The caregiver/client relationship can, on occasion, be delicate and challenging. Clients can sometimes feel that their life is no longer in their control and this can make them feel angry and helpless. The following tips are designed to help nurture the caregiver/client relationship to lessen the feelings of being out of control, as well as to build trust and a genuine bond.
1) Learn to Ask for Help
The caregiver/client relationship can be detailed and it sometimes involves difficult, confusing, or emotionally challenging scenarios. One of the first steps towards communication and a safe, healing relationship is transparency and the ability to ask for help. This is true for both the client and the caregiver.
In order to build trust, the client needs to be able to request help when it is needed and, in order to provide quality care, the caregiver needs to be able to ask the client for help in understanding something new or clarifying a preference or concern. Asking for help is central to communication.
2) Exercise Compassion
A home care environment often entails a disabled person who may not have full command of brain function and capacities such as motor skills, memory, and speech. These types of disabilities are intricate and can possibly create frustration between the caregiver and client.
Frustration, however, leads to a strained relationship. Instead of allowing frustration to take hold, caregivers should seek to exercise compassion. Compassion for self and others allows people to soften their hearts toward another person and get to a place of honest communication.
3) Be Patient
Dementia, stroke, and Alzheimer’s can lead to stressful situations. Patience is the most important virtue a caregiver can have in challenging situations. It is important for a caregiver to understand that some clients are not always in complete control of their actions and, with that in mind, to give the person extra time to calm down and make different decisions. This often requires giving the client personal space, positivity, and empathy.
4) Use Encouragement
Encouragement is an underrated soft skill. In addition to motivating clients to behave differently when needed, encouragement is empowering and goes a long ways toward boosting a client’s self-esteem and making him or her feel capable and in charge once more.
5) Be an Active Listener
Each client has a story to tell and learning to truly listen to that story will quickly foster a bond and encourage increased communication and understanding.
Additionally, active listening with clients encourages increased rapport and allows the caregiver to better pick up on potential warning signs.
6) Do What the Clients Love
Do you have a client who loves to read but cannot do so anymore due to poor vision or impaired brain function? Maybe you have a client who loves puzzles, scrapbooking, or board games. Whatever the case may be, make a concerted and honest effort to engage the client in these pastimes. In addition to helping a client feel more involved, whole, and capable, these activities can go a long way toward decreasing feelings of distress in a client and encouraging positive changes in behavior.
7) Practice Respect
Caregivers need to have a deep respect for the client, their family members, the client’s home, and personal belongings. This helps to keep the client at ease and comfortable. Practicing constant respect serves to place the client and the caregiver on the same plane, encouraging increased communication and a deeper relationship.
When practices like empathy, active listening, respect, transparency, and patience are exercised, both the client and caregiver can find themselves in a trusting, caring, and safe relationship.