Compatibility is an essential component of any good relationship, and the senior that you care for should feel comfortable every time you visit their home.
While your naturally cheerful demeanor can help you overcome even the most challenging personality traits, your role as an in-home care provider goes much smoother when you and the senior you visit actually enjoy each other’s company.
Whether you are about to meet your first client or are trying to strengthen an existing relationship, these caregiver tips help you to increase trust and build a positive rapport that enhances everyone’s wellbeing.
Make Sure You Are a Good Match
When a family or senior reaches out to an in-home care provider, they typically request certain characteristics and personality traits to help with forming a relationship. However, it is possible for some things to be missed during the initial consultation. During your first conversation or visit with a senior, ask a few questions about the type of care they expect to receive and their expectations for a caregiver.
If you discover a situation where you are not an ideal fit, then be upfront about the issue with the agency. For instance, a senior may need personal hygiene care and they are not comfortable with your gender. Or, they may have had a recent health diagnosis that no longer fits the type of care that provide. In these types of situations, admitting that you are not the ideal senior caregiver for the position may be hard, but finding the right match improves the senior’s quality of care.
Share Your Qualifications and Experience
Be ready to share information about your background with your client to help them feel more at ease in your presence. For example, talking about how you have completed a certified nursing program helps the senior that you care for feel an instant sense of trust in your expertise.
If you are a companion caregiver without an extensive educational background, you can still talk about things that you have learned during your training or share how long you have been working in the field of senior care. Your client will appreciate seeing your commitment to continued excellence in your chosen career, and they’ll be more receptive to your ideas regarding their care.
Demonstrate Personal Respect
One of the first caregiver tips you ever hear is to respect every client’s dignity. During the course of a normal day as a companion caregiver, you encounter situations that require discretion and respect for privacy. Whether your client is on the phone with the bank or you are accompanying them to a health appointment, you must always remember that confidentiality is of the utmost priority. Not only is protecting the client’s personal information part of your job, but it also helps build trust that enhances your relationship.
You can also improve your compatibility by handling delicate parts of your client’s daily routine with respect for their dignity. While providing certified nursing care, you may need to perform private services such as assisting with toileting that could potentially be embarrassing to your client. Always use the best practices for handling personal care tasks that you learn in your training courses. Simple things such as looking at the senior in the eyes instead of at their bodies as you help them get dressed or using strategic draping during bathing routines go a long way toward developing a sense of respect between you and your client that spills over into other parts of your day.
Build Trust Through Consistency
Your client depends upon you for assistance with many different parts of their day. Start your caregiver relationship off on the right foot and keep it that way by doing basic things such as showing up on time every day. If you must be late or cannot visit on a certain day, then follow the appropriate procedures to make sure that your client knows that there are changes in their care.
Sticking to a routine also fosters trust for seniors who may struggle with issues such as memory loss. While your client with Alzheimer’s disease may not always be fully aware of who you are, they’ll pick up on subtle things such as the way that you always play a special song before their bedtime routine and feel an instant sense of comfort.
Develop Strong Communication Skills
Poor communication is a common cause of caregiver stress that interferes with your ability to cultivate a positive relationship with your client. Take the time to get to understand how your client prefers to communicate. For instance, they may like having things written down so that they can refer back to them later, or your client may handle difficult topics easier when you offer comfort such as a hand on their arm.
If you do find that you are in a situation where the conversation is turning negative, then try these strategies to improve your ability to communicate.
- Turn off distractions such as the television or radio
- Try doing a simple activity side by side such as a puzzle
- Have a neutral party continue the discussion such as a family member or physician
- Put the conversation on hold and come back to it later
- Shift gears completely. If the situation isn’t threatening the client’s health, it may be okay to go along with the client’s opinion
Start Each Day With a Fresh Attitude
Your attitude shapes the caregiving experience, and you must make sure to find ways to relieve stress so that you arrive at your client’s door with a positive mood. When you feel frustrated, try talking things out with another senior caregiver who may have additional tips to share about how to ease strain in your relationship with a client.
You can also utilize other strategies to get in the right mood to provide quality senior care. From starting a gratitude journal to going for a brisk walk before starting your day, taking a little time out to relax helps improve how your client relates to you.
Celebrate Special Moments Together
Bonding with your client during happy times helps you to reduce caregiver stress so that you can focus on always providing quality care. As you get to know your client, consider adding some of these simple gestures to your plans to generate positive moments that draw you closer together.
- Plan a special outing or activity at home to honor their birthday
- Provide praise for an achievement such as getting out of bed for the first time after surgery
- Draw a smily face on the calendar to mark hitting a personal goal
- Celebrate a silly holiday such as National Funny Socks Day
- Help your client make a gift for a grandchild’s birthday such as a homemade card
It doesn’t take much to bring a smile to your client’s face, and spending time together engaged in happy activities puts a positive spin on your relationship. You’ll even discover that the joys of being a companion caregiver take on new meaning as you make memories with your client together.
During your caregiving experience, you’ll quickly learn that every senior has something special about them that is just waiting for you to discover. While every relationship takes time to blossom, your continued commitment to foster an environment that promotes trust and respect helps you bring greater happiness to the seniors in your care.