Care work often requires relationships between workers and clients in intimate personal settings such as a client’s own home. Care work also requires rapport and trust to create a calm and supportive environment. Because care relationships are formed within such personal environments it is highly important that care workers maintain clear professional boundaries at all times. Relationships within such intimate environments can often have blurred lines of what is and isn’t appropriate. Therefore it is recommend to research best practice guidelines, read this article and discuss professional boundaries with your client/worker before signing an agreement.
Care workers often support individuals in vulnerable settings, for example performing personal cares such as showering a client. In these intimate situations workers must recognise that clients are placing their trust in the worker to provide appropriate help. Workers should ensure to achieve best practice by remaining calm, positive, mature and respectful. Always address your client professionally, some clients may prefer a more formal approach such as Miss, Mrs., Mr. etc. and some may prefer a first name basis. Always avoid nicknames and endearing terms such as sweetie or honey as this is unprofessional behaviour and crosses the professional relationship boundary.
It is recommended that before commencing care the client/clients family and the worker agree on best care guidelines, for example where and where not on the body it is appropriate to touch/support a client (e.g. under the arms, upper back, calves vs. lower back, upper legs etc.). Touch is powerful part of caregiving and can be helpful and supportive or confusing and unwelcome so guidelines must be set.
Your role as a helper is to empower individuals and build and/or strengthen a client’s support network. To perform a duty of care you must have rapport and trust with a client. However you must always remember they are your client not your friend. Relationships with client’s family members are not recommended outside of the boundaries of what is necessary to perform your care duties. You must ensure to not become overly attached and emotionally entangled in a client’s life. Do not include a client in your social and family life or share unnecessary information about your personal life with your client. Always ask yourself if your actions are in response to your clients’ needs or your own? If the latter then you may be crossing the line.
Privacy and confidentiality
There may be instances where you are privy to confidential information about clients and their friends and family. You should never seek out information that is not necessary or relevant to the performance of your duties as a caregiver. Any private information shared by a client must always be kept to yourself. If you ever feel concerned for a client’s wellbeing please contact us on 0800 677 700.
For some people gift giving is culturally significant and something they feel is necessary to do for occasions such as Christmas and birthdays. During these special occasions sometimes clients and/or their families like to give gifts to workers as a token of appreciation for all the support they provide. Gift giving can blur the lines between a professional and personal relationship. It is up to your own discretion to decide whether the exchanging of gifts is appropriate or not, though we do recommend workers not accept large gifts from clients. If for some reason you feel uncomfortable accepting a gift, it is okay to decline even if you think it may cause offense, as this helps to maintain your professional relationship.
When receiving gifts you may feel the need to return the gesture, however you are not obliged to do so. If you feel it is appropriate within the bounds of your professional relationship to give a small gift on certain occasions, and that your client will be comfortable with this, you are welcome to. However if you do not wish to give gifts, or feel uncomfortable doing so, you are not required to.