It is very difficult to maintain your boundaries when you are in a home-based situation and there are family members and other caregivers present. While in the process of finding the right caregiver, family members perform the necessary responsibilities. Then when the caregiver is hired, who does which responsibility? When boundaries are spelled out it becomes much easier to maintain them. This article spells out five things you can do to get the boundaries clear.
Maintaining Clear Boundaries Requires Getting your Responsibilities in Writing
Ask for a very specific list or work contract which spells out in detail what your professional responsibilities entail. A lot of times it takes starting out on the right foot to avoid stepping on other people's toes. In the process of working together in a home base situation it can often be more difficult. This is because there aren't specific professional boundaries that you find in traditional caregiving. Getting your responsibilities in writing will help everyone to understand what your role is and hopefully what their roles are in the home as well.
Many times it is easy to get territorial in a home-based situation. This is especially true of family members who have known this person for many years and love them. It is much easier to address the situation by bringing out your list or contract and reviewing it with them. Then asking them if there are some changes they would like to see made. Often times they don't realize that they are overstepping their boundaries or pushing you out. Reviewing the contract is a way which helps you to remain neutral in non-threatening review. What you are doing by simply referring back to your contract is asking for any reviews or changes that may need to happen.
During Your First Week Review your Responsibilities with the Eldercare Team
On your first day of entering the home to carry out your responsibilities; it is beneficial for you to take out your contract or list and review with the other caregivers and family members in the home. If they have issues or questions about your responsibilities at that point; refer them to the person who hired you. This will allow you to remain neutral, while they get a complete understanding from the person who hired you. Any changes you make should come directly from the person who hired you. It is their decision to make, no one else’s. Make sure you follow up with them and get any changes in writing. If there are caregivers who only come in a couple of days a week review responsibilities with each new person.
Keep your Duties in the Forefront of your Mind
Review and maintain your responsibilities often to ensure that you are not overstepping your bounds or neglecting what you should be doing. One way to ensure you are maintaining clear boundaries is to review your responsibilities regularly. I recommend daily for the first few weeks, then weekly for the next three, and finally monthly. Pick a specific date and put it on your calendar (15th off every month). The more you review them the better prepared you will be to carry them out.
Recognize Sometimes Boundaries Need to be Crossed
There are times when boundaries are crossed because there's so much going on that territory no longer matters. There can be times when a boundary should be crossed; it's okay if there is an emergency or if the older adult specifically asks for someone to do another person's responsibility. Every person who works in the home is part of the eldercare team. Establishing clear and fixed boundaries is important. However, it is not more important than ensuring that the older adult is taken well care of.
Ask for Help if you Need It
If necessary review with the person who hired you, family members, and other caregivers your responsibilities. Ask if changes need to be made or if you should continue on with your given duties.
Many times family members and other caregivers become territorial and also belligerent about carrying out specific duties. If this should occur then it becomes necessary for you to get the person who hired you involved. Under no circumstances should you become belligerent yourself.
The best way to deal with other's inappropriate behavior is to request the person who hired you to come and sit down with you and the other caregivers to clearly discuss what everyone's responsibilities are. Obviously this should be your last resort in getting these boundaries clear. Most times it will simply take a gentle reminder or questioning about responsibilities that will get people to back off. Though, there could also be times when a person just becomes downright aggressive about doing 'your' job. If this becomes the case use the person who hired you, as an advocate. You want to remain as professional as possible, not causing any problems for the person in your care.
Ultimately, maintaining clear boundaries is about you knowing exactly what you were hired to do. Then make sure that you do it in the best way you can. Be kind, be professional, and honor the family members and caregivers who are part of the eldercare team.