Trust is important for any relationship to work, and this especially holds true in Disability Support. Good rapport and confidence help cultivate successful working relationships. Support Workers need to help make our Members feel at ease when relating to them. It is also recommended to establish professional boundaries in Disability Support Work.
Setting clear professional boundaries is key to help build a successful and ethical relationship between our member and the Support Worker. It defines roles and helps prevent any misunderstanding. If you need tips on helping to maintain professional boundaries in Disability Support Work, here’s an article to guide you.
What are Professional Boundaries?
Professional boundaries include a set of guidelines and expectations that emphasise the legal, ethical, and organisational standards in a work environment, this includes a Member’s home. One of the main objectives of helping to maintain professional boundaries is creating an acceptable, effective, and safe relationship between the Support Worker and the client.
So, how would you know if professional boundaries in Disability Support Work are crossed? Here are some of the signs that you need to keep in mind:
Signs that Professional Boundaries May Have Been Crossed
- Conversations include personal, marital, and financial problems
- Interactions happen even outside of the work schedule
- Money or expensive items are given as gifts
- One views the other as a “friend”
- Disclosing Member details
- Emotional attachment
- Sexual attraction
Why You Must Set Professional Boundaries in Disability Support Work
- Preventing unreasonable demands from the Members or his/her family
- Reducing stress and the risk of burnout
- Maintaining objective support
- Preventing distress due to relationship tension
- Preventing the feelings of grief and loss once the engagement is over
5 Tips to Maintain Professional Boundaries in Disability Support Work
1. Maintain respect and privacy
It is important to avoid seeking personal information that is not essential in the working relationship or in the performance of duties. Conversations involving private matters are not encouraged to clearly define the boundaries of your relationship. In cases when confidential matters need to be discussed, a Support Worker should approachin the most appropriate, respectful, and professional manner.
2. Stick to Duty of Care
Support Workers should stick to their duty of care—to help protect the client from risks of injury or harm. While being knowledgeable about their disability and living situation is essential, any unnecessary advice regarding their family, relationship, and financial status must be avoided. This will help maintain professional communication .
3. Prevent conflicts of interests
Moreover, it is recommended to avoid playing the role of a “friend” with the client to prevent conflicts of interest at work. The focus of a Support Worker is to help build and strengthen the social, family, and community network of the person with a disability. Therefore, a Support Worker can help enable the client to build circles of friends through their support.
4. Set professional limits.
Support Workers should not be in a relationship with the family members of the client. In addition, they should not also be included in social or family activities. One must practice care in setting professional limits to avoid blurring ethical boundaries.
5. Discourage gifting.
While it may be customary for people to offer gifts as a sign of gratitude, when it comes to Disability Support Work, this should be done with caution. As such, money and expensive presents should be politely declined. What’s more, Support Workers must convey a polite and clear message that while they appreciate the thoughtfulness, they are focused on completing jobs and tasks which fall within their scope of work.
ALSO READ: How to Build a Great Team of Support Workers
Professional boundaries involve complexities and are often debatable as they involve personal values. However, in a relationship between a Support Worker and a person with a disability, ethical we recommend professional practices are followed at all times. This will help avoid conflicts and support a person with a disability to keep striving to achieve their goals.
Living My Way has been providing professional Disability Support Services since 1992. Our Support Workers have been trained to assist persons with disabilities to be independent and successful in living self-directed lives. Learn more about our services by sending us a message today.