The Caregiver Search Continues...

As of late, I feel like the Caregiver Search Crisis has reached a new low and I continue to wrap my brain around a system that seems so broken. In my continued ultimate quest to employ appropriate healthcare providers, my expectations continue to sink. These stories are mind-blowing.

EB on the beach

My last three candidates are worth a discussion. A few weeks ago, I placed my monthly ad that brought in all sorts of interesting potential candidates. One nearby woman passed the phone and in-person interviews, prompting moving forward with a shadowing opportunity with a seasoned current staff member which she also passed. Employment paperwork was provided, and she was on her way to being officially hired. Until her first day of work when the candidate arrived 40 minutes late claiming oversleeping her alarm, but more disturbingly appeared to be high on substances at 8 AM. She was immediately excused and notified employment would not continue. First scratch off the list.

The next candidate was discovered through Next-Door: an online community website providing local resources within my neighborhood. Arriving at the interview donning a ball cap apologizing about her day before vampire facial, this candidate sat on my back deck and proceeded to belt out Etta James’ "At Last” so loud my neighbors across the street wondered if they were being serenaded. This bizarre moment historically would have made me check her off the list, but I allowed a shadow opportunity that evening with a current staff member hoping the bizarro moment was temporary. Unfortunately, I was wrong. As I lay in my bed at 10 PM, I overheard my candidate and current staff member arguing in my clothing closet about various topics, including conspiracy theories and inappropriate comments, during the session. Nevertheless, she was excused to go on her merry way to seek out and serenade another potential client, just not me. Second scratch off the list.

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My last and final candidate casually mentioned she had a firearm in her purse on the regular as she owns a concealed weapon permit. Not that I was concerned for my safety as this is legal in Colorado, but it seemed inappropriate to be brought into someone's home for a 30-minute caregiver interview. Looking the other way once again, I allow her to shadow later that week. Everything goes swimmingly during her shadow until 15 minutes before exit, the candidate nonchalantly mentions she probably won't pass the background check due to a felony, for theft. My heart sinks as I realize yet another one bites the dust, for a theft felony is considered a barrier crime and does not allow employment. Final scratch off the list and back to square one.

So many of my friends and family continue to tell me I need to write a book about all the interesting characters that I encounter during these employment searches, and if I had more time in the day I probably would. As much as we can laugh about the craziness of these stories, the more important message is the undying truth of the Caregiver Crisis that continues to deeply affect individuals such as myself trying to receive the most basic care for activities of daily life. This reality merits continued serious discussions and legitimate action forward on how we as a community can bolster our internal healthcare system with proper caregiver training programs, search engines and improved access to individuals that are legitimately dedicating their professional life to helping individuals such as myself.

About the Author - Elizabeth Forst

Elizabeth Forst is a nomad Yogi, world traveler and spinal cord injury survivor. Enjoying the mountain life in Denver, Colorado, she is a doctor of physical therapy with roots based both in Western medicine and the Eastern traditions; understanding the connection between mind, body, and spirit is her ultimate life pursuit. Through her writing and advocacy efforts locally and nationally, she is a beacon of light and a source of positive exploration for others traversing the challenges of paralysis.

Elizabeth Forst

The opinions expressed in these blogs are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $10,000,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.