As a professional caregiver, you must possess the skills necessary to take care of an ailing patient. One of those skills involves communication—with your employer and with their loved ones.
Keep in mind that throughout your career, your attention is focused not just on your client, but also those associated with them. This includes family members.
As loved ones, they will, of course, be concerned about the person taking care of their relative. They will want to know that you’re the best person for the job.
For anyone who has an ill relative or loved one, not being able to take care of them makes these family members feel helpless. They may experience feelings of guilt when they see someone else doing this job.
Being the primary caregiver, your job is to ensure those family members that your job is quite different, and that together, you’re doing the best you can to take care of the loved one’s emotional, mental and physical needs.
Building a Relationship of Trust
Family members will be more at ease if you do your part to build a professional relationship with them.
Maintain direct contact with them and let them know of your client’s progress and needs. Ask as much as you can about your employer’s family situation, how they can help, what their concerns are, and what they need.
Make this method of communication personal, authenticand friendly. Let them know that you understand their predicament and that you respect them. And even though they’re not helping out directly, their interestis still enough. Also, let them know that they’re welcome to contact you at any time to inquire about their loved one.
This will reassure them about their family member’s health and wellbeing.
Provide Clear Information
If there’s anything the family members should know beforehand, be honest and forthcoming about it.
If there are difficulties, do not try to sugarcoat things. Be polite and courteous, but most of all, use tact.
Simplify medical terminologyso that they know there’s no reason to be concerned.
Assure Comfort and Well-Being
This is what the family will be most concerned about, especially if they live at a distance. These people are relying on you. They’ve hired you to do the best for their loved one.
Remind them and show them that you’re addressing your client’s condition and doing your best to take care of them.
If there’s anything that’s overwhelming you, letthem know. If you need any help, inform them about it. Let them know of all needs – yours and the client’s – so there’s no care lacking.
Be Respectful and Understanding
This is another important factor. You must never jump to conclusions or judge someone’s circumstances.
Be mindful of someone’s religion, heritage and culture. Do not judge their beliefs and ideology. You are there to take care of them, not change their minds or talk about their belief system.
For example, in some family systems, the eldest or the male family member will make major decisions. If this is the case, be respectful of it and communicate with that person.
Also, go the extra mile around holidays and traditions. Try to make the environment welcoming and friendly. Encourage your client to take part in preparations and teach them to be independent when conducting any tasks.
Show the family and your client that you enjoy working for them, and that you genuinely respect them.
Be a Family Caregiver
Being a caregiver, you’re responsible for a lot more than just ensuring the health and wellness of your client. You’re a support system for them and their family who trust you enough to leave someone they love in your care.
Communicating with Your Client
Moving on, we next focus on the skills you need for effective communication with your client.
If you’re meeting a client for the first time, aim to make them feel at ease. The first meeting is the make or break moment. You want to set the right first impression.
Remember that they might be a bit nervous meeting you. Smile openly. Make eye contact. Ask after their health, their hobbies, their past work.
Before meeting them, find out if they have any condition that needs special accommodation. For example, if your client is hearing-impaired, adjust your communication skills accordingly.
Look directly at them when you talk. Speak clearly and loudly, and try not to use your hands as much so they don’t get distracted.
Right off the bat, explain to them that you understand their medical condition (if they have one) and that you’re going to take care of them. Be open with your body language and listen to how and what they say.
Sometimes, patients just need someone to talk to, someone who will listen. Be patient when they speak and show genuine interest in the conversation.
Most of all, treat them with respect. Most of the time, people with disabilities want to be treated equally, just like everyone else. Teach them to be independent. Commend their efforts and help them understand that they don’t need to rely on you for everything.
Be supportive and be optimistic. If they’re having a bad day, show that you understand by listening to them or by being there.Sometimes, your presence is enough.
How ‘The Global Caregiver’ Can Help
We offer caregiving counseling services to clients worldwideas well as resources so caregivers, professional and otherwise can learn how to be their best selves.
Caregiving can be quite overwhelming. Because of the stress of the work involved, many people can become de-motivated. And this de-motivation can translate into caregivers being lax when communicating.
By mastering all skills needed with proper coaching and guidance through informational resources and seminarsamong other methods, you can be a reliable caregiver.
To learn more about caregiving, contact us todayor buy “The Beverley Method” e-book written by The Global Caregiver founder Beverly Shungu-Ombaas a guide to help raise the bar in a caregiver’s confidence training.