Whether you’re an OT, mental health nurse, social worker, psychologist, or any of the other professionals the social care sector encompasses, setting healthy boundaries in your work is vital.
They help maintain professional relationships, protect both yourself and your clients, and create safe and effective environments for care.
But what does setting healthy boundaries actually mean, and how do we do it in our daily work? In this blog post we’ll explore some strategies for setting and maintaining healthy boundaries in social care.
Read on to find out more.
What boundaries might look like for social care workers
In a social care context, boundaries are the limits we set around our time, energy, and emotional availability. They define what we will and won’t do in our role as a care worker, and what we expect from our clients in return.
These boundaries can be physical, such as not allowing clients to enter our personal space, or emotional, such as not allowing ourselves to become too emotionally invested in a client’s life.
Establish your boundaries as early as possible
One of the most important things when it comes to setting boundaries is to be clear and consistent from the beginning of the care relationship.
This means communicating our availability, expectations for communication, and discussing confidentiality and the limits of the care relationship.
For example, if you can’t be reached outside of scheduled appointments or have a particular way that you prefer to be contacted, it’s important to make that known to the client from the start.
This can help prevent misunderstandings and confusion down the line, and can also set a tone of respect and professionalism from the start.
Understanding your clients’ boundaries
Another key aspect of setting boundaries is understanding and respecting the boundaries of our clients.
This means actively listening to their concerns, questions, and requests and taking them into account when creating and maintaining a working relationship with them.
Showing empathy and understanding towards their feelings, and giving them a chance to express them goes a long way in being able to work together towards positive outcomes.
By being responsive to their needs, we can build trust and a positive working relationship.
The hardest of all: boundaries we set ourselves
Setting boundaries for ourselves is particularly important when it comes to self-care.
Caring for others can be emotionally demanding, so it’s essential to take care of ourselves so that we can be there for our clients.
This can include setting limits on our availability, taking time for self-care activities, and seeking support from colleagues or a therapist.
Regularly assess your boundaries
Another important point to consider is the power imbalance in the care relationship.
As care workers, we may have more power and knowledge than our clients, and this can be used to set boundaries that are not in the best interest of the client.
It’s important to be aware of these power imbalances and to make sure that we are not imposing our own desires or preferences on our clients.
This means working to understand the client’s needs, culture and background, and providing care that is client-centred and empowering to them.
Setting clear and consistent boundaries we regularly evaluate is a crucial practice for social care workers – not only to improve client outcomes, but also for a more sustainable career in the sector.
Be. Recruitment is a specialist recruitment partner for the health and social care sector. If you’re looking to take the next step in your social care career, get in touch for a confidential chat today: berecruitment.com.au/contact