Home care professional caring for senior adult

How to Communicate with Home Care Professionals

Bethesda Health | July 9, 2020

Home care organizations provide a vital service in improving or maintaining the health of senior adults. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the professionals at these organizations have become even more important, reducing their senior patient’s chances for infection since they no longer have to leave their home for care.

It takes thought, planning and preparation on the part of the senior and (possibly) his or her family to make the most of a home care visit. Here are some considerations when preparing to communicate with home care staff members:

No: During the home care visit, don’t distract yourself with other tasks like preparing a meal, tending to a pet, or fidgeting with a radio or TV remote.

Yes: Identify a quiet time and place for the visit, so that you and the home care staff member can see, hear and understand each other and focus on the task at hand.

 

No: Don’t expect home care professionals to carry the entire conversation during the visit.

Yes: Prepare for the visit. Take notes between home care visits, and be prepared to discuss new or worsening symptoms, medication choices, treatments, or other questions or concerns. This is a dialogue. Remember, you and the home care professional are partners in this process.

 

No: Don’t be embarrassed if you do not understand something the home care staff member says or does during your visit.

Yes:  Ask questions until you are clear on what is being said. Unanswered questions can be dangerous if you leave them to chance. For example, make sure you are clear on how and when to take your medications.

 

No: Do not hide information from home care staff because it is of a sensitive nature or is embarrassing.  This includes any pain, emotional problems, unhealthy habits or other concerns.

Yes: Talk about what is happening with you. Many challenges—physical, emotional, cognitive, or sexual—can have a bearing on your health and should be shared. Remember, home care staff members are professionals who seek to fully understand your overall condition and how to respond to your needs. Sharing what you think the home care staff member wants to hear does not provide an accurate picture of your health.

 

No: Don’t skip details or make things sound better than the really are. What may seem a small matter to you, could have a great effect on your health.

Yes: Make sure the home care staff member is aware of any over-the-counter medication or supplements you have started taking (better yet, talk to home care or your physician before starting them). Also, consult with them if you want to begin a new exercise routine, or involve yourself in other physical activities.

 

No: Don’t rush the home care visit. The temptation may be to get through your list of questions without really listening to the answers.

Yes: Give the home care professional time to fully answer your questions or explain what she or he wants you to understand. Stick to one topic at a time. Summarize out loud what you believe you heard to confirm that you heard it correctly.

 

No: Don’t try to memorize the conversation.

Yes: Take notes or even record the visit. If you agree to involve a friend or relative in the visit, they can help by asking questions. They also can remind you of topics you wanted to discuss. After the visit, compare notes with them, to confirm what was said during the visit.

St. Andrews & Bethesda Home Health

In addition to observing all safety precautions while in the homes of senior adults, St. Andrews & Bethesda Home Health staff members are also increasing the number of phone consultations they conduct with patients and their families. The Home Health staff members are skilled in asking the right questions and can determine much about a patient’s condition via a phone visit, so keeping notes and a list of questions and topics of discussion handy is a good idea when the nurse calls.

By practicing good communication skills with home health staff, seniors are far more likely to maintain their health and wellbeing.

To discover more insights and tips, check out our Caregiver Tips on our blog.

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