What distance should be kept between a caregiver and the patient ?
Why should a caregiver keep a distance from who they're caring for?
From professional to patient
A patient is not a friend or a member of your family, inthe same way that a caregiver can't play the role of a confidant or relative for a patient. The patient's emotional and mental balance as well as your own depend on it.
Why does a surgeon generally refuse to operate on a member of their family? Because the emotional involvement is too much and can lead to errors of judgment. The situation is similar for caregivers. You meet with sick people or young mothers for a few days to several weeks. Even if you feel sympathetic towards them, keeping a distance allows you to establish a relationship of trust and better patient care.
Essential qualities in a caregiver
This facet of the caregiver profession is tough. It involves emotions and feelings that are often difficult to control. As the days go by, you sometimes unwittingly get drawn into patients' private lives.
Conversely, the opposite extreme can also interfere with accomplishing your tasks smoothly. A cold attitude, devoid of empathy, or even signs of sympathy, doesn't provide a reassuring framework for the patient who needs to know that they can count on you.
Finding the right balance in the relationship with your patients and redirecting the situation if it's going in the wrong direction will make you a quality caregiver.
You'll also improve your quality of life. You'll be less stressed and will be able to get the rest and freedom of mind essential for jobs where people are central to everything.
Are there any tips for establishing a good relationship between a caregiver and patient?
Adaptability is the key
Your adaptability and your ability to judge the different contexts you encounter in your day-to-day life will enable you to establish a good relationship with your patients.
Instinctively, you might feel close to someone who is going through a situation you have been through or who reminds you of a family member.
You may sometimes tend to be more sensitive, if it's a neonatal unit or the opposite if it's palliative care. Your strength of character will save you from a lot of the more upsetting situations.
Top rules for a good balance in caregiver involvement
Here are 4 tips for maintaining a quality caregiver/patient relationship and thriving in your profession:
- Always behave respectfully to increase your patient's trust in you (respect their privacy, use the right vocabulary and always maintain a professional tone, etc.)
- Listen while maintaining your professional distance. Never refuse to discuss anything out of fear of sympathising with your patient. Listen attentively while identifying any signals that may show that your relationship is moving away from a purely professional standpoint
- Manage your emotions so you don't affect the patient. Keeping the intensity of your feelings in check means you can continue to accomplish your tasks in a consistent manner that doesn't impact the patient
- Stick to the strict medical context requiring you to be there. The psychological aspect of your patient's condition exceeds the scope of your role, never forget that
By respecting these rules, you'll be operating in a healthier environment which will preserve your own emotional balance while adapting to serve the patient's specific needs.