Do you remember the childhood game of Chinese Whispers? You whispered a sentence from child to child and the resulting sentence was nothing like the original?
Like the game, messages between you and your in home care services can get garbled without clear ground rules. Build a trusting relationship with your in home Care Worker and in home care agency by understanding the rules of communication.
Who is the boss in this relationship? Who has the authority to make changes, or communicate problems?
Creating the Care Plan
Before care begins for your elderly parent or spouse ageing in place, you and the in home care agency’s Care Manager will create a written Care Plan. The Care Plan outlines exactly how care for the elderly parent or spouse will occur in the best way possible. This is the roadmap of tasks, responsibilities, and goals. The Care Plan will identify how to meet goals for:
- Improving quality of life
- Providing a sense of security and care while ageing in place
- Improving independence
The Care Plan also outlines specific in home care tasks to help with daily routines such as dressing, grooming, meals, medications, hobbies, and more. You know your ageing parent or spouse the best, so you guide their care. The in home care agency guides the Care Worker based on the Care Plan and your ongoing feedback.
Following the Care Plan guides everyone toward the same in home care services goals. The Care Plan also keeps communication smooth between different professional Care Workers and other in home health care services. It also helps in the situation where your regular Care Worker goes on holiday, ensuring the substitute Care Worker will know what to do.
Enter the Professional Care Worker
The in home care agency’s Care Manager will select in home Care Workers that best fit your in home care needs. You will meet them in person to decide who is the best fit for your family.
You pay the in home care agency. The Care Worker is employed by the agency. This is like any job where your employer pays you; they are your boss. There may also be family Carers in the mix. They should also know the Care Plan and understand their role in “the home care services team.”
Be open and honest with the in home care agency and the professional Care Worker so everyone knows their responsibilities. Tension in the home will affect the elderly parent or spouse that is receiving in home care. Discuss disagreements with the agency or Care Worker outside the home. Keep the caregiving environment as calm and organised as possible.
Changing the Care Plan
Everyone on the team, starting with the in home care agency, should know what is in the Care Plan. The plan will need to be changed from time to time. That is normal and expected. Changing the plan is good! Just make sure that everyone is aware of the changes you want.
Communicate changes with the Care Manager, the professional Care Worker, and your parent or spouse.
Chain of Communications
You will develop a strong working relationship with the professional in home Care Worker. You will want to talk with them about new observations, needs, and goals. The heart of caregiving is personal for you. It is natural to want to “be in charge.”
Conflicting instructions from many sources leads to confusion about responsibilities in home care service provision. We aren’t robots. There should always be a clear chain of communication. Call the in home care agency first to discuss changing the care plan.
Here are a few examples of when you might want to change the Care Plan:
- Your parent’s doctor advises changes to diet or activity, or frequency of medication
- You notice your parent is eating less than before
- Your parent is anxious about things that never bothered her before, e.g., mirrors
Respect Your Parent’s Autonomy
Your parent may resent the intrusion of professional Care Workers into their personal space. Be patient and understanding. Listen to their feelings and concerns about being “managed” or “bossed.” You will be juggling your parent’s independence with their safety as they are ageing in place.
Your parent has their own style of communication and may need time to adjust. You are the advocate and spokesperson for your elderly parent or spouse.
If there is a misunderstanding about tasks or goals, clarify with the in home care agency first. For example, your parent wants to take part in meal preparation. Instead, the Care Worker is preparing all the meals herself. Talk with the agency Care Manager about this need to foster independence.
The Care Plan Will Change Frequently
Everyone should feel comfortable proposing changes. This includes you, family members, your loved one, the home care agency Care Manager and the professional in home Care Worker.
The Care Manager will discuss proposed changes with you, and then inform the entire team. The changes will be written into the Care Plan too.
Build trust with the professional in home Care Worker, without taking over their job. Building trust with Care Workers is important. Communicating with Care Workers helps to build trust and shows your appreciation. It is normal to want to make adjustments or suggestions as time goes on. But use caution. Avoid taking over the role of supervisor.
Respect the in home Care Worker’s professional and personal boundaries. Don’t put the professional Care Worker in the awkward position of having to say no to your ideas about in home care services. It is tempting to ask for personal information or favours. Respect the same boundaries you would in an office environment.
In home Care Workers can make mistakes. We all make mistakes. Should you correct a Care Worker if you see a mistake? Yes. Gently and with respect. If it is something more serious, defer to the in home care agency to handle the situation. A good relationship with a trusted Care Worker is worth protecting. Always keep that in mind.
You are at the heart of the caregiving team as your loved one is ageing in place and receiving in home care services. Be the best advocate you can for your parent or spouse. Respect the lines of communication, and you’ll have a stronger team.
Learn more about Home Care Assistance here.
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As a leading age care provider, Home Care Assistance offers tailored in-home care services for older Australians, enabling them to live happier and healthier lives in the comfort of their own homes.
We offer private and government subsidised Care Packages and have office locations that are a registered NDIS provider. Our Care Workers undergo extensive training in order to deliver unmatched in-home aged care services where people can continue ageing in place. We are proud ambassadors of the My Aged Care government funded aged care program, enabling Australians to successfully navigate the process and gain approval for in-home care support packages. Home Care Assistance offers hourly care, specialised care, Alzheimer’s and Dementia care, hospital to home care, and 24 hour in home care.