A few days ago, I attended a meeting that was hosted by the tourism and development corporation and the SBA. All of the attendees were ask to introduce themselves and talk a little bit about their business. I got to learn about all sort of great business ventures. From technology to home health care there were a gamut of great business ideas
During the lunch break I was a approached by the president of the local Chamber of Commerce, with a question about my business. She wanted to know how do I manage clients who need decluttering services but don’t like people to see their messy home and judge them. We all feel a little uneasy about having someone or a perfect stranger come into our homes looking around. She went on to say that before she would even think about having someone come to her home she would have to clean up. How many of us have felt like that?
I shared with her a story about a client of mines who was faced with the same dilemma.
A client of mines was in desperate need of help in his home. He was a middle age man who’d been taking care of his mother who was ill with Alzheimer. He too was sick and limited in his ability to keep up with the maintenance on the house.
When I first met his mother she was sitting on her porch in a house dress in her rocking chair drinking coffee. I politely spoke and she did not reply. The look in her eyes told me she was not comfortable with having a stranger in their home especially looking around. Her son who was in the house at the time came outside as he heard my voice and replied “she doesn’t speak English”. He then invited me into the house -with hesitation- after he and I exchanged hellos.
As we were entering the house I could see that they had, a lot of old items that meant a lot to them. It just needed to be organized.
While there I met and talk with the caregiver. She shared with me her story of how long she’s worked for the family, and the limitations in her work schedule (5 days a week for 4 hours a day). In addition, she helped with daily hygiene, cooking, shopping, and light housekeeping. As I looked around, I got a sense of the awkwardness that the client was feeling about the condition of the house. He would later on share with me that they’d lived that way for over 30 years.
There was a lot to be done and he knew it. Purging and letting go of memories is always hard to do. Since being in this business I have learned, the best way to handle a situation like this is to
- Don’t judge. Everyone has a story whatever it is.
- Listen. The fact that someone is reaching out for help says a lot for that person.
- Be kind, understand that we all come from somewhere, and we’ve all faced a challenge in our lives where we did the best we could with what we had.
- Be encouraging, nothing eases the tension of someone who is feeling a little embarrassed than someone who comes along and encourages them in their decision.
- Smile. It breaks through many barriers.
After the inspection we sat and talk about what he needed help with, and how overwhelming it could be caring for his mother and himself because of his heart trouble. Quietly I listen to his stories about his father-who died a few years earlier-and his brother who live in Florida. He too was sick with cancer.
In turn, I shared a few stories about my former years working in a nursing home with Alzheimer patients. And how his feelings were normal. However, Although it’s OK to feel overwhelmed from time to time, but not all the time. Relieved to know, that someone understood he was able to relax.
What I like about being a concierge, is knowing that my clients are at peace when I leave the site. Not only in a physical sense but also in an emotional as well. To know that someone can and will help, without any judgment is such a stress reliever.