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Can I drink when I work with a client?

At many placements you will find that there is no alcohol in the house, or at least very little. You may find that your client does not drink anymore because medication and alcohol simply do not mix.

However, with a client who is reasonably healthy and not taking a huge amount of medication you may be asked if, at the end of the day, or with a meal, you would like to share a glass of wine with them.

Can you do this?

Yes, you can, but...

The agency says no

You may want to go along with them and this mantra as if they should find out that you have the odd glass with your client, you may be called in to be questioned.

Agencies need to know that they can trust the live-in carers they send to clients, and if one of the stipulations is that you do not drink at a placement, then that’s what they will expect.

Will they find out? Of course, they will. Sooner or later, it will come out that you and your client have a glass at the end of the day or with supper.

Depending on how you manage to talk your way around this, you may find that they feel they simply cannot trust you in further placements.

The neighbors may see

Yes, they may. And more importantly, they may talk. It is worth remembering that neighbors who have known your client for many years before you arrived can feel that they have some sort of ‘ownership’ regarding your client. Carers may come and go, but the neighbor is a constant.

As such, there may be a certain amount of jealous. Anything you do that they perceive to be wrong may see them telling tales to the family.

What is a perfectly innocent event may soon escalate out of hand to be a huge issue. You will very seldom win this battle – after all, you just got there, didn’t you? Next door neighbor has kept an eye on your client for years!

Other people may see

Even if the neighbors do not notice, know, or seem to care whether you have a drink with your client or not, other people may notice.

For example, there is no internet in the house and so every day in your break you head for the local pub, where they offer free Wi-Fi. You have a cup of coffee and check your emails.

Many people will not see this. What they will see is the carer from the house over the road heading for the pub every day…and so the rumor will spread. You may well be an innocent party, but you will be guilty by association.

If you have had a glass of wine and need to call an ambulance for any reason, two empty wine glasses on the sink will have them asking questions about how much wine has been consumed and whether you are in a fit state to care for a vulnerable person.

Bottom line

It is best to stick to the rules of your agency – after all, they hired you, didn’t they? Also, best to avoid becoming the center of attention with a ‘nosey neighbor’ who will feel it their duty to tell someone about their concerns.

If you have to handle – in any way – medication for your client, you may want to abstain from any drink while you are there.

If your role is more of a companionship than carer role, then you may decide to have a glass of wine each day. Clear this first with the family and, for goodness’ sake, make sure there are no glasses on the sink if you need to call emergency services!

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