A friend at work came into my office recently, and was very angry.  Her elderly mother, who lives in a warden-controlled flat, had been assigned a male carer.  Her mother was aghast and quite distressed that he had taken off her clothes and washed her.  I’m not sure whether he had asked her permission first, but surely anybody working for a care agency would have asked their client whether they agreed to them performing personal care before going ahead?

My own mother in her final years had a male carer.  However, she would not let him do any personal care.  He had been assigned 45 minutes early mornings to help her out of bed and help her to wash and dress herself, but all she would let him do was prepare her breakfast and wash up the dishes.  She preferred to struggle and take 2 full hours to wash herself rather than have Chris do it, or wait until I visited a couple of hours later.

I told her that Chris was just doing his job and was paid to wash and dress her, but Mum was having none of it.  It was only in her last few months when personal care became impossible, that she would let him wash her.

My friend’s mother complained bitterly to the care agency that sending a male carer to wash her was akin to assault.

Is she correct?  The carer was only doing his job, and had obviously been rigorously checked before being employed.  I have had male nurses care for me when bed-bound after operations, and they were kindness itself.  It would never have occurred to me to send them away.

However, I suppose if I was an elderly and vulnerable woman living on her own, I might have a different viewpoint.  But it seems a shame that male carers cannot carry out their work properly without their clients complaining, even though they have not done anything wrong.

What do you think?