Managing Communications and Expectations
Clear communications is an important way to manage the care of children, elderly, ill or disabled clients. Having a disability or health challenge becomes all the more difficult when needs canâ€™t be communicated clearly or accurately. For you the caregiver, this means caring for a potentially frustrated client.
If you are caring for children, who need to understand instructions you give them for their safety and for whom you need to understand to respond to their needs, communication is also very important.
You need to be understood and so does your client.
Here are some tips to improve communication.
- Make sure you understand the method by which your client prefers to communicate (verbal, written, sign language, etc.). If youâ€™re unsure check with your supervising health care professional, family member or directly with the client.
- Make sure that you and the client are in agreement about the ways he or she will communicate important aspects of their care like bathroom needs, hunger, thirst and even social conversation.
- Listening is a skill that many healthy people arenâ€™t able to do well. Try to slow down and adjust your tone or approach if you notice your client or child isnâ€™t listening to you. You might also need to listen more carefully to your clients or charges. Stop what youâ€™re doing and look at your client. Sometimes people just need to have that eye contact to feel confident that you are listening to them.
Managing expectations is another area that needs your attention. Think how disappointed you are when you expect someone to do something for you and they neglect to do it. Perhaps from your perspective it is neglect, but what if that person had no idea they were â€œexpectedâ€ to do something for you? Do you see how poor communication can lead to misunderstood expectations?
To avoid this kind of situation in your work, be clear with your client (and their family if they are part of the picture) or your health care supervisor (if applicable) as to what is expected of you. You too must also explain what you expect of the client.
For example: Your client wants to be taken outside for a walk at 10 a.m. each day. This must be communicated to you so that you can plan your day accordingly. Letâ€™s say you have an important doctorâ€™s appointment at 2:00 p.m. and have arranged for another colleague to care for your client at that time. To avoid negative reactions to change you deem important, it would be wise to provide as much advance notice as possible. Discuss your proposed change of plans with the client and/or who ever needs to be informed of changes in the clientâ€™s care.
Communication is so often over looked or taken for granted. It is not easy to be clearly understood when there are different cultures, languages and emotional health care issues involved. The best way to manage everyoneâ€™s expectations is for all parties to be clear on intentions, actions, plans, feelings and concerns before care begins and throughout the process.