How to Get Your Caregiver to Respond Positively to Negative Feedback

You’re having some problems with your caregiver. Or, perhaps he/she isn’t doing something the way you like. How can you get a positive response (and result) to caregiver feedback?

Build the foundation

Just imagine how frustrating it is for you to get feedback at a job where no one ever gives you direction. Or, they constantly criticize you but continue giving you more work and less tools to do your job.

Start by establishing a good relationship with your caregiver and setting expectations. This is why we emphasize the importance of the care plan and orientation meeting at EasyLiving. Explain how you want things done. Ask for questions and answer them thoroughly. Make sure your caregiver has what they need to do the job. Check out our Five “Etiquette Rules” for Having a Caregiver in Your Home for more.

Be timely with caregiver feedback

Give feedback right away. Don’t pile up a list of complaints. It’s most helpful if you can point out and demonstrate your feedback immediately.

This is also why we always solicit caregiver and client feedback after the initial visit and periodically. Sometimes clients hesitate to share feedback. They either don’t know how, feel awkward about it or don’t feel they can. Knowing this, we don’t put the burden on them to reach out. This way, the supervisor can help with effectively sharing feedback if the client is uncomfortable. A supervisor may also spot training or supply gaps. They can coach the caregiver, or even find a better match if it’s not a fit for some reason.

Focus on the specific behavior

Many times people fail in giving feedback because they don’t do a good job explaining what behavior they want. They use ambiguous terms that make it hard to get a positive result.

For example, a daughter might ask "Can you be more proactive with Mom?". It’s hard to get a positive response because there’s no shared understanding of what “proactive” means. Instead, change that statement to “When you see Mom’s water glass is almost empty, please go ahead and fill it back up for her.” This provides a specific action the caregiver can learn. Stay away from words with multiple or vague meanings. Actionable behaviors are the best way to get high-quality care...and the results you want.

Show and tell

Our supervisors have found great success with this method. We don't just tell a caregiver what we would like done. We show the caregiver how we want it while telling them. For example, you prefer shirts in your middle dresser drawer and shorts in the bottom.Go to the dresser and show the caregiver. Many caregivers are visual learners. And, all of us benefit from messages being communicated and reinforced in different ways.

Also, don’t forget, remembering details of 20 different tasks, especially when starting out, is overwhelming. Expecting a person to remember everything you told them in one sitting is unrealistic. The visual cues will help. And, you’ll likely need to repeat the message. There’s a “rule of seven” in marketing that says people have to hear a message seven times to take action.

This is why we view all feedback as positive. You’re helping the person to the best job for you.

Be respectful

Unfortunately, we’ve seen some pretty awful behavior from clients and families. It’s rare, but some clients treat caregivers as less than human. As mentioned above, there are a lot of details for a caregiver to remember. Your preferences may be very different than their previous client.

The types of care and services caregivers provide in your home are very personal. We know you may be upset when things aren’t done the way you prefer. This doesn’t mean you should yell at the person or be demeaning. Factual, practical feedback yields positive results.

Don’t ask the caregiver why

This may sound strange, but caregivers’ intent is 99% good. Most people don’t want to show up and do a bad job. Asking them why isn’t productive and puts them on the defensive. We don’t need to think of feedback as “negative” or “constructive criticism”. You either did a great job or here is some information about what I would like you to do moving forward.

Instead of asking them why, focus on clearly communicating what you want to change.

Check for understanding

Don't just ask "do you understand?". Ask them to explain back to you. Again, this is where showing helps. Get the caregiver to demonstrate the task.

Ask if they have questions or any feedback themselves. Sometimes the caregiver may have useful input or suggestions for making things run smoother. Or, there might be something they need to do the job better.

Establish follow up/check in

Reinforce the message. Compliment them on a job well done when they incorporate your feedback.

Check in on how things are going every so often. If you work with a quality home care company, they’ll do quality assurance to check in regularly. The relationship and your needs may evolve. And, as things change the caregiver might need additional feedback. You might need to update the care plan, tasks or times.

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