Professional Boundaries With Our Vulnerable Patients

Why are professional boundaries so important?

First let’s define “professional.” Being professional means being reliable, setting your own high standards, and showing that you care about every aspect of your job. It is about being industrious and organized and holding yourself accountable for your thoughts, words, and actions. 

That definition can apply to any job.

In this instance I am using the word professional in reference to employees of the healthcare system (doctors, nurses, social workers, home health agencies to name just a few) who are present to address healthcare issues.

We enter peoples’ lives as professionals. We are knowledgeable, supportive, caring, and personable. However, we are not best friends; we are not even friends, really.

When we, professionals, enter our clients’ lives they are very vulnerable. They are scared, insecure, even fragile. They may see us as their rescuers, their saviors, and project those feelings on us. These feelings come from an emotional place, not an intellectual place.

It is our job as professionals to maintain the line of professionalism. At some point our work with any given patient and family will be done. Our work will have us move on. We want the patient and family to be independent of our presence, not relying on us from an emotional place.

Something More… about Professional Boundaries With Our Vulnerable Patients

When we offer education to our patients and families we are giving them tools to face their situation more confidently. We give them independence to make decisions about their diagnosis. We offer end of life resources that will support those who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Our bundle, End of Life Guideline Series, is particularly helpful to patients and their family caregivers.

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I know for myself, as a hospice aide, this has (at times) been difficult. I get very close to some of my patients and their families.
BK Books replied:
Hi April, I know, sometimes our heart gets in the way of balancing our work and our private lives. Once in awhile is mangable, every patient not so much. Blessings to you in the work you are doing. Barbara

Joyce Ross

Being a Hospice professional seems like it would be one of the hardest jobs for many reasons, but especially in regard to not only patients, but to the familias who are dealing with raw emotions, vulnerability, and confusion about what’s happening. Bless you all for helping families cope with the most difficult time in our lives. ❤️
BK Books replied:
Joyce, thank you for your kind words. It does take a special, heart driven person to work with end of life situations. Blessings! Barbara

Sharon Ball

In hospice the patient and their family make up our unit of care. Back in 1961-64 , when I was in nursing school, Lutheran General had what was called the concept of human ecology – whole person care(physical, social, emotional, spiritual) Hospice has that concept and I loved being a nurse and being able to use the skills I learned all those years ago.

BK Books replied:
Thank you Sharon for sharing. Blessings! Barbara

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