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Balancing Empathy with Objectivity

Amina works as a personal care attendant (PCA). She has about ten clients whom she visits every week. Amina likes and respects all of her clients. However, she is especially fond of Mrs. Nguyen. Mrs. Nguyen reminds Amina of her own mother back in Somalia. Every time that Amina visits, Mrs. Nguyen asks her about her children. She also tells Amina stories about her own family. She talks about what it was like growing up on a farm in Vietnam. Another reason that Amina likes visiting Mrs. Nguyen is that she always offers her delicious food to eat. Because of Mrs. Nguyen, Amina has a real love for eggrolls.

One day when Amina arrives at Mrs. Nguyen’s house, she learns that Mrs. Nguyen has had a stroke. She is on life support at the hospital. Amina is very upset. She wants to go and see Mrs. Nguyen right away, but she has other clients who need her help.

Amina calls her supervisor to tell her what has happened. Amina asks her supervisor if she can take time to go to the hospital. Amina’s supervisor listens carefully. Then she gently reminds Amina that there are other clients to visit. She cautions Amina that it is not a good idea to become too attached to the clients that she serves. Caregivers who become too attached to their clients can have trouble being objective. This means that they might start making decisions based on their emotions rather than on what is best for their clients.

Amina still wants to go to the hospital, but she knows that it’s not a good idea. Mrs. Nguyen has family who will visit her. She also has a great team of doctors and nurses. Amina will go and make sure that the rest of her clients are well cared for.

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© 2015 by Southwest Adult Basic Education

Project made financially possible through grants from:

Southwest Initiative Foundation, Marshall Community Foundation, Southwest Regional Transition Partners, Southwest Adult Basic Education, Marshall Healthcare Partners