Personal support workers are with their clients through thick and thin, helping them to work through age-related disabilities or debilitating medical conditions. Being able to provide care and assistance to those clients is an extremely rewarding experience. But as with any healthcare profession, there are challenges in supporting others who are in a difficult situation.
You may encounter clients who resist your help, are extremely frustrated, or have trouble processing their condition. Many clients will also be on medications that alter their behaviour or emotional state. In those cases, your approach to the client will be important in diffusing conflict and helping your client to achieve a better quality of life. Here are some ways to handle difficult situations with your client as a personal support worker.
Patience Is Key
Patience should always be central to your approach as a personal support worker. However, when working through a difficult period with your client, patience is more important than ever. After completing your PSW course, remember that a client’s behaviour towards you isn’t personal. They may be dealing with challenges such as lack of mobility, the death of their loved ones, or chronic pain. In that case, it’s your job to act as a calm and compassionate presence in their lives.
Rather than getting frustrated with a client, focus on communicating with empathy. Acknowledge their situation, listen to their complaints and be open about how you can help. By adopting the right approach, you encourage your clients to reciprocate and develop a more productive way to work through conflict.
Communicate With Family & Staff
It may be the case that your client needs additional support or resources to improve their current situation. In that case, it might be time to discuss the problem with family members or other staff members. Often, caring for a client requires a whole team of people, and it’s important to recognize the limits of your abilities as a PSW.
During personal support worker training, you will learn how to work alongside other members of care and services teams, such as a Practical Nurse, Registered Nurse or Social Service Workers. Maintaining open lines of communication with family and staff can give you better insights into a client’s behaviour and help you arrive at more effective solutions to conflict.
Know When to Set Boundaries After Personal Support Worker Training
While the client is your priority, you also need to look out for your own well-being in order to perform your job to the best of your ability. No personal support worker deserves to be abused or mistreated by their client. Knowing where to draw the line for reasonable behaviour is key to building a more productive relationship for both you and the client.
As a PSW, focus on communicating clear boundaries with your clients. If a client is lashing out or resisting your help, explain how you are trying to help. Don’t be afraid to remove yourself from the situation and make it clear that you will not engage with them until they improve their response.
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