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How To Maintain Professional Boundaries In Health And Social Care

The unique requirements of health and social care work can create grey areas between the professional and the personal. Maintaining personal boundaries are essential for the wellbeing of both worker and service user, ensuring difficult issues can be dealt with as comfortably as possible. Recognising and enforcing these boundaries requires thoughtful understanding, but they protect all within the service. 

What Are Professional Boundaries In Health And Social Care?

Boundaries in care work help maintain the necessary distance between the person giving and the person receiving care. These boundaries help ensure all needs are met. 

Examples of boundaries in health and social care include:

  • Focused relationships. Service users and providers must have no additional relationships outside the service. 
  • Personal information. Clients and carers should avoid sharing personal information, including unnecessary contact details.
  • Workload. Carers should work within their means, and look for support when they’re surpassing their personal capabilities.
  • Needs of users. The client's needs should be at the forefront of decision-making regarding their own lives. 

Why are professional boundaries important?

Working in health and social care requires forming relationships with vulnerable people. This is a crucial part of the role, and a reason many of us are drawn to care work in the first place. However, as important as these relationships are, it’s also vital to maintain professional boundaries.

This might seem like a contradiction, but boundaries are a necessity of good care work. Boundaries ensure you can approach difficult situations professionally, safeguarding both you and those within your care. By maintaining professional boundaries in care, you can perform your role better, and more effectively. 

Maintaining boundaries in care work

Maintaining professional boundaries can be difficult, particularly if you’re just starting a career in care work. The crucial element is to understand the difference between professional and personal relationships. Remember that care work is a career, and your relationship has a purpose. 

Be transparent and honest with a client about your boundaries. Speak respectfully, and be sure to respect their own boundaries as much as possible.

Consider information before you share it. You may be comfortable telling one client personal details, but would you be comfortable telling another? This can indicate that your relationship is becoming too personal. 

An open workplace culture is key to maintaining professional boundaries in care work. You should feel comfortable sharing responsibilities when reaching the end of your competence, and reaching out for support when necessary. An open workplace understands the need for communication, and allows for constructive criticism. 

Maintaining these boundaries won’t hinder your ability to provide care. Instead, they help. Professional boundaries in health and social care are rarely hard and fast, and grey areas do complicate matters. Be sure to reflect on the wellbeing of both you and your client, to help you understand the line.

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Professional boundaries help the patient and empathetic workers who are drawn to careers in care to excel. Get in contact with us today to find your role in care.

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