Boundaries in Support Work

Being a Social Carer can mean that you are involved in personal situations with members and their friends or family. Private or confidential information could be shared with you while you are a support worker and you may also be in scenarios where you are confronted with requests or conditions for support that are not suitable or appropriate within the context of being a support worker.

 

Ethics:

It is very important that as Social Carers we have a sound ethical framework to understand how we can best protect the rights of individuals who have disabilities or who may be vulnerable. Some members may have limited ability to communicate their concerns or complaints. Members may also be unaware that their behaviour and expectations place demands on Social Carers to do things that are not appropriate. For these reasons, ethical guidelines are important in providing a safe and clear working environment for Social Carers to provide effective and goal-directed support. They also ensure that Social Carers providing support have adequate training, skills and knowledge to provide the support that is needed.

 

Privacy & Confidentiality:

All members have a right to privacy of their personal information, and Social Carers should not ask about information that is not relevant or necessary to the tasks at hand. Social Carers also have the right to privacy.  Sensitive information received by Social Carers must be confidential, unless they have the written or verbal consent of the member or their legal guardian. Social carers must not reveal confidential information without permission - Social Carers may need to discuss matters with the Like Family Customer Experience team but this should always be done in a respectful way. 

 

Friendships:

The role of a Social Carer is to support and reinforce the existing family, social and community network of the member. The role of a friendship is different from that of a Social Carer and can constitute a conflict of interest while doing your job. Unprofessional relationships with members and their family members can lead to risks in blurring the boundaries of your professional relationship. Risks can include: 

- Unreasonable expectations from the member, family of the member or Social Carer

- Lack of ability to give objective and professional support

- Difficulty maintaining boundaries when it comes to personal life

- Grief and loss for members when Social Carers leave 

 

Gifts:

Members may offer gifts to Social Carers as a gesture of appreciation for support given. We may not want to refuse a small gift and cause offence. However, accepting gifts should always be carefully considered, especially gifts of expensive items or money. Gifts should of course never be solicited or requested. 

 

Setting boundaries: 

It is important to discuss your role with the member before you commence support.  Keep your own family and personal life private and separate to your work – be careful about self-disclosure, inviting members into your home and providing too much personal information about yourself as this can cross professional boundaries. Also, don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it – support work involves high levels of independence and accountability and you can always refer back to the Like Family team if you need clarification or guidance.

 

Signs of Boundary Problems:

  • Discussing your personal, marital, financial problems with Members/Social Carers.
  • Visiting Members/Social Carers outside of bookings.  
  • Inviting Members/Social Carers to your home or introducing them to your family members or friends.
  • Accepting money or expensive gifts.
  • Asking for favours or unreasonable flexibility with shift arrangements.  
  • Feelings of sexual attraction towards Members/Social Carers.

 

Taking Care of Yourself:  

Taking care of your physical and mental wellbeing is crucial to support work. It is important to have some activities outside of bookings that you enjoy. Be on the lookout for signs of psychological and physical stress and make sure to have a good work life balance that includes activities that make you feel good. Lastly, make sure that you are taking care of your general health and well being, getting enough sleep, eating a well-balanced diet  and participating in regular exercise