When a client and caregiver “click,” good things happen: The care provided is generally better, and both parties tend to be more engaged and satisfied. So the question is, what can caregivers do to build a good relationship with their clients? Here are five characteristics a good caregiver brings to the relationship:
A caregiver is called in because a vulnerable person is in need of help. But it’s important that care is provided in a way that makes the client a partner in the process. Clients respond best when their caregiver genuinely understands and acknowledges their fears and concerns, and feels empathy for their situation. Compassion and empathy also strongly influence client engagement and satisfaction.
Being a Good Listener
A caregiver who listens in order to understand creates a sense of trust with their client. A caregiver who listens shows the client that their voice matters, which shows respect. Caregivers also need to be good listeners to learn from the individual they serve – they may be the first person to hear important information. For example, they may hear that the client feels tired, recently fell, or that they aren’t taking a new medication because it makes them feel poorly. Listening enables the caregiver to be one of the client’s best advocates.
A skilled caregiver understands the client’s care plan and their journey to well-being. Caregivers have a unique perspective that can supplement the client’s family’s perspective. Sometimes family members struggle with deeply established family dynamics, which can distract or even interfere with clients getting the support they need, especially when new challenges arise. An understanding caregiver is able to introduce a fresh approach that supports all parties involved.
Keen, non-judgmental observation is an important skill for a caregiver. An observant caregiver can help the client’s loved ones become aware of health and safety concerns. An observant caregiver can also discern subtle changes in mood, mobility, or appetite that are key to detecting problems early enough for timely interventions.
Being a Good Companion
Social interaction is fundamental to good health. People with multiple health challenges are more likely to be socially isolated and lonely, situations that are strongly associated with poor health outcomes. A good caregiver provides companionship, which is an ideal way to interrupt that pattern. Companionship might mean helping an individual enjoy a great meal, a game of cards, a shared conversation, or a walk in the park, so that the client looks forward to the next visit.