An Aged-Care Worker's Guide to Meeting New Clients
Hopefully too, you can put your Client at ease - remember, they will be Nervous Nellies too.
So seize that small window of time and make it really count. Although take note: if your client suffers from memory loss issues, you may be doing these steps all over again - and again - and again......every time you visit them.
Nip it in the bud kinda thing. What have you got to lose?
2. Use formal address
Or if you are unsure of their marital status (you will come across the odd hard-nut spinster out there who’s never married but who will soon let you know if you dare assume she’s a Missus) - in this case, it’s best to opt for the full name approach
For example: “Hello... Marjorie Brown, is it?”
I will never forget standing outside Mrs Gina Kantezkantopituolos’s front steps in a cold sweat at the thought of insulting her by stuffing up her name and having her hate me forever. She told me later that she’d actually appreciated me having a crack (as feeble as it was) as most people never even tried.
Usually she was known as ‘Mrs K’ anyway, "for efficiency's sake", she said. Gina and I however, eventually got on so fabulously that she insisted I call her by her first name.
Phew, problem solved.
So to avoid confusion or client embarrassment it is vital that you clearly state your name, rank and serial number when you meet for the first time. That is before you launch into your work.
Also, say where you are from and what you intend to do to them! There is nothing worse than arriving with your bucket and mop to do a Home Care duty only to discover your client has since stripped off down to her petticoat in anticipation of having a wound dressing changed by what she thought was the District Nurse instead.
You’ve got several logical explanations:
- your client is deaf (the rational and most common one)
- your client is foreign and their English isn’t flash
- your client is unwell
- your client is cranky and in a very, very, very bad mood (is it too late to run away?)
Use hand actions if you need to and don’t be afraid to yell. I can spend entire days bellowing at elderly clients who have hearing issues only to get home at the end of the day and continue the trend with my family...aren't they lucky!
But if you're really struggling to find something nice to say about your client, then admire the lovely photo of their grandchildren, the beautifully manicured lawn or the fabulous blooms on the camelia bush.
Who knows, you might even CARE for goodness sake!
- Mum only likes using the pink towels… never the green ones as they were Dad’s towels and she will get upset if you try and use them for her shower.
- When you take Uncle Reg on his walk to the library… he loves going via the paddock so he can say hello to the horses on the way. He needs to stick to this routine or he will get quite moody and then we will ALL pay later tonight!!
I’ve broken down many a barrier by patting the mangiest of dogs, admired ugly, weepy-eyed cats and even whistled at the odd tatty budgie in its cage. Fake it til you make it, don’t they say?
It’s definitely worth it in the end, so do whatever it takes - scratch flea-bitten ‘ol Yella behind the ears, win over the confidence of your brand new judgmental client… and disinfect yourself in the car later!
Speaking yes, but also – listening.
So when you’ve rattled off your initial intro, make sure you take the time to hear what your new client has to say in response. And if their speech is slow or they are struggling to get words out (for whatever reason) DON’T be tempted to talk over them or pre-empt their sentences.
So keep up the fabulous work, maintain pride in what you are doing, listen to your inner voice and GOD HELP YOU NOW...