6 tips for building relationships with care home residents

Building relationships is important for many reasons. It’s great for our mental health and can have physical benefits too. So, for care home residents, having a social life is vital for overall wellbeing.

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6 tips for building relationships with care home residents

Building relationships is important for many reasons. It’s great for our mental health and can have physical benefits too. So, for care home residents, having a social life is vital for overall wellbeing. Healthy friendships may increase happiness and reduce stress, providing a wealth of potential health benefits like improved immune and digestive systems. But it also means residents experience less loneliness, which leads to increased self-confidence and self-worth. Having a better sense of belonging and purpose is empowering and can motivate people to take on more responsibility or positive risks.

In addition to visits from relatives or friends and seeing other individuals living at the home, developing professional relationships with care workers can have a huge positive impact. In some cases the people you care for won’t have anyone else, meaning you are their main source of social interaction. Having strong relationships in the workplace will enhance your service and help you provide better levels of care. When a good level of trust has been established, it helps residents feel safer, and more inclined to open up and express themselves so you can really get to know them.

Here are six tips to help you build relationships with your residents.

1. Small gestures

Residents should feel at home and part of a community. You can help the people in your care achieve this by letting them know you’re always available if they need to talk. You should aim to build bonds at every opportunity including engaging with residents outside of designated times. Even simple gestures like making small talk can enrich their day. Being an active member of the community allows others to form an opinion of you quicker and demonstrates that you value spending time together.

Ensuring your residents have choices in their day-to-day care is another small gesture that significantly helps maintain dignity and independence. For example, letting someone decide where they would like to sit and talk as you carry out a care assessment. If you choose the room yourself, just be wary of the environment you’re working in – whether it’s a private room or communal space can have an impact. Noisy rooms can hinder your ability to verbally communicate and concentrate, or don’t offer the privacy necessary to discuss confidential information or sensitive feelings. You can still give the resident a voice by asking if they are happy to talk in the space provided.

2. Active listening

Listening is a fundamental component of good communication. But there’s a big difference in simply being present and actively listening when someone is speaking to you. Actively listening to what a resident is saying helps you pick up on subtleties and respond accordingly to explore a subject in depth. Encourage your residents to expand on their thoughts and to give you as much detail as possible by asking relevant questions and using non-verbal communication to express interest and empathy.

Active listening is an incredibly useful skill to develop and showing that you understand your residents’ unique situations is a fantastic relationship building technique. Pay close attention to what is being said and remember to record important details in case the subject comes up again. If it seems like you weren’t listening, you could damage their trust.

3. Ask questions

The way in which we ask questions can impact answers, discussions and affect how quickly we grow a connection with someone. Knowing the difference between open and closed-ended questions will help ensure you ask the right sorts of questions at the right time. Open-ended questions allow you to build a conversation and explore a subject deeper, whereas closed-ended questions incite a set response and potentially stops momentum. When open-ended questions are incorporated into casual conversation, it’s easier to bounce off each other and opens up the floor for new details to emerge that might assist you with a resident’s care.

However, although open-ended questions are better for getting to know someone, closed-ended questions have their place. If the opportunity arises and you feel comfortable, try to take an interest in your residents’ lives by asking personal questions. Closed-ended questions are less invasive but still demonstrate that you’re interested. For example, ‘what did you do for a living?’ and ‘how did you enjoy it?’ aren’t particularly private topics but they create an opportunity to ask open-ended questions if the resident enjoys speaking about this subject. A follow-up open-ended question could be ‘what were your colleagues like?’

4. Work towards goals together

Teamwork is a powerful motivator and one of the best relationship building techniques. Your residents shouldn’t have to feel like they are alone as they navigate through different challenges. Work together to find activities or exercises that can help your residents get to where they want to be and support them every step of the way. Create person-centred care plans to record objectives, risks and plans of action.

Achieving a goal, no matter how small should be celebrated! Try not to push too hard or you could set your residents up for failure. But even if it takes longer than you expected to reach the goal, remember that every new obstacle will strengthen your relationship as you get to learn more about their abilities and strengths. If you show you’re invested in your residents, they should meet you with similar levels of enthusiasm.

5. Check understanding

Giving clear information is always appreciated no matter who you are speaking to. But for residents especially, understanding and feeling connected to the support and care you provide can help them gain the confidence to open up about themselves and trust you to help. Confusion or misunderstandings could have serious implications, for example, the wrong medication being taken. Ensure the individual feels confident before your meeting comes to an end by asking them if they have any questions. If someone struggles to understand, try repeating and rephrasing what you said in a different more relatable way. Or if they prefer to learn visually, consider other methods of effective communication, for example, diagrams or drawings.

6. Find a winning routine

As you learn about your residents you can make more informed decisions about their care. Respecting each person’s unique needs generates instant trust and will help them feel more comfortable throughout the day and ultimately more satisfied with their lifestyle. Understanding residents’ likes, dislikes and personalities and how this all fits in to the service you provide is a rewarding way to build and maintain a relationship.

Recording a resident’s preferences and moods is essential to evidence what works well and what didn’t work, and so other care workers meeting a resident for the first time can start their relationships on the right path. Documenting a resident’s preferences may include writing down how they like to be addressed, what interests they have, their routine and any notes detailing how a resident chooses to communicate. This is a person-centred approach to care, which has benefits for all parties and demonstrates effective levels of care for routine inspections.

Trust the process

It takes time and patience to create a strong connection with someone else. Everybody is unique in how they respond and trust and should be treated based on individual needs. However, building relationships in care mainly revolves around having good communication skills and providing person-centred care. The more you get to know someone, the better care you can provide and the stronger your relationship comes.

For more information about CareDocs and how we can help you increase communication and person-centred care throughout your business, please get in touch today to learn more. Call us on 0330 056 3333 or email on sales@caredocs.co.uk.

If you’re an existing customer and would like assistance using the features mentioned above, please contact support@caredocs.co.uk.

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Originally published on August 31, 2021
Article updated on October 25, 2021

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