Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Just Take the Present and Run!

Accepting Christmas Gifts from Elderly Clients

Christmas is a festively frantic funny ole time of the year and as soon as December hits, a lot of my elderly clients can feel so filled-to-the-brim with the festive spirit (perhaps a little too full in the case of a couple of them…hic!) that they just have to show it.

And when older people, some of them with a good eighty-plus traditional gift-giving seasons under their belt, want to share this warm fuzzy joyful glow, it means they want to give you as their trusted carer – PRESENTS!

So as long as these thoughtful glad tidings have minimal monetary value and are merely a token of their gratitude to you for the compassion and outstanding support you’ve shown them throughout the year... then who are we to refuse?

Elderly people Cht=ristmas Presents
Your typical Christmas loot - merely a days worth, this lot
(minus the ones that were polished off in the car...!)

I should probably pause right about now though and throw some impressive big words in the mix such as Ethics, Professional Boundaries, Company Protocol and the like.  And add that officially it depends on your employer’s Gifts Policy (I kid you not) whether or not you can accept the cheap box of minted wafers or the simple tin of buttered shortbread from one's client who just feels so absolutely thrilled to bits to be able to offer it to you in the first place.

Well I’m sorry, but the world has most certainly lost all reason and gone stark raving PC mad!

The sad fact of the matter being that there are Aged-Carers among us, efficient and caring they may be... but it could be suggested that theyve' become so bound up in procedure and guidelines and BEING RIGHT all the time, that they've lost sight of the big caring Christmassy picture!

You know?

So much so, that they are willing to offend dear old Mrs Sugarplum by declining the humble pre-boxed, pre-wrapped supermarket-brand mini Christmas cake that she bought on special (five for $10 at Woollies) in order to have on hand to pass out to each of her various carers as they front up for duty over the Silly Season.  Instead, she's informed (with double efficiency) that although the gesture is appreciated, carer's are not permitted to accept gifts from their clients as it is against company policy.

"But it's Christmas!" replies the bewildered Mrs Sugarplum

Doesn't matter.  The carer wont budge.  I've seen it all before.

And while the carer trots off feeling all righteous and that their Client-Carer professional boundaries are still securely in place, the client who only considered her meagre offering as a sweet act of reciprocation... is instead left feeling hurt, possibly embarrassed and worse still - that she's done something wrong?

It hasn't once crossed Mrs Sugarplum's mind that by giving this small token of her apreciation that it might encourage her carer, to perform extra duties or that preferential treatment would be on offer next time when the carer visited.

For goodness sake... you already CARE!  How is a box of turkish delights going to make you care any harder?

In fact, it's almost an act of not caring if you DON'T accept it!!

Old people love to give gifts
How can FUN STICKS be a bad thing?

Now just to be clear, I'm not saying that carers are entitled to just take, take, TAKE.

Social etiquette and commonsense dictates that you should at least go through the "Oh no, I couldn't" routine and that they shouldn't have"... and that they don't have to give you something just because it's Christmas because after all it IS your job and you ARE getting paid to be there.

I'm telling you now: they will insist... you will accept (eventually)... and both of you will be left feeling gratified, valued and maybe even a little, dare I say it... JOLLY?

So this Christmas when the seasonal prezzies from your doting elderly clients come rolling in (and you can bet your jingly bells they will), for starters be pleased that they think enough of you to want to give you something to begin with.  Then as you blatantly poo-poo your employer's close-minded rules by accepting the nice gift or a cute chrissy card (sometimes containing a very touching hand-written sentiment - so make sure you check)...smile as you look your client in the eye, express a good dollop of genuine thanks - and feel guilt-free as your waist band expands even further from all the goodies you're about to gorge!

As a side note, I have to admit that I've found some of these contraband treats very much come in handy for one's own 're-gifting' purposes... and don't try and tell me you hadn't thought of it!  

In particluar, those icky licorice allsort wotsits that I seem to get a lot of - my great-aunt Becky will be the lucky winner there!

And anyway, news flash people...guess where your seemingly generous client got that lovely box of chockies from (with an expiry date of June 1982) in the first place!!

Merry Christmas, Fatties.




  1. The joy of giving is still alive and well. For years your "oldies" scrimped and saved to give their children and grandchildren a present they would love at Christmas. All they are doing now is trying to replicate that joy with someone who cares - their carer. Its simple - nobody has the right for any reason to deny them the joy of giving. - Chrissy

  2. I can understand that it may hurt client feelings by not accepting their gifts but the alternative is surely a blatant disregard of your employer’s regulations. Whether you agree or not the rules are in place for a reason----to prevent the boundaries between client and the so-called ‘professional’ carer becoming blurred. Accepting gifts is unethical and cannot help but alter the balance of the relationship which in turn could lead onto further complications down the track. First it’s chocolates-----next thing it is cash or family heirlooms such as jewelry. Where do you draw the line??!!? It is your client who ultimately will be penalized if you lost your job over an indiscretion that basically boils down to sheer self-gain on the carer’s behalf. K.D.