Caring for a client with cognitive impairment can be a rewarding experience, but it can also be challenging, especially when the client engages in inappropriate behaviour. As a caregiver, it’s important to understand how to cope with this difficult situation while protecting your emotional well-being.
Here are some actionable solutions that helped me during a recent, emotionally taxing placement that initially affected my ability to do my work effectively and without prejudice:
Understand the Situation
Working with clients who are experiencing a decline in mental function, can be demanding. It’s important to understand that their behaviour reflects this impairment, and more than often they may not be aware of the impact they are having, or the distress that is unintentionally created by their actions.
However, this does not excuse their behaviour, and it is essential to approach the situation with empathy, and to accentuate patience, understanding and compassion.
Setting boundaries is crucial and this will include letting the client know that their conduct is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Be firm and consistent in enforcing these boundaries and explain to the client that their behaviour makes you uncomfortable. Setting boundaries will help you maintain control of the situation and ensure that the client appreciates what is and isn’t acceptable.
These working conditions can be draining, and it’s important to seek support from colleagues, friends, or family members. In order to try and alleviate the stress and anxiety it is important to talk to someone you trust about how the work environment is affecting you.
Document the Behavior
Documenting the client’s behaviour can be helpful if you need to report it to a supervisor or authority. Keep a log of the incidents, including the date, time, and details of the behaviour. This can also help you keep track of any patterns or changes and help you remain objective should you need to provide evidence or escalate the situation.
Report the Behavior
If the behaviour persists or becomes more severe, it’s important to report it to a family member or supervisor. It may very well be that for the client each day is a clean slate but for the carer, the agonizing abuse lingers. As carers, we also have a moral obligation to forewarn others so that there is a ‘plan’ in place for dealing with these uncomfortable situations.
Protect Your Emotional Well-being
Dealing with inappropriate behaviour on a daily basis can be emotionally taxing. It’s important to take care of yourself and prioritize your emotional well-being. Take breaks when needed and engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation.
Make sure to practice self-care techniques such as meditation, exercise, or going out in nature to feel more balanced, relaxed, and rejuvenated.
Dealing with inappropriate from a cognitively impaired client can be complicated. However, by understanding the situation, setting boundaries, seeking support, documenting the behaviour, reporting the behaviour, and protecting your emotional well-being, you can cope with the situation while maintaining your own emotional health.
It’s important to remember that you are not alone, and there are resources available to help you through this difficult time.
- Let the client know that their behaviour is unacceptable and will not be tolerated
- Seek support from colleagues, friends, or family members
- Document the client’s behaviour
- Report the behaviour if it persists or becomes more severe
- Take breaks when needed and engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation
- Practice self-care techniques such as meditation, exercise, or spending time with loved ones