Home health employees often have some advantages over their health care colleagues who work at much busier places like hospitals or clinics.
In the home health world, it’s often more of a one-on-one situation with a client and caregiver rather than someone trying to provide care simultaneously to multiple patients on a floor or a department. Although skilled and non-skilled caregivers alike do learn quickly to focus attention on every patient and prioritize their time, no matter the environment or numbers, there is some appeal to being able to only need to work with one client at a time. Plus, visiting someone’s home, even it’s to provide health care, also might be more comfortable for client and caregiver alike than a more stark, sterile, and usually noisy medical institution.
In a home health situation like those provided by Accredited Home Care, opportunities can be provided for caregivers and clients to get to know each other better. It may lead to great conversations, maybe even mutual laughs and tears if the client requires help over an extended period of time.
In some cases, several home health colleagues may visit during the week, such as a nurse, an aide, or a therapist. This can also be a way to get to know co-workers better and for the client to feel appreciated (but maybe a little crowded if everyone shows up at once!)
Be warned that a close bond won’t automatically happen in every situation, since there’s still a level of trust that needs to be established.
Clients, especially newer ones, may still feel vulnerable about needing strangers to take care of their health needs. They may also be physically or mentally tired from whatever health condition requires them to have home health care since it can certainly be a big adjustment for someone who has enjoyed their independence.
People who are also dealing with end-of-life care matters may have other matters weighing on them so may not feel like making new friends easily.
Sometimes, besides providing general care as needed, caregivers also may have to provide other assistance, including making clients comfortable with their new situation.
A big part of this includes paying attention to them, which can be done in a number of ways.
- Listen. This skill is a key asset for anyone in a caregiver position, from a new aide to a nurse who has been working for years. Good listeners let people speak, don’t interrupt, and ask further questions. It’s a skill that can be developed and practiced but is always appreciated by the people who have something to say.
Certainly, there are times when a listener might have to jump in and pause someone’s story, especially for safety or scheduling needs. But for the most part, a home health environment does provide a good deal of opportunities for someone to take a little more time to hear what a client has to say.
As someone grows stronger in their home health and listening abilities, they may even be able to perform basic tasks at the same time, such as making meals, minor housekeeping, or similar procedures. Multi-tasking well can be tricky but can also be useful for someone with limited time.
There’s also a skill called active listening, where a listener responds to what someone is saying to make sure they’re understanding, and then asks further questions.
- Share your stories. Part of giving someone attention is sharing common references. Telling details about yourself can be interesting to the client. He or she might not have a lot of direct social contact, so might prize every conversation. They might want to know about your training, your family, your hometown. They also might be interested in your career, even if you’re unsure where it’s going. This doesn’t mean dominate the conversation and talk about yourself, but more like volunteering information when asked. Or in some cases, having a casual conversation can take the client’s mind off other less pleasant topics.
- Treat them as special. Clients with chronic medical conditions have had a lot of interactions with nurses. Many say that the ones who treat them well and act like they’re the most important people in the facility are the most memorable, even in a busy hospital setting. True, in a home health situation, there isn’t much competition. But you can still take the time to give them your full attention. You may have other patients you have to visit that day or week, but you might be the only people they interact with regularly.
- Ask for help. If you’re relatively new to home health care, you likely have co-workers who have had all sorts of skilled and unskilled positions. They can be great resources for tips on establishing rapport and strategies on paying attention well. They’ll likely have memorable stories of what to do and what not to do, from their vast experience, from clients who were wonderful to work with to others who just wanted to be left alone. Being that most nurses are eager to assist clients and peers, they’ll likely load you with helpful suggestions and check with you later.