In the beginning of a Guardianship, when we are busy learning all the little nuances about a client, it’s easy to see the world with fresh eyes. After all, they’re a new client, and their world is completely unknown to us.
Once we have been the Guardian of a client for an extended period of time, for years or even decades, and we’ve helped to stabilize that client’s situation, it can be easy to grow complacent during visits and interactions.
Additionally, if we have other clients in the same building who may need more attention, it can be easy to rush visits with the more stable client.
During times like these, we can find ourselves just going through the motions with a stable, long-standing client. It is during these times that we like to try new things and take the road less traveled. That is, we like to do things we don’t normally do, giving us the opportunity to observe little things, both good and bad, in the client’s world.
By trying something new, we are able to learn more about the client’s quality of care and their living environment, allowing us to become aware of any potential issues before they arise. Furthermore, it allows us to get to know more about our clients and their needs so that we can provide the best support for their care.
Here are a few things we like to try, when we find ourselves going through the motions:
1. Visit During Off Hours: Go to the facility very early, very late, or even on a weekend. Visiting during non-peak hours allows you to see how the facility and staff operate the rest of the time and can reveal what your client is dealing with.
2. Use a Different Door to Enter / Exit: Try entering or leaving the facility a different way than how you came in. You could discover something new about the facility that you didn’t know.
3. Talk to Maintenance Staff: Find the maintenance staff and have a conversation. See if they have anything they need a solution or idea for.
4. Use the Facilities: Use a guest bathroom in the building, or even the client’s bathroom in their room.
5. Have a Meal: Visit the facility during meal time, pay the meal fee, and have lunch at your client’s table. You’re guaranteed to learn a lot about your client, their eating habits, their social skills, and the facility’s food service. And, if you can’t eat the food, why should your client have to?
6. Test Equipment: While in your client’s room, turn on the TV and change channels; if the bed moves, raise and lower it; turn on the A/C, any fans, and the heater. Test any equipment you can find to learn what the staff struggles with when they try to help the client use these devices.
7. Test the Client’s Items: Sit on the bed, roll around in the client’s wheel chair, push their walker, try the phone, use their restroom. Again, try to do the things that your client does regularly to determine what’s working well and what’s not.
8. Hang Out: Sit in their room and talk with your client. As you do, pay attention to the outside noise level. This works particularly well when coupled with an off-hours visit. Does it get real noisy outside your client’s room at mealtimes or other times? Could this be impacting the client?
9. Bring a Mentoring Guardian for a Visit: If you know a new guardian, bring them along for a visit with your client. Then, try to see the facility and your client through this new guardian’s eyes.
10. Attend Activities: Try attending an activities session with your client. What do they have them do? How does your client react? What do you learn about your client’s interests?
11. Visit with Client’s Family: Schedule a visit when you know the family or friends are going to be visiting. Monitor their interactions and the client’s reactions to the visit.
12. Meet Facility Staff: Meet with the Business Office Manager (BOM), the staff who file the insurance claims, or the AR staff. Try to meet other staff who you may not regularly talk to or interact with. (Or vice versa, try to put faces to the names you hear on phone calls.)
13. Connect With Care Staff: Meet the staff who provide care for the clients at the facility. They have a VERY tough job. Ask what can be done to make things easier for them. You might be surprised by the answers.
14. Go For a Walk: Take your client on a stroll outside and help them reminisce. This not only allows for them to get a little sun on their skin (something that’s good for all of us), but the conversation can also give you a wealth of information about the client.
15. Reflect on Past Visits: Think about what you do and what you look for during normal visits. What can you do differently? What can you do to make your visit more effective?
These are just a few of the ways we try to stave off complacency so that we are always looking at a client with fresh eyes, whether they’re a brand new client, or a client we’ve known for a decade or more.
Do you have any tricks to help combat falling into a routine during visits?
This blog is shared by Theresa Barton, the expert behind The Guardian Network with more than 25 years of experience in the field of Elder Advocacy, Care Management and Guardianship. Learn more about Theresa’s work and resources for families, caregivers and health, support and legal professionals here.
Connect with The Guardian Network:
Join The Guardian Network Facebook Community here!
Follow The Guardian Network on Pinterest here.