Do you have a loved one who is strong-willed, with a strong and clear mind but has an incapacity… whether it be through age, accident, or disability that is making it more difficult for them to independently live at home?
Can you relate to the uncomfortable feeling of there being a big ‘I think you need better care but I don’t know how to broach it with you’ white elephant in the room…?
Or have you tried to have this conversation and have been instantly shut down / closed out or pushed away?
If your answer is yes to any of these questions – know you are not alone and that these are very common circumstances that come in the evaluation of whether someone needs care at home.
STEP 1 – CHECK IN – So often in situations where we are not the ones under the microscope – it’s easy to see what could potentially be needed, it’s easy to sit in the seat of ‘we know better’… However, going in with that approach for someone who feels vulnerable and discouraged is not the best gateway to a conversation about home care. Step 1 is simply checking in with them and asking them if they are open to a conversation about something you’ve been observing in them that has been impacting your heart?
STEP 2 – SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE / YOUR PERCEPTION – Again it’s easy to enter these conversations with ‘you need this because you are that’… the problem with this approach is that they are potentially jarring statements that can create immediate closure in another. Step 2 is about owning your experience and gently sharing what you are perceiving in the other. For example – Use the statements ‘I’m experiencing’ and ‘I’m perceiving’… an example could look like – I’m experiencing a lot of care and concern for your health and wellbeing at the moment… because I’m perceiving that you seem to be struggling a bit at home and wonder how we can help you get some support.
“Let them speak….you listen”
STEP 3 – SHARE YOUR FEELING – Next step immediately after that is to own your feelings… So often this vulnerability is left out of the conversation because it’s easier to tell someone what to do than reveal your heart and share for example that “It makes me feel helpless and sad and I want to help. I’ve been too scared to talk to you about this… because I have the fear that you are going to shut down and close me out.” The key here is to go deep… share the underlayers of what you are feeling and your heart… Connect to your heart in your sharing to open theirs.
STEP 4 – ASK FOR THEIR EXPERIENCE – The next step is seeing them in that same light and asking them to share their experience… reiterating that what you shared is YOUR perception and that you would love to hear theirs. The key in this step is to LET THEM SPEAK… YOU LISTEN… Curb the urge to talk over them or ‘butt in’ or ask questions… give them the talking stick and allow them the time and space to unravel.
STEP 5 – ASK IF THEY ARE OPEN TO CARE AT HOME – Once they’ve shared – if there is an opening or an acknowledgement that they have been struggling or having difficulty – ask them if they are open to support and if they want to co-design their care plan? Remind them that it is their choice, their needs and their plan… Don’t force-feed them and say ‘they need’ it’… This approach gives them the space to own it from an empowered place within themselves.
At BCD we believe that the conversation about care at home happens in partnership with your loved ones and they should be involved in this important decision-making process. We hope that these steps help guide you to have more effective conversations that create a sense of openness for either home care and/or the opportunity to sit and talk some more again.
Remember that these conversations are part of the process and that acknowledgment takes time and can’t be forced or rushed. Please also share your experience and what has worked well for you in the comments section below.