Making Sure Things are “Just So”

Making Sure Things are Just So, Angela Brown, Savvy Cleaner
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What does making sure things are "just so" mean when house cleaning for elderly clients? Everything about the job changes when you're cleaning for an eldercare homeowner.

What does making sure things are “just so” mean when house cleaning for elderly clients? Everything about the job changes when you’re cleaning for an eldercare homeowner.

But what does “just so” look like for business owners and house cleaners checking in on older clients?

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Hey there, I’m Angela Brown, and this is Ask a House Cleaner. This is a show where you get to ask a house cleaning question, and I get to help you find an answer. You can find this and 400 other answered questions in this series on our YouTube channel.

What Does Making Sure Things are Just So Mean?

Making Sure Things are Just So, Person Looks on While House Cleaner Wipes TableWhat does it mean making sure things are just so? There is a term in the house cleaning industry called making sure things are just so. What does that mean? Well, what it means is this, it pertains specifically to our elder clients who are at home and don’t often have anywhere to go. So, when you get to their house, they’re usually there.  You want to make sure their house is just so.  That they’re comfortable and their home is a place where they can live and carry on as long as they can independently.

Now, when you get to their house, they’re going to want to chat because they haven’t seen anyone in a couple of days and they’re happy that you’re there.  And most house cleaning companies, if it’s not a full-time caregiver, you will be coming once a week or once every other week.

House Cleaners Have Eyes on the Customer

Making Sure Things are Just So, Woman Reads While House Cleaner Wipes TableAnd so, you are eyes on the customer and what that means for you as business owners and as house cleaners is that you are going to snoop just a little bit on elderly customers. And I don’t mean snoop like, let’s get into their stuff when they’re not looking.  It means that you’re going to look around a little bit more detailed than a regular customer.

I say a regular customer, like a house that has young toddlers or things like that because their house will be just so, but in a different way.

So, for the most part, when you do a maintenance clean on a house, you don’t open things like the dishwasher. That’s not part of the job that you do during a maintenance clean, that’s part of the daily chores that the homeowner does. But when you are checking on an elder care homeowner, you might make sure things are just so. You might open the dishwasher and make sure that there’s no food that needs to go in the refrigerator. 

Change Things if They Aren’t How They Normally are

Making Sure Things are Just So, DishwasherAnd so if there are things that you start to see that are not quite the way that they normally are or the way that you kind of expect them to be, you want to pay attention and make a note of that and alert the boss because there may be other things going on.

And when you are inside their home, sometimes you are the only eyes on that person for a period of time. So, for example, if you get to their house and you find milk in the cupboard, and I’m not saying go through all the cupboards, it’s not your business.

But if you go to put something away and you open the cupboard and there’s a gallon of milk in there or a half a gallon of milk or something like that. Then you need to make a note of that, put that back in the fridge, and then alert someone.

House Cleaners Need to Look for Cognitive Slipping Issues

Making Sure Things are Just So, Confused ManYou need to let know someone know that “Hey, there might be cognitive slipping issues.” If you get to a customer’s house and it’s summertime, and the customer is wearing four pairs of clothing and two of them are inside out, you need to alert someone. You need to let them know that, “Hey, this person is wearing all their clothes at one time.  I’m worried as it could get hot outside in the afternoon heat, and if they were to wander outside while they have all these many layers of clothes on, they could get really hot.”

So, there are things that you’re looking for not to judge our clients, but to be there, to be of assistance in the event that they in fact need your help. And so, one of the things, and this is a question that I get asked a lot is how do we bill for those customers?

Because it’s going to take a lot longer to do that job. And you’re going to end up chatting where normally you don’t chat on a regular job.

Part of the Job is Chatting

Making Sure Things are Just So, Women Look at TabletA part of the job is chatting and connecting with your homeowners to make sure that everything is just so. And so, one of the things that you might consider is that you have a special project for this particular type of account. And if it’s a particular type of account, you’re going to find this out on the walkthrough.

On the walkthrough, beyond a certain number of years, and your company will decide what that is, there’s a series of questions that you must ask in the walkthrough. 

It will be a question like for example, “Is there an emergency contact number of someone we can call in the event that we need help while we’re at your home?” It’s an important conversation to have because if their kids are out of state, you need to know what their numbers are and how to get in touch with them.

Ask Permission Before You Get in Touch With Anyone

Making Sure Things are Just So, House Cleaner Talking on PhoneAnd then before you need to get in touch with them, with the permission of the homeowners say, “Listen, right now everything is good between us. Is it possible and are you okay with me calling your son to introduce myself and let him know that I will be taking over the house cleaning in your house? And then in the event that I ever need to reach out to him again, at least we’ve made that initial contact.”

And they might say, “Yes, that’s fine.”

Great. Is it okay if I do it right now while you’re here?” And then you can have that conversation right there with the parent in the house. And so that way, when you call, it’s not like, “Hey, we didn’t know about this,” but it’s also to verify that, “Hey, are you aware?”

We Have Called People Who Didn’t Know We Were Working Before

Making Sure Things are Just So, Woman Talking on PhoneBecause it’s happened where we’ve called someone else and we’ve said, “Hey, we’re standing in your mother’s living room right now. We wanted to let you know we’re the new cleaning company. We’ll be checking in on her at least once a week.” And have them say, “We didn’t know anything at all about that. We’re the ones that are paying for it, we didn’t know.”

Then we have to renegotiate the contract because, although we thought we were having the contract with the mother, it’s actually the child who’s paying for it.  So, there are a lot of things that have to be worked out so that everything is just so.

I love for us to be able to watch those conversations in a way that is honoring to the family whose home we’re cleaning, and then also honoring the family of the kids that are away that are making a living and earning an income to help pay for that.

There are times, and I hate to say it, but we’ve had to reach out to those family members. And we said, “Hey, there are a couple of things that I wanted to let you be aware of. Your dad escaped twice this week and the police brought him back to the house, so I would love if we could arrange to have a bracelet put on him that has his home address so that people know where to bring him back.”

Some People Don’t Know Anything is Wrong

Making Sure Things are Just So, Man Relaxing ReadingThen there was a woman who had lots of bruises when we found her and she said, “Oh no, no, I’m fine. Everything’s okay.”

Everything was not okay. She lived in a two-story house and was coming down a flight of stairs that did not have a handrail. And for some reason, the landlord thought that that was okay. And so, we contacted her son. 

So he came down on the weekend and was able to install a handrail so his mother could get up and down the stairs for a couple more months that she lived there until we were able to move her into a different home that was one story. So, there are things that family members can do to help.

Your Cleaning Company Isn’t Just a Cleaning Company

Making Sure Things are Just So, Cleaning Bathroom CounterAnd it’s super helpful if they know that there is a cleaning company that is not just a cleaning company. That is not there just to clean and collect a paycheck and then escape.  That there is a house cleaning company that is there to make sure that everything is just so.

This is a concept that we have, and it is set up so that even if the money is not there.  And sometimes this happens. You have a client for a year or two years, and then all of a sudden, they stopped paying. 

It’s not because they don’t value your service, but they forgot to pay you or maybe they ran out of money. There are lots of things that could happen. And so in order to make sure that everything is just so, there are scholarships that you can put in place where other clients, other customers and community health can donate to those programs where you can still go in, still pay your house cleaners to go in and to check on the elderly folks and to make sure that everything is just so.000 Savvy Cleaner Spacer Bar 2020Resources

These good karma links connect you to and affiliated sites that offer products or services that relate to today’s show. 

The Conscious Caregiver: A Mindful Approach to Caring for Your Loved One Without Losing Yourself –

Surviving the STRESS of Your Parents’ Old Age –

The Caregiving Season: Finding Grace to Honor Your Aging Parents –

Doing the Right Thing: Taking Care of Your Elderly Parents Even If They Didn’t Take Care of You –

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 –

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