Tuesday, 16 April 2019 09:26

When organising gets tough


Over the years I have been asked how I deal with certain situations at work.

“What do you do when an elderly client doesn’t want to move, but has to, due to circumstances?”

“How do you deal with a Senior who won’t let anything go?”

“Doesn’t it take longer when working with Seniors?”

With that in mind, I thought you might find it interesting to work through a project with me, so here goes:

This is about a lovely client I worked with just over a year ago. I still pop in and have tea with her on a regular basis.

Overview of situation:

  • My Client:
    • A lady in her late 80’s who moved to a retirement apartment because her family were worried about her. She didn’t want to move.
    • At our first meeting I was told me in no uncertain terms, that we were not throwing anything away.
  • My Brief:
    • My client had lived in her home for 45 years.
    • We would have to sort out, declutter and let go of a lot of stuff.
    • We had six weeks to get it done.

Challenges encountered:

  • The biggest challenge was earning trust, by not making any decisions without consulting with her first.
  • We always had to start with sitting down to tea, which took a while.
  • It was difficult to maintain focus on a particular task and we were always digressing with stories!
  • My client was still concerned every week that I was going to take things without her consent

How I dealt with the situation:

  • I spent the first session just chatting, drinking teas and looking at photos. Then asked if I could come back! She said yes!
  • We had tea every time I saw her, but agreed it would be ready when I got there – saved half an hour each time.
  • At the end of each session I left a pile of photos that she tackled on her own. We chatted quickly about them over tea and then moved on.
  • I started where she was happiest to start. It was not really logical, but it worked well.
  • We only worked for 2 – 3 hours at a session.
  • I wrote down everything she agreed to donate or sell or give away to family. I sent that list to her family as well.

Lessons I learnt:

  • It is so important to take time with the elderly. Give them the respect they are due.
  • Do not rush things. Be prepared to go a lot slower than with younger people!
  • Although it is usually a family member who is the client in this kind of case, it is so important to treat your Senior as the client. Written or verbal (preferably both) feedback should be given to both parties after every session, along with the list of items removed.
  • We can learn so much from listening!! Listen, listen, listen and listen some more!

Did I mention, I still visit, and we sit down to tea every time!

I love my job!

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Telephone: +27 (0)82 926 3531
Email: judith@allsortednow.co.za