Your home care clients rely on your team to provide additional assistance, friendly companionship, exceptional care, and peace of mind. As your caregivers go into your client homes to provide these things, it is common for the caregiver to become a part of the extended family of the client. After all, your home care agency’s success is built on a foundation of relationships with your clients.
It is common for caregivers and staff to build relationships with their home care clients. However, the nature of home care can also lend itself to caregivers and other staff unintentionally creating blurry boundaries between caregiver and client. Here is how to ensure your team is building proper boundaries with your clients.
Why Proper Boundaries?
Without proper and professional boundaries, caregivers and clients can experience an unhealthy relationship. They may become co-dependent on one another, they may end up gossiping with one another, or they may end up with the roles of caregiver and client mixed up. Caregivers and family members can also create unhealthy or blurry boundaries, which can lead to hurt feelings, unsatisfied family members, or other tricky situations.
Start with Orientation Curriculum
Begin your training about professional boundaries and expectations at the start of employment. Your orientation training should include at least 30 minutes about the importance of professional boundaries and how to maintain those. It should also include steps the staff member can do if they feel a boundary is being crossed.
Continue with Ongoing Education
Professional boundaries should be a regular topic in your ongoing education plan. Consider a training where you run through common scenarios and have caregivers brainstorm or role-play how to recognize the broken boundary as well as how to reestablish it. You can even have caregivers share how they set up boundaries with their clients.
Have a Social Media Policy
Social media is a breeding ground for unprofessional boundaries between staff and family members or clients. Consider writing a social media policy that discourages online “friendships” between home care clients, their family members, and your staff. If a family member “likes” a caregiver on social media, they see a more personal side of that caregiver that could include complaints about work, less professional language, or other personal experiences. Unfortunately, this more personal glimpse into the life of a caregiver can cause distrust within their professional role.
Similarly, leaders within your organization should not be “friends” with clients, caregivers, peers, referral sources, or family members. Instead, they can suggest the person follow your agency’s social media feed.
Friends, But Not Family
Professional boundaries get blurred more easily in home care situations because there is less supervision from leaders as well as because the caregivers are in the client’s home daily. While you should encourage caregivers to get to know clients and form a meaningful relationship with them, they should not create a family relationship. Your caregivers should not share about their personal hardships or call the client “Grandma”. Instead, the conversations should be client-centered and always respectful.
Make sure your caregivers feel comfortable to come to you or other agency leaders if they have questions or concerns about professional boundaries. You can coach them through situations together.
Article written by Haley Burress.
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