Inviting a stranger into the home to provide live-in care can be daunting. Where do you start to build a comfortable relationship between carer and person receiving care?
Once your loved one has made the brave decision to welcome a live-in carer into their home, so much of their experience will rest on the relationship they are able to cultivate with them. That’s why taking some time to get to know them can be hugely beneficial.
Experience tells us that carers need to show qualities such as empathy, kindness, patience and respect, and that every successful candidate is an exceptional communicator. A good care organisation will take the time to look for these qualities in candidates, and all care recipients in their families can do the same.
Even if we’re sure that the carer and recipient are a good match, the relationship is still an unusual one, and needs to be nurtured. To function well it has to be both professional and functional. How the two individuals interact from the beginning is important. These four questions to ask the carer can help build a lasting trust.
1. Why did you start working in care?
When anyone accepts someone into their house to look after them and spend so much time with them, they are having to place trust in the carer’s character as well as their professionalism. Knowing what led them to pursue a career in care will help understand who they are, and asking this question could lead to hearing their stories about the tragedies and triumphs of those they have cared for, which could make it easier to share in turn.
2. What are you passionate about?
Finding common interests is a vital component of any friendly relationship, and while the two will inevitably build some new ones through being around one another so much, it’s even better if, for instance, they both happen to be big cricket fans. Both will definitely want to have as much to talk about as possible, as they’ll soon exhaust a lot of conversational topics! Each finding out what the other cares about will also make it easier for them to relate on a personal level.
3. How do you get through difficult times?
Needing care puts someone in an extremely vulnerable position – one that is further complicated by the myriad effects of ill health and loneliness. This makes miscommunication a very dangerous thing indeed. No matter how good a relationship two people have, awkward moments are unavoidable when they spend almost every day together.
As your carer opens up, they will start to show that they too are vulnerable, as we all are. The more the care recipient knows about the coping mechanisms that work for their carer, the better they will be able to understand and support them when something is getting the carer down. The carer will appreciate this enormously, and everyone may well find the occasional role reversal rewarding!
4. How can I make it easier for you to help me?
This is a very complicated question, but an extremely useful one – even more useful than the others. Simply asking it will communicate to the carer that the person they are looking after understands the challenges of their role and wants to play a part in making the relationship as smooth as possible. What’s more, the carer may indeed have some particular suggestions or requests.
Perhaps the carer worries that the care recipient won’t speak up if they’re unsatisfied with their work, and it would help them to know that everyone will feel comfortable addressing any issues instead of suffering in silence. One never knows what might help until one asks.
Why it works
These questions are all the more worthwhile because no one receiving care is obliged to ask them, as they constitute a kind gesture. No carer, no matter how diligent, dedicated and professional, is immune to exhaustion, sadness or loss of motivation.
Even if they don’t let such things show, they could affect their work without them even knowing. By recognising their needs and their humanity, the care recipient can increase the bond, make themselves more comfortable around the carer, and make it so much easier for the carer to focus on what matters to them more than anything – caring as well as they possibly can.