I have a question for any of you who work in caring for the elderly, or know someone who does. A bit of background:
My MIL is 89 years old, and while still sharp has her "fuzzy-headed" days. Despite that she still takes her daily walk (with her little cat accompanying her), can cook her own meals and does light housework. She's helped out by two organisations who provide Home Help: they do her grocery shopping, do the housework she can't manage, and sometimes her Home Helper will just take her for a drive or share a pot of tea and a chat. DH and I come around every day - we live two suburbs over, a 5-minute drive (for DH) or a half-hour walk (for me, I don't drive), and we stagger our days so she always has company. She also attends a weekly "elderly group" where she can liaise, chat with friends, or take part in one of their outings.
This happened two years ago, but DH is still steaming about it. MIL's mother loved theatre and ballet, and would take her children to the theatre regularly. MIL had a wonderful collection of theatre programmes dating back to the early 1920's/30's, when she was a girl. I loved looking through them, as I used to work in theatre and used to collect theatre programmes myself. MIL's programmes weren't rare as such, but would be valuable to an avid collector.
One day I dropped by for lunch. After the meal I asked if I could look through the programmes again. MIL said "Oh, I gave those to 'Kay'!"
'Kay' is one of her Home Helpers whose husband took a job in another state, so she had to give up her job with the organisation, but took the time to visit every one of her clients to say good-bye. During her visit she spotted the pile of antique programmes on the sideboard (where I'd left them from my last visit) and asked to flip through them. While she was admiring them she mentioned that she and her husband had worked in theatre, and he would just love to see them, they'd both worked in a couple of the theatres some of the programmes came from, weren't they a wonderful piece of theatrical history, etc. etc. MIL (not realising how much I liked them) offered the lot of them to her as a gift. Kay was delighted and accepted them.
I was disappointed all the programmes had been given away, but accepted it, after all they're MIL's to keep or give as a gift. But DH was LIVID. He's furious that a charity-paid home help would take anything from one of their clients. He's also afraid that MIL might give away her best jewellery, the watch his father gave her, some of the antique pieces in the house, to the next home help who admires them. I know MIL's not that dotty, but DH won't be convinced.
Here's my question: when working as a Home Help, especially with the aged or age-impaired, isn't it a rule to refuse any gift offered, especially a valuable one? DH even toyed with the idea of lodging a complaint against this woman with the organisation that used to employ her, but I talked him out of it - she's moved out of state, and might not work in Aged Care anymore, and what good could it do? It's not like we can demand back a gift that my MIL gave to someone she thought would get more pleasure out of than we could. His reply was to wait and see those programmes up for sale on e-Bay.
I'm not angry that MIL gave the programmes away - she's a generous, giving woman - just sad that I don't have them to look through anymore. But I'm really peeved that Kay accepted the offer. DH wants to catalogue what valuable jewellery pieces MIL has, and keep them at our house. Which one of us is right? Just wondering.