You know the situation.
You get there, plug into the Care Book, decide what needs to be done and how to go about it. Quickly assess your plan of attack for the shift, and then get busy. All the while trying to engage your client, get to know them and communicate with them to assess any other needs they might have while you are there. Whether it is a long 6-8 hr shift, or the short 2 hours to clean the house top to bottom shift...it can be tricky the first time.
I always thank the client for allowing me into their homes first and foremost. For just trusting me enough to open their door (and their hearts!). Usually this is enough to break the ice.
But sometimes, even with the best intentions and communication, the relationship just doesn't have spark.
Maybe I woke them up from a nap, and they are crabby. Maybe they already have someone there working with them (physical therapy) and are distracted. Maybe they are in pain and don't feel well. A fight with a son or daughter is never good. This can upset their whole day. I can't take it personally. Maybe the fight was about ME and the fact they need a caregiver to help them out at home? Some things we just cannot foresee when we ring that doorbell. We never know the finer details of the situation when our services are needed, our agency is called and I am sent out to help.
I had one of those situations last week.
I wanted to share, because even though the new client and I didn't "click" and I didn't necessarily do anything "wrong," I've learned from the experience.
The personalities of our clients vary.
The angry bitter "I-don't-want-to-be-in-this-situation" clients...
The happy blissful "just-happy-to-have-you-here" ones (those are my favorites!)
The sad, "nothing-you-do-is-going-to-make-me-happy" ones...
Going into a new client's home with those types in mind can help me next time when I arrive for the first time. Each type will react differently to a new person on their care team.
Body language is huge. So are actions.
Note to self;
- When they leave the room while you are still talking...do not follow them. (We are NOT their moms)
- When they close their eyes in the middle of you sharing who you are and keep them closed...do NOT keep talking. (yes, this happened!)
- When they say they really don't want anything to eat, and you keep listing off other ideas of something to make for them for dinner...let it be. Or make something and put in the fridge for them to eat later. They won't eat what you fix them, and it will get cold.
- Even when they say they have no laundry in the laundry basket to be washed, check. 15 minutes before I left my shift I found a laundry basket in the extra bathroom...OOOPS!
- Never assume they already have a grocery list made out for meals. If you can't find it...make a new one. They might be "remembering" the list from last week.
I pride myself in being very observant. I also want to trust my clients and what they say, IS TRUE. But memories are weak, sight can be limited and the body weary. I have no idea what was going through this client's mind when I arrived. But I do know how to handle myself next time when presented with a similar situation.
My new client and I won't be getting to know each other more this week. He has moved on. But that's okay!
I now have NEW TOOLS in my toolbox for the next new client, and our first visit together.
Hope this helps someone else...