A caregiver is a key position in home care, and an agency couldn’t exist without them. To the client, the caregiver is the face of that agency. The caregiver’s relationship with the client and their family is critical to the home care success. In the same way, it can also be a detriment if the relationship goes beyond professional caregiver boundaries. What are those boundaries? Setting professional boundaries for your caregivers is an essential role of the agency. Not only should they be set but trained and reiterated often. There must be respect and understanding of why these boundaries are essential.
The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh published a training on professional boundaries for caregivers in March of 2010[i]. The chart reflects common boundaries easily crossed by caring caregivers. Use this chart to start the conversation on what boundaries are at risk and how to stay within the bounds.
Caregivers are professionals and should be treated as such. Guidelines will help them maintain a professional working relationship with their clients. Because caregivers are naturally caring and want to help their clients, they may unintentionally cross a boundary and even be unaware they did. As an agency, you must keep the boundaries clear, ask questions often to ensure adherence, and encourage open dialogue about boundary concerns. Let your clients know upfront what those boundaries are so they will also be aware. Not only will this protect your caregiver and client, but it will also protect the reputation of your agency.
[i] Professional Boundaries for Caregivers, University of WI Oshkosh Center for Community Development, Engagement and Training (CCDET). Training materials are available on our website at http://www.uwosh.edu/ccdet/caregiver/, March 2010