If you’re looking for quality in-home senior care for yourself or a loved one, one of the most important factors to consider is the relationship between caregiver and client. Usually, our gut does a good job of letting us know our feelings about a person. From the first meeting, you may have a sense of comfort and easiness with the person who will be playing such an important role in you or your loved one’s life. If not, it’s perfectly OK to keep looking. When you do decide on a home healthcare agency, here are some things you can do to make sure that the relationship between caregiver and senior not only grows but thrives.
Choose the right caregiver and/ or agency
First thing’s first. You may be wondering how to go about choosing the right caregiver or agency for you or your loved one. Important factors to consider include:
- Quality staff – An in-home senior care business with an established record of quality will not only have employees who have been with the company for a longer period of time but employees who are well-trained and experienced.
Also, remember that it’s perfectly fine to request a different caregiver if you feel that the current relationship isn’t working out. This is one of the benefits of working with an agency (as opposed to an independent caregiver) – you can work with a different staff member if the current caregiver isn’t a good fit for your family.
- Affordability – It’s difficult to put a price on the care of a beloved family member, but now, more than ever, affordability likely factors into your decision of which home health care agency to work with.
Once you’ve decided to work with a home healthcare agency or individual caregiver, it’s important to begin establishing trust. This can be tricky in the beginning. It’s normal for seniors to ask as little as possible from a new caregiver because they value their self-reliance and independence and are still forming that bond of trust. After a while, when a caregiver responds when needed, treats your loved one with respect, and demonstrates competence, you and your family will likely find that it’s easier to ask for help (and to trust that it will be provided).
Ask for help
Ideally, both caregivers and family members should be secure in asking for help. For example, if you would prefer to change the way the caregiver does something or add a new activity or service, ask in a direct and clear manner. Similarly, caregivers should feel comfortable asking for help understanding how your senior loved one would like things done and understanding his or her lifestyle.
Work on good communication
Good communication is vital when working with your senior loved one’s caregiver. Establishing clear communication helps prevent misunderstandings and build trust. Be clear about your expectations. If something is bothering you, inform the caregiver and/ or the agency right away. In addition, by taking care of the problem sooner rather than later, you help keep the bond of trust going strong since each party knows that they can count on the other to be open and honest.
No one likes to be criticized or nitpicked about things. Remember, it’s important to openly communicate your preferences, but there is a fine line between that healthy type of communication and trying to oversee and change everything that the caregiver is doing. If you have established a good level of trust, you should feel comfortable communicating directly with the agency and caregiver in productive ways.
As the relationship between your family, your senior loved one, and his or her caregiver develops, it’s important to remember that patience is important. While you are all getting to know each other, a little tact and deep breathing can go a long way. Remember, you are all in this together and are there to help each other. Treat each other with respect, and the relationship will be a productive and nurturing one.
To get at the heart of what you need, it often pays to ask questions. Depending on your senior loved one’s personality and temperament, questioning a caregiver may not come easily to him or her, but it’s important in building a good relationship based on effective communication. For example, if your loved one asks why a caregiver is preparing meals in a certain way, it can open the door for a conversation about his or her preferences about mealtime.
Spend time together
Spending time together is one of the best ways for your senior loved one and his or her caregiver to bond and establish a strong relationship. From companionship needs, such as reading, playing games, and taking walks, to nutrition and medical needs, such as transportation to appointments and running errands, your loved one’s caregiver will be spending a lot of time with him or her. And time is what makes good relationships even stronger.