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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

We are all customers...

Riley has been in a nursing home for respite care while I re-charge my batteries. It has been a pretty awesome week for me just to be able to come and go without concern for who is watching after Riley. There has been no need for changing soiled underwear, serving meals or snacks, doing daily laundry or having to be quiet in the early hours of the morning. It’s been great just to be alone in my house.

But the week is over and he is back at home.

The nursing home was clean and there
appeared to be adequate personnel available to attend to the patients. I don’t know if they are called patients. Someone once told me that they are residents. Whatever. The residents seemed happy and comfortable.

I went to the nursing home because it was Riley’s birthday and I wanted to make sure he had some kind of acknowledgment. I brought an ice cream cake, party hats and a banner for his room.

I also wanted to have a brief conversation with his nurse. She was a little bitty thing. So cute and young. As I was trying to explain a few things, she didn’t seem to be really hearing me. So, I left to find the admissions director to discuss the possibility of permanent placement. That was equally unsatisfying. The rates are so high, I would have to win the lottery to be able to afford placing him there. I truly don’t know how people do it.

After returning home, I realized that I had forgotten to tell them about wanting Riley to get a haircut while he was there. I called his nurse, but she said I had to come to the nursing home and pay for it in advance. She also said that the barber wouldn’t be there until Tuesday. Riley was coming home on Tuesday. I asked her if she would please have someone call me to see if they could get him to the barber before he left. She acknowledged and read my phone number back to me.

On Monday, I called the admission director to double check that an attempt would be made to get Riley his haircut. She was not at her desk, so I left a voice mail. I was patient. I left two messages, surely someone would be calling me back. But no phone call came.

Tuesday morning, Riley returned home with his hair in the same awful condition it was in when he went to the nursing home. I was very disappointed.

I have noticed that customer service is sorely lacking when it should be a priority. I guess the days are gone when the customer was always right. I remember a seminar I was gave on “Defining Who Your Customers Really Are”. In a nutshell, almost everyone you do any type of business with and even those who support you to do your business end up being your customer.

Some people might say that I was not the customer of the nursing home, that Riley was the true customer. However, I manage Riley’s care and have the authority to remove him from their care. I’m the one who says, he stays or goes. So, yes, Riley is a customer but I am also a customer. I deserve to be treated with respect. I deserve to have calls returned. I deserve to be kept in the loop of his treatment and care. If that doesn’t happen, I’m inclined to remove both me and Riley from their circle of customers.

Someone once told me that “you get what you accept”. I believe that is true. We all must stand up and insist that we be treated with respect. We must take our business elsewhere if we are not appreciated as customers. If we don’t, we will continue to let the people who are suppose to be serving us, control us instead.


My time away from Riley provided me with rest and a sense of renewed energy to continue to do the things that are important to me. I found myself again. I can once again say “no” to people who insist that they know what I need more than I do.

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