Respecting Client Bounderies
Every day, in the course of our caregiving duties, there is the potential to cross personal, physical, and emotional boundaries with our clients. However good our intentions are, we must recognize that helping our clients to enjoy a better quality of life also includes being aware and respectful of boundaries. Failing to respect boundaries opens the door for anger, resentment, misunderstanding and even outright conflict, all of which we should avoid. One area to be particularly mindful of relates to the nature of our relationship with clients. There is a dividing line between friendship and professionalism which, though invisible, is very concrete in the minds of clients and their loved ones.It may not be articulated verbally, but they expect you to remain firmly on the professional end of the line, while also being friendly. At no time is it ever acceptable to cross that line and give yourself the permission to drop professionalism in favour of friendship. By all means be friendly, but keep it professional. Failure to do so could lead to all kinds of problems, even legal ones. To preserve our professionalism, it is important that everyone at HomeCare Australia bears the following in mind:
During your caregiving career, it is likely that you will grow fond of some your clients. This is a good thing – we are human and our capacity for affection is just part of our human nature. Where things become tricky is when our affection for a client grows into attachment thatclouds our professionalism and culminates in future expectations. This is bad for the client and it is bad for the caregiver.
For the client, it is not good if they develop a strong attachment to the caregiver to the point where they only want to be cared for by that one caregiver. When that happens, the client might suffer when the caregiver is not around, especially if it is a temporary arrangement. For the caregiver, over-attachment to a particular client might cloud your judgement and you may forget your primary objective and the goals of your work with such client. To avoid such a scenario:
- Do not go overboard to provide your client with extra services that are not part of your professional care giving service. This is by no means an injunction to stop doing nice things for your clients. What it means is that the nice things you do for your client needs to remain within the boundaries of your professional duties.
- Speak well of other caregivers, your colleagues at HomeCare Australia, so that your client appreciates that the professional care you provide for them will not end even if you need to be awayfor some time. This will help them from becoming too attached to you.
- Let your client know about your limits, but do it in a manner that would not arouse anger. This doesn’t mean you should also go about saying “NO” to any favour you are asked.
- Report any problems/issues to the office. We can support you in maintaining client/carer boundaries.
Love yourself Understandwhy you to do your job will also help you understand and respect boundaries. Do you do your job because you love helping others or simply to earn a living? Do you do it as a means of earning love? There could be many other reasons of course, but if you see your job as a means of earning other people’s love, you’ve already put yourself in danger of crossing personal boundaries. Always remember that your job is not about earning your client’s love. It is to take good care of them. Examine your perception of yourself also. Do you love yourself? If you do, you will be less inclined to go beyond the bounds of professionalism to get other people to love you. Always remember that you are a professional caregiver and as such, do your best to respect boundaries whether they are verbally stated or not. If you need support or to discuss boundary issues with clients or maybe you are just not sure whether you have stepped over the line with client/carer boundaries, give the office a call to discuss.