Becoming Too Attached to Patients or Residents
Rita is a nurse assistant at a local long-term care facility. Another nurse assistant, Carrie, asked Rita about one of the residents. Carrie thought she was getting “too attached” or emotionally connected to a resident and wanted some advice from Rita.
Rita listened carefully while Carrie explained that when she works with one of the residents, he never wants her to leave. When Carrie says she has to go, he holds her hand and says “Please, don’t go.” Carrie knows that he doesn’t have family that visits regularly, and Carrie feels like she is the only “family” he has. Carrie doesn’t know what to do.
Rita reminded Carrie that there are boundaries, or limits, to relationships between residents and caregivers. These boundaries define what is acceptable behavior. As a nurse assistant, Carrie’s job is to provide care for the resident and not be his family or get too emotionally attached. Rita remembered the questions she learned to ask to determine if someone is too attached to a resident and has ignored boundaries. Rita gave the list of questions to Carrie to help her decide if she is too attached. Rita reminded Carrie that if she answered “yes” to any of the questions, Carrie may need to create more acceptable boundaries with residents:
Have you ever spent off-duty time with a resident?
Do you keep secrets with a resident?
Do you become defensive when someone questions your interaction with a resident?
Have you ever given gifts to or received them from a resident?
Have you felt possessive of a resident, thinking that only you could provide the care the resident needs?
Carrie thought about the questions and realized that she could answer yes to some of them. She knew she had to modify her behavior when working with the resident. Carrie thanked Rita for listening to her and for helping her with the situation.