Building and maintaining caregiver patient relationships can sometimes be difficult, especially when you’re a caregiver as caregivers perform close and personal tasks, and due to the nature of the relationship, particular challenges may arise. Therefore, participating in open and honest communication builds the foundation for a positive and healthy caregiver patient relationship. This article will discuss the importance of caregiver patient relationships, the challenges that may occur, the importance of communication between caregiver and patient, and provide tips on how to improve caregiver patient relationships.
What are caregiver patient relationships?
When an individual is diagnosed with a serious illness, they may require a family member or professional to assist as a caregiver. The caregiver patient relationship is a close and personal one where the caregiver pours their time, energy, love, care into the individual who requires assistance. Their duties may involve dropping the patient at appointments, assisting with small tasks around the house like cleaning, and providing general assistance with daily activities.
The importance of caregiver patient relationships
Being a caregiver means your relationship with your patient will have a significant impact on their quality of life. The relationship can provide a sense of purpose, identity, and autonomy to patients who feel useless or find themselves without work after their diagnosis. It is also beneficial to caregivers as they may experience benefits like increased self-worth, enhanced role within the family unit, reduced stress levels , and the ability to provide for their family.
The challenges in the relationship between caregivers and patients
Many challenges may arise within caregiver patient relationship, including but not limited to:
- Lack of reciprocity
- Role ambiguity
- Power dynamics between caregivers and patients
- Negative feelings towards treatments or procedures
- Lack of communication between caregiver and patient
- Lack of appreciation for the work performed by caregivers
- Missing social opportunities associated with work, recreation, or leisure activities
The importance of communication
To build a strong foundation between you, your family member, or your loved one, it is important to communicate openly.
Discussing fears between individuals allows both sides to feel vulnerable yet more connected. By taking the time to check in with each other, it allows the caregiver and patient to approach the conversation in a respectful and comfortable manner.
If a patient is no longer able to speak, it may be possible to communicate with them through writing or sign language. When communicating, ensure the environment has minimal distractions and noise so that you can focus on what’s being said.
If patients cannot verbally respond but they appear distressed, take note of their body language. For example, if they are shaking their heads in disagreement or covering their ears to block out noise, it is important for caregivers and patients alike to respect the other individual’s wishes.
Tips on how to improve caregiver patient relationships
Here some tips on ways to improve caregiver patient relationships:
- Consider the other person’s perspective and how they may feel.
- Be flexible with plans as patients who are ill may require more time to rest or recover than expected, so be prepared for unexpected delays.
- Exercise patience and understand that working on your relationship is a process that requires trial and error to work out the kinks.
- Do not take it personally when your patient snaps at you, they may be upset about their illness and take this anger out on a safe target which is usually the caregiver.
- Be willing to try new things, even if you are unsure how it will work out for the best.
- Be open to receiving help from outside sources – care types such as palliative care can be significant and may require additional resources.
- Ensure you can take time out for yourself and others in your life so that you do not become overwhelmed by your responsibilities.
Caregiver patient relationships can be rich and fulfilling for both parties as long as there is clear communication, an understanding of the needs of each other, and a sense of autonomy. This will strengthen your relationship as you’re both comfortable expressing your needs and can avoid misunderstandings to prevent burnout. By working together to maintain these important bonds you will continue to provide great care for your loved one or family member.