As a care-worker, you may sometimes find you don’t have the heart or courage to refuse a client something that goes beyond your job description. You’ll also likely encounter clients along the way with whom you form a particularly strong connection – and enforcing boundaries becomes harder when your relationship feels personal. After all, the nature of the work you do is very human and very personal.
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We love compassion and we strive to work with aged care and disability support workers who possess a significant amount of it. But remember - professional boundaries exist to protect both you and your client. It’s important to maintain these, even when the line between a professional and personal relationship feels blurry. If you’re wondering how to set boundaries as a care worker, read on. We have some useful advice for dealing with this common challenge of your profession.
Be firm about the number of hours of support you are there for and stick to it every time. Discuss this with them at the very start of your shift. You will have a contract that states a specific amount of time. If you go over these hours without official pre-approval, there is a chance that you won’t be paid for them.
If you have a client who attempts to make you stay longer than you are supposed to, always tell them when you arrive that you have X number of hours and ask them how they would like to use them. Make sure that you know how long any proposed activities will take. For example – if they want to go to a beach that will take half an hour each way to drive to and you are contracted for a one-hour visit, explain that you won’t have time.
Set rules before you go out anywhere. Eg – ‘we only have time to visit one friend and do a grocery shop’.
Do not lend clients money or buy them things, no matter how coercive they are. Make it a rule that before you go anywhere, you check that they have any cards or cash that they need with them. If your client can’t find these, explain that any shopping will need to wait for another day.
Don’t undertake car journeys that will cost you for fuel that you haven’t already accounted for in your hourly rate. There is no official obligation to repay you for petrol that isn’t contractually agreed on, so you may run into trouble when trying to invoice for it. You are only allowed to invoice for hours, not mileage!
Do not work unless you are being paid promptly. If you have an accumulation of shifts that haven’t been paid for yet, explain that you are unable to keep working for the client until your invoices are up to date.
Do not do ‘favours’ for clients that are beyond your job scope. Ensure that they understand and respect that you are only there to do specific things that are officially stated in your contract.
We understand that it can be difficult learning how to set boundaries as a care worker. Enforcing them when faced with a real situation, with a real client is hard. But never forget that you are providing a professional service and are entitled to have boundaries in place. Our support team at Careseekers is always happy to discuss any problems you may be having with clients and help to you manage them.
Become a care worker with Careseekers today and enjoy the freedom of choosing your own rates, shcedules and clients!
To become a care or support worker, please visit www.careseekers.com.au/carer
To find aged care services, please visit https://www.careseekers.com.au/services/aged-care-workers
To find disability support services, please visit https://www.careseekers.com.au/services/disability-support-workers