In-Home Care Agencies Should Focus on Building Blocks of Client Trust

Establishing trust between seniors and caregivers is paramount to the success of in-home care providers, as failing to establish trust can lead to ineffective care and impact providers’ overall bottom lines.

To achieve trusting relationships between clients and caregivers, investing in training programs and matching seniors with the most compatible caregivers is crucial. This is one takeaway for home care providers from a recent study funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR). 

NIDILRR is the research arm of the Administration for Community Living (ACL). ACL is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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As part of the survey, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign interviewed 24 Atlanta-based adults, ages 65 and up, about activities of daily living (ADLs) and working with a caregiver. Researchers wanted to identify what factors create trust in caregivers in the home setting.

Overall, the older adults that participated zeroed in on professional skills, personal traits and communication as the main factors that influenced their trust in caregivers.

Researchers discovered that, for older adults, professional skills mean caregivers who can perform care tasks in a consistent, precise and safe manner. For example, a caregiver who makes sure a senior gets in and out of the shower without falling, and that the water temperature is comfortable.

Additionally, a caregiver’s attitude plays a key role in their professionalism.

While researchers note that professional skills are important, it’s only one component in building trust with a senior.

“The qualities of the caregiver that support trust extend beyond professional skills,” Rachel E. Stuck, one of the study’s authors, told Home Health Care News. “These are personal and vulnerable tasks for the older adults, therefore a more personal connection with the caregiver can help them trust them more. A mismatch between the older adult and caregiver can cause distress for both of them, so understanding these issues provides a starting point for learning how to mitigate them.”

In other words, it’s important for providers to make sure that they are matching seniors with caregivers who they are compatible with, but the reverse is true as well. At a time when the caregiver turnover rate is at its highest, the right match could mean the difference between turnover and keeping caregivers on staff.

Apart from professional skills, personal traits such as being well-groomed and dressed appropriately for the job are valued by seniors. Honesty, specifically a caregiver who is straightforward in their conduct, is also valued by seniors.

Communication also influenced trust in caregivers. For some older adults, this means a caregiver who communicates well about the tasks they are doing. This could also mean a caregiver who is able to joke with them and talk to them about their personal life. Engaged and responsive caregivers are valued by seniors.

“A key part to incorporate into training is how to communicate effectively with the older adults, from how to talk older adults through the steps of a task, [such as bathing], to how to help understand the issues the older adult might be having,” said Stuck.

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