line drawing of elderly woman and female caregiver
It takes 2 to tango
by Elena Jonathon

It’s easy to forget that a professional caregiver’s job entails far more than just taking care of a client and helping them with their health care or with the activities of daily living. Caregivers play an important role in the lives of their clients, and the services they provide are crucial to allowing them to age successfully at home.

Many hiring managers for homecare agencies focus on a caregiver’s professional experience and references, but fail to consider the professional’s ability to establish a strong rapport with a client.

Strong client-caregiver relationships can significantly improve the client’s quality of life. We’ll go over some strategies for building a strong and successful client-caregiver relationship in these pages.

But first, let’s examine the challenges that may be encountered along the way.

Difficulties in Client Relationships

The complexities of the client-caregiver dynamic can pose difficulties when the right training is not in place. Seniors and those with disabilities are vulnerable to abuse, and their caregivers may face issues such as wage theft, verbal abuse or unfair treatment from family members.

Remember that building a deep, nurturing relationship with clients can help your staff avoid situations like this. Doing so takes time, but in the long run it will help facilitate:

  • Open dialogue and communication
  • Trust and mutual respect
  • A strong bond and mental well-being

Building a Meaningful Relationship

Here are steps caregivers and patients can take to strengthen their relationship and form a genuine bond to provide quality care and healing.

1. Remember that listening is caring.

It’s not unusual for a client to feel scared or frustrated. They may not be able to articulate what’s going on with their health due to shyness, fear or denial. Truly listening to client concerns will build a meaningful bond and promote better understanding.

Furthermore, active listening allows the caregiver to detect potential red flags earlier. To ensure that the client feels heard and respected, avoid interrupting and ask a lot of good questions.

2. Practice compassion.

Compassion is a cornerstone of building a meaningful relationship with a client. To be compassionate means that caregivers can recognize when their client is suffering and can be loving and kind to them throughout the entire caregiving process. This type of assistance can be provided in a variety of ways, including:

  • Paying more attention
  • Listening with intention
  • Being affectionate
  • Speaking with kindness
  • Acknowledging their actions

While compassion is easier to practice than you think, your staff may require training on how to best implement it in their daily routines. It will result in a positive and collaborative relationship between your homecare client and their caregiver.

3. Surprise & delight them.

Even though clients rely on a caregiver to meet their daily needs, their likes and dislikes should not be overlooked. Exceeding your client’s expectations by organizing a fun activity that they can enjoy will provide them with precious memories. If homecare agencies train their caregivers to understand clients’ preferences and tailor their days accordingly, they’ll notice a positive impact on both staff and client morale.

This can help a patient feel less distressed and encourage positive behavioral changes, in addition to developing relationships in which a client feels more involved.

4. Be patient.

Patience is the bedrock of a successful caregiver-client relationship. When dealing with a client, a caregiver must be patient. Caregivers won’t be able to smile at clients, pay attention, or remain polite or courteous through difficult situations if they lack patience. Part of developing patience when working with seniors is recognizing that someone who has always been self-sufficient may find it difficult to accept their current situation and the fact that they need to receive care.

5. Create trust & security.

Building trust and making clients feel secure is vital for ensuring a long-term caregiver-client relationship. If your clients allow your caregivers to do their job without questioning their decisions, it means they believe in your staff and your agency. Both caregivers and clients must be considerate of one another and work together to build trust. How? Take the following steps:

  • Develop a connection
  • Don’t be dictatorial
  • Encourage clients to talk
  • Empathize with clients
  • Ask for their permission

6. Offer real-time transparency.

Using homecare management software helps connect clients to caregivers via stakeholder portals. Clients and their family members can use the software to keep track of the care they receive by accessing a shared schedule, caregiver visit information, billing history and more, making caregivers and the agency accountable. They can also give their feedback on services by leaving notes. The sooner caregivers respond to their clients’ concerns, the more likely they are to earn their trust and loyalty.

Being a caregiver is hard, but building a foundation of compassion, trust, interest, respect and transparency using these steps will make your job easier and your relationships stronger.

Elena Jonathon is director of customer success for the Caresmartz Company in Pittsford, New York. Caresmartz provides a complete suite of advanced homecare software, CareSmartz360, which gives control over all aspects of homecare business management. Jonathon is a homecare business strategy leader with more than seven years of experience in the industry. Visit