Personal Support Worker

Communicating With Senior Clients: A Guide for Students at PSW College

April 02, 2018

personal support worker with a patient

When it comes to becoming a trusted and positive presence in the lives of seniors, many graduates of PSW college find that conversation is one of the most effective tools to use. Being able to communicate clearly and compassionately with clients, many of whom many have mental or physical disabilities, is a soft skill that can be vital in building trust and connection.

Below, we’ve put together a list of some of the best approaches to take when communicating with older clients once you become a PSW.

Grads of a PSW Course Should Offer an Element of Choice While Communicating

Often, an individual who is receiving care may be in possession of diminishing facilities. They may be struggling with issues ranging from physical disabilities to physical pain, mental decline, and more. Often, it can seem like the control they once had over their life is ebbing away. To help these clients feel empowered, graduates of a PSW course can introduce choices in their communication and interactions.

personal support worker working with a patient

Allowing space for choices and preferences is vital in supporting later-life independence

For example, offering a range of options in terms of food, outing locations, or clothing choices can help an individual maintain a sense of control in their daily life. Even in scenarios where practical concerns mean that choices are limited, giving clients some degree of control can help them feel empowered. This can have a hugely positive effect on older individuals, who will view their interactions with you as far more collaborative, rather than command-based.

For Certain Clients, Keeping It Simple Is the Best Course of Action

After graduating from PSW college, those providing care will likely encounter a range of clients who will have difficulty communicating. For clients with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other illnesses, the presentation of numerous choices or more complex conversational topics might not be practical. Rather than empowering clients, choices and complex topics might feel stressful or frustrating.

An effective PSW will recognize the capacities of each of their clients, and make sure that those individuals who might have difficulty engaging in these kinds of interactions are not forced to. A PSW can instead seek to match interactions to their client’s comfort level—focussing on a single topic at a time, being physically present and attentive, and using simple and clear language.

Grads of PSW College Should Remember Diversity and Differing Life Experiences

When a PSW assists a senior client, they are helping an individual with extensive life experience and a complex back story. To help ensure that each of your clients feels heard, respected, and included, it’s important to know and respect their religious, cultural, and personal preferences. In this regard, PSWs should look out for any dietary preferences, religious concerns, or other points as they deliver the care that the individual needs. Respecting a client’s desire to say grace before eating, consume Kosher meals, or avoid meat in their diet helps to personalize care and ensure that each client you encounter feels respected and cared for.

Do you want to build a career providing compassionate care for seniors?

Contact Medix College today to learn how personal support worker school could be a great choice for you.

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