הבלוג של הסבתא / general info / Abused by the Caregiver?! Why?!

Abused by the Caregiver?! Why?!

Abused by the Caregiver?! Why?!

Recently, several cases of abuse by caregivers to their patient are shown on television. I am expecting that more will come up as employers get scared and install cameras. But so many are ignorant on what is going on inside the house between the caregiver and employer and only see what they want to see. There's no excuse for any type of violence, but this is a good chance to discuss the relationship between caregiver-patient-family. Knowing the risk of discovery, the memory of the high cost in coming to Israel, the loss of income when deported due to discovery, a foreign caregiver will go to any length to preserve his working visa until he feels it’s enough and time to go back to his country.

I speak to give a small peep on our situation as foreign caregivers. Most of us are expected to be superheroes, tackling alone the daily problem of an aging person with little to no help from the patient’s immediate family who say “we pay you, it’s your job” as if caregiving is a pizza delivery job. Caregiving is physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting especially in hospice care. Inside the house, the relationship can be affected by the patient’ behavior: e.g. sexual innuendo of a male patient to a female caregiver (I myself saw how an old man, physically incapacitated but with good mental capabilities just grope his caregiver’s ass and the caregiver slap his hand away), the psychological effect when employers treat the caregiver as an inferior person thus abusing the caregivers basic needs like food, miserable working conditions…etc. A good caregiving relationship hinges on the good rapport between the caregiver, the patient and the patient’s family.

I say blessed are those caregivers who have the support of the patient’s family. Caregivers are human too. We need support from the patient’s family or from other resources like the caregiver’s own family. What happens when both sources are dry? Caregivers are not unfeeling machines. We feel resentment, anger and frustrations when we got no back-up support or incentives for the daily grind of dealing with an aging difficult person, more when the sources of support instead add more burden to the poor caregiver. Whom does the caregiver express these feeling when it spills? The patient got the brunt due to the constant proximity.

You tell me “Why are you complaining? Leave if you are not satisfied” I am not complaining, merely pointing out that we need support to make our services as caregivers a satisfactory one to avoid the negative side effects.

Below are scenarios that I have written to better understand the situation of caregivers. I am writing this as a caregiver myself, based on my experiences and from friends personal accounts of their own jobs. So pardon me if I am mistaken on my assumptions and please correct me for the mistake.

  1. By law, a foreign caregiver can stay up to 4 years and 3 months in Israel.
    Pro: A foreign caregiver can change employers within these 51 months subject to the newly released law of giving notice of resignation. The employer can also renew the working permit of the caregiver even after the designated 51 months, subject to the employer’s approval.
    Con: A caregiver has very limited to no choice after 51 months. A foreign caregiver cannot change employers after 51 months and is almost at the mercy of the employer.
    Example: “Take it or leave it”. Unscrupulous employers can take advantage of the situation by not paying the required legal amount of salary, add other duties that are not part of the job or by simply terrorizing the poor caregiver for not doing whatever the employer wants. The foreign caregiver, in desperate need of money, has a choice of less salary or no salary at all, do the extra job or get sack and end up as illegal and worse get deported.

  2. Day Off.
    Under Israeli Laws, the length of the rest day is 36 hours According to article 7 of the HOURS OF WORK AND REST LAW, 5711-1951, an employee’s weekly rest shall be no less than 36 (thirty-six) consecutive hours in a week. The weekly rest shall include (in the case of a non-Jew) the Sabbath day or Sunday or Friday, whichever is ordinarily observed by him as his weekly day of rest.
    Fact: The day off last only for 24 hours, not 36 consecutive hours. (I haven’t met yet a caregiver who has a day-off of 36 hours.) The other 12 hours are spread for the week. Two hours rest a day supposed to be but this is on a case to case basis. It depends on the employer’s physical and mental situation of the patient. (e.g. An employer with Alzheimer or progressive dementia doesn’t know what is the time of the day. They can demand to go out in the middle of the night or middle of a hot summer day. A sample of a worst case scenario is when they demand every few minutes to go to the toilet and an adult diaper is not an option! You might end up with a clogged toilet. One toilet in the house and it’s Shabbath. :( Jeez

  3. Number of working hours.
    Pro: Under Israeli Laws, 9 working hours daily in a 5 day work week or 8 hours in a 6 day work week.
    Fact: The above law works for live out caregivers but live-in caregivers stay for 24 hours in the employer’s home and are prone to be on the beck and call of the patient. It’s again on a case to case basis depending on the mental and physical health of the patient. In situations like I mentioned in number 2, there is no distinction when is the job finished for the day. In other cases, there are employers who are just petty and worked their caregivers like machines. These cases are usually experienced by caregivers who are more than 51 months, cannot change job and has no other choice.

  4. Overtime pay.
    According to the law, for the first two hours of overtime each day, payment is 125% of the regular hourly wage; for each additional hour, the rate is 150% of the regular hourly wage. Live-in caregivers are not entitled to overtime pay; however, their minimum wage is 30% higher than the regular minimum wage.
    Fact: As far as I know, live in and live out shares the same minimum salary. For live-in caregivers, in some cases, when the caregiver has to care for the patient in the hospital for 24 hours then if the employer has a conscience, he will pay extra compensation.

  5. Relievers for weekends or for caregivers who go on vacation.
    Relievers are the one who temporarily give relief to a caregiver whose employer/patient has no mental/physical capability to be alone.
    Pro: By Law Caregivers are entitled to 150% pay if they worked during the weekend for their employer in lieu of a day off. On one hand, caregivers who are free during the weekend cannot go and legally work for another employer even temporarily. This prevents employers from abusing the caregivers like working for several employers with the same pay.
    Con: Foreign caregivers are not legally allowed to temporarily work for another employer thus preventing them from working as relievers.
    Fact: Legal relievers are not abundant and so illegal relievers work under the radar. Israelis who works as caregivers/relievers for straight 24 hours are more expensive than the foreign caregiver and they are not that many, even rare to find an Israeli willing to stay for 24 hours. So if the family members of the patient are unwilling to come and relieve the caregiver, find a reliever. Like i said, Israeli relievers or foreigners with unrestricted visa are hard to find so the last resort is to get another foreign worker, even if its illegal or NO RELIEF at all.

A reliever can either be Israeli or another foreign worker, it doesn’t really matter when you are badly in need of relief from the stress of the job if the situation is like in Number 2. I have personally experienced paying more for the foreign caregiver/reliever because since its illegal, relievers demand more than the usual pay and are choosy on the kind of job they accept because of the danger of being reported to the immigration. I shouldered the extra cost, my employer was not willing to pay for it. That’s how far a caregiver can go just for a few hours of reprieve.

I know there are no perfect employer, perfect caregiver, perfect laws etch... But in caregiving, it only needs a give and take relationship between the parties involved to keep the balance. Employers cannot demand something from the caregivers which they themselves cannot give.

I rest my case.

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