Hiring an in-home caregiver for an aging parent, life partner, or family member is unlike any other business transaction. Caregiving is a highly personal, often intimate service that naturally lends itself to the development of a strong bond. It’s a relationship built on the gratitude and trust that develops when a client experiences kindness and empathy from caregivers performing their services.
While of course it’s a caregiver’s goal to connect with the client and to provide exemplary service, it’s important for clients to set and maintain appropriate boundaries. Here’s why.
The Dangers of Overstepping Boundaries
As the senior-caregiver relationship progresses, it’s understandable for clients to begin to view their caregivers as family members. It’s a common and somewhat natural occurrence, and while comfortable and seemingly harmless, it can actually be detrimental in several different ways.
- The caregiver you become accustomed to often serves multiple clients or may be unavailable at times due to calling in sick or taking vacation days. Seniors may then be reluctant to accept an equally-qualified replacement caregiver when the primary caregiver is unavailable, potentially resulting in care needs going unmet, missed medications or meals, increased risks of a fall in the home, etc.
- Providing comfort to clients is a key objective of caregiving, but the comfort of a relationship should not interfere with or diminish the scope or quality of the services caregivers are obligated to perform. There are times when clients may relax, allow, or be accepting of a lesser level of service, such as not being as mindful and diligent of keeping the house picked up. As a paid service, it’s important to ensure all aspects of the care service you receive continue to meet, and ideally exceed the expectations you set at the time you enlisted the service.
- Empathy and compassion are wonderful human qualities that clients often exhibit toward the caregiver with whom they develop a close relationship. Despite the desire to express their feelings or provide assistance and support to a caregiver, clients should never over-compensate the caregiver by offering things such things as family possessions or cash as gifts.
How to Set Healthy Boundaries
It’s important for seniors to know how to strike an appropriate balance between feeling connected to their caregivers and maintaining professional boundaries. At the onset of services, expectations and standards are clearly outlined. Over time and as the relationship develops, it’s a good idea to review that information to keep it top of mind. Our caregivers are dedicated, caring professionals who are onboarded and trained in maintaining proper boundaries with the seniors they serve. They fully understand that it is a business relationship, albeit with highly personal implications.
There are a number of ways seniors can thank their caregivers that will be appreciated and valued, without overstepping boundaries. For instance:
- Call the office and let the agency staff know what a great job a caregiver is doing. At Right at Home, we love rewarding our caregivers for exceptional service!
- Express appreciation to the caregiver, verbally or by writing a note or card.
- Invite the caregiver to stay and share a meal.
- Provide a small token of gratitude, such as a bouquet of flowers cut from the garden.
We strive to hire the most compassionate and highly skilled caregivers in our area, and we are always delighted to know that they’re making connections with the seniors they serve. It’s indeed a delicate balancing act for seniors to form a bond with their caregivers and maintain an appropriate measure of professional distance.
We're always here to answer any questions you may have, and to help ensure that the seniors we serve are enjoying a healthy, positive relationship with their caregivers. Contact the experts in home care in Sarasota and surrounding areas at Right at Home any time at (941) 929-1966.