Social worker sees rise in concerns

Age Care Waitaki social worker (left) Sharon McGregor and co-ordinator Kathryn Bennett are...
Age Care Waitaki social worker (left) Sharon McGregor and co-ordinator Kathryn Bennett are enjoying the new office space in Eden St and are in the planning stage for their new drop-in centre for April. PHOTO: JULES CHIN
Age Concern Otago has some important safety tips for older people regarding caregiver services.

Age Concern Otago is recognised locally as a not-for-profit community organisation that celebrates and advances the dignity, respect and wellbeing of Otago’s older people.

Age Concern Waitaki social worker Sharon McGregor is in her fourth year with the organisation.

She had seen a rise in concerns about caregiving services and the overstepping of professional boundaries.

Many older people/kaumatua and disabled people had caregivers come into their homes to care for them.

"These caregivers provide an amazing service for older people and enable kaumatua to age in their own homes in a safe manner.

In rural areas, there was a limited number of caregivers and often the same person could provide for an elderly person for several years.

"I know some people who have had the same caregiver for 10 years.

"I also know that kaumatua are so grateful for the care they receive and look forward to caregivers coming into their home."

However, Mrs McGregor said in these situations, professional boundaries could become blurred, and caregivers could take on the role of friends.

"While it is understandable that clients and caregivers can become close over time, it is very important for the safety of both parties that caregivers do not handle their clients money or financial affairs.

"This puts caregivers in a precarious position where allegations could be made, " she said.

"If you are an elderly person receiving care services, please do not offer caregivers, or loan them, money.

"Similarly, under no circumstances should a caregiver ever ask an elderly person for money.

"If this happens it should be reported to the manager of the service involved immediately."

Mrs McGregor said it was also not appropriate for caregivers to hold enduring power of attorney for a client, while being paid to care for them.

"This is a very clear conflict of interest," she said.

"If someone you are not being paid to care for asks you to act as their attorney, be aware that this is a significant responsibility and you must consult with the person to the best of their ability and act in their best interests.

"It is a legal requirement that records of all financial transactions are kept as they can be requested by the court.

"Enduring power of attorney can also be challenged in the family court."

Although, the vast majority of caregivers, whether voluntary or paid, provided care in an appropriate manner, if anyone had concerns about the way an older person was being treated, Mrs McGregor encouraged people to reach out at Age Concern Waitaki on (03)434-7008 or at