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.
Sometimes clients and/or their families give gifts to workers as a token of appreciation for all the help they do. It is recommended that gifts do not be accepted as it blurs the line between a professional relationship and a friendly one. However workers may not want to cause offence by refusing a gift. Always avoid accepting large gifts and if you choose to accept small ones do so with caution. Do not be afraid to reaffirm with your client that a simple thank you or a card is enough as it is your job to provide help.