If you have a caregiver, you already know how valuable he or she is to your continued well-being and independence. Caregivers provide valuable services such as assisting with cooking and cleaning, providing transportation to and from doctor visits, and even performing grocery shopping. Yet, if you have a special need that needs particular attention, it is important to be able to effectively and clearly communicate with your caregiver. Here are a few things to keep in mind in order to ensure you are communicating well.
Trust is essential to good communication
If your caregiver does not trust that you will treat him or her fairly, he or she may not feel comfortable being open to you. This will hamper communication to you from your caregiver, and it can also reduce the effectiveness of communication to your caregiver.
Your caregiver needs to know that you are trustworthy. An added benefit of this is that he or she will have higher morale and will actually be a more effective employee than someone who lacks the crucial element of trust.
Establish trust by being true to your word. An excellent way to achieve this is to spell out your expectations.
Spell out expectations
One of the fastest ways to crush the morale of your employees—and a caregiver is an employee—is to expect them to do things that they were never told about. Even worse are the employers who will reprimand an employee for failing to perform a task which they were never aware they were supposed to perform in the first place.
Be clear with your caregiver about the things you expect him or her to do. Likewise, if he or she is not to do something, be sure that he or she knows this at the outset. This will avoid confusion and unhappiness down the road and establish a relationship of trust.
Do not assume anything
If your caregiver feels that you are making assumptions about his or her situation, abilities, or thought processes, he or she will eventually begin to resent this. Assuming robs your caregiver of the opportunity to explain things to you and can lead to serious misunderstandings.
If you have a question about your caregiver, just ask. It is entirely possible that your caregiver wants to discuss a matter with you, but is unsure as to how to begin the conversation. Asking him or her will open the door to the conversation and help facilitate a meaningful dialogue.
Practice the art of listening
Listen to your caregiver, especially when you have asked a question or expressed a concern. When your caregiver is reporting an incident of the day or explaining a situation that is arising with the person in his or her care, listening carefully is important. Don’t solve the wrong problems! Likewise, don’t ignore incipient problems your caregiver is trying to let you know about. Make sure you grasp any issues by listening to your caregiver.
Be aware of nonverbal cues
…you should be alert for nonverbal body language such as frowning, fidgeting, or even combative body language such as standing with his or her arms crossed.
You probably know that communication involves many more things than simply speaking and listening. When you are talking with your caregiver, you should be alert for nonverbal body language such as frowning, fidgeting, or even combative body language such as standing with his or her arms crossed. These things can help you to determine your caregiver’s state of mind. Knowing how he or she is doing will help you to determine what is the best time to communicate certain matters. For example, if your caregiver is obviously having a bad day, it may not be the best time to bring up your decision to ask him or her to start working later.
Preparation is important
If you need to have an important conversation with your caregiver—such as changing his or her duties, conducting an annual review, and so on—one thing to consider is writing out your planned talking points before you have the conversation.
Preparing for the conversation before it happens will help you to ensure that you don’t forget anything important. It will also help you to keep from wandering off topic, and will provide you with a way of keeping the conversation moving along to the next relevant topic.
Communication is one of the most important factors in a successful relationship. You should strive to have excellent communication with your caregiver both for your sake and for the sake of your caregiver’s morale. Keeping these tips in mind should help you to avoid misunderstanding and confusion.
Schwartz Center, The. Communication and Patient Preparedness. Available at http://www.theschwartzcenter.org/partnering-with-patients/patient-family-resources/communication-patient-preparedness/. Last visited January 2, 2016.
www.homecarepulse.com (website). 5 Steps to Better Communication with Your Caregivers. Available at http://www.homecarepulse.com/articles/5-steps-communication-caregivers/. Last visited January 2, 2016.