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Establishing Trust in a Caregiver-Patient Relationship: The Importance of Trust

When you go into a doctor’s office, the doctor often asks “how are you?” Not necessarily health-wise, but just in general. The doctor might not genuinely care if you’re having a good or a bad day. But a major part of being a doctor or any health care worker is establishing a good rapport with patients. In that initial contact and thereafter, your doctor needs to ensure trust is established and maintained. The same concern for trust and a good rapport is needed for a healthy relationship between caregiver and patient.

Not only that, but the same should be extended towards the family and loved ones of the patient. Often times, caregivers have to interact with the families and loved ones of the patients on a regular basis. Consequently, trust is needed there too. The relationship is different, but still requires a basis of trust.

Female doctor smiling at patient
Source: unknown

In what ways can you build trust between you and your patient?

Credibility is a good place to start. If you go to an emergency room and find that your doctor isn’t licensed, then chances are you might take your illness and leave. A doctor needs to be able to instill confidence in his patients and one way to do that is through credibility. Likewise, as a caregiver, if necessary, you need to be licensed. Your credibility as a caregiver makes that first impression that will initiate the trust of your patient in you.

Stamped of license in bold red
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If you’re not required to be licensed, demonstrate your credibility through your experience as a caregiver or your knowledge of home health care. Make sure that your actions don’t convey incompetence. Act with confidence. If you seem to doubt yourself and your expertise, then so will your patient and you don’t want that.

Be punctual and reliable. One of the worst things you can be in any aspect of life is tardy and unreliable. As a caregiver, you want to ensure that your patients feel as though they can depend on you. They need to have confidence that you’ll be on time and that you’ll answer when they call. If you must be late, notify your client in a timely manner. This suggests that you’re respectful of their time and needs.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T –Aretha Franklin said it best. The easiest way to create dissension in any given situation is to be disrespectful. Suffice it to say, you want to be respectful of your patients and their families. Respect by definition is to be thoughtful and courteous. Be respectful of your patient’s time. Be respectful of their feelings. Be respectful of their needs and wants. Be respectful of their space. And be respectful of their traditions and beliefs.

Hands holding up colored letters to spell  RESPECT
Source: Getty Images

Communicate with your patient. Communication is a two-way street that requires you to be attentive to oncoming and on-going traffic. As much as you speak, you should listen. Many seniors tend to feel belittled because their needs and wants are unobserved. Ensure that your patient feels safe with you. You can do this by paying attention to what they say and what they don’t say.

Make sure to pay close attention to what is not said. 70% of communication is non-verbal. So observe your patient carefully and you'll learn even quicker what they want and what they need and how those may coincide or not.

With these 4 tips, you should be able to establish and maintain a good and trusting relationship with your patient and family. Trust is personalized through ongoing interactions, so it will not be a one-and-done thing. Keep at it, so as to maintain that trust.

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