Respecting Professional BoundariesA high compliment from a client and their family is that they consider us as ‘part of the family’. This means that our clients feel like they can trust us. Sometimes, this special relationship that we have with clients at a critical moment in their lives means lines can get easily crossed. The challenge for professional caregivers is maintaining professional boundaries with someone who you’re responsible for in a client’s most intimate space: their home or rooms. There are ways to build trust without crossing boundaries. It’s a great feeling to know you can laugh and get along extremely well with a client, however, do not share problems happening in your home with your client. Often our clients may have children or grandchildren our age, they may become overly concerned with our problems, causing them to become agitated or more anxious. We do not want to make clients anxious, but instead to alleviate some of the anxiety they already have. As much as clients become part of our lives, we may want to share information about them. Do not share personal information, pictures like names and medical conditions about your clients – and even worse, pictures – over social media. Not only is it a violation of HIPAA, but it breaks the trust of your clients. That means no pictures or selfies with clients in the background! Do not accept a tip or extra money for the work that you’ve done. Depending on your employer, gifts or bonuses may be appropriate during the holidays. Do not allow clients to purchase gifts or offer you cash, other than what you are already paid to provide care. Borrowing money or getting money from clients can lead to legal problems and questions about your ethical judgement, which is why you should refuse it if you’re ever offered. Generally, there are discussions and conversations that are off the table, unless your client feels comfortable discussing them, because they impact the way you care for them. For instance, it isn’t appropriate to discuss religion or politics. However, if it relates to your ability to provide care, then make sure you know through your agency or the family of your client. If a client eats Kosher, a particular dietary restriction for certain observant Jews, for example, then this is something that makes sense for you to know.
Your Own Personal Responsibilities for ProfessionalismIt’s hard to know what can go wrong in a single day. We have all had a day where nothing seems to right. Here are some ideas to make the day go better:
- Maintaining a positive work attitude and behavior
- Being willing to ask for help when you need it. Know that it is better to ask questions than do something that may be unsafe or unprofessional because you lack the skills or information.
- Identifying strategies for how to balance work and family responsibilities. Some strategies include arranging childcare and communicating to your supervisor when there are family emergencies.
- Coordinating personal transportation, and making alternative plans to maintain work schedule. Also, make sure you figure out how to get to work when your reliable mode of transportation is not running.