Chapter 5: Establishing a Good Working Relationship

Job Performance Tips

Being an In-Home Supportive Services Care Provider is important work. It allows consumers to remain safely at home and prevents their premature admission to an institution. Your job as a care provider will go more smoothly if you and the consumer know and respect each other’s roles and responsibilities. The following suggestions will help establish a smooth working relationship and minimize problems that may develop.

  1. Be dependable. Arrive on time, and be ready for work. Notify the consumer as soon as possible if you are going to be late.
  2. Communicate changes. Notify the consumer if your schedule is going to change, or if you decide to leave the job. You are expected to give two weeks notice.
  3. Be reliable. Do all the work you agreed to, and do it well. Provide the same quality of work you would expect if you were the consumer.
  4. Be respectful. Treat the consumer with dignity and respect. Never verbally, physically or sexually harass the consumer. Do not bring anyone to the consumer’s house, unless pre-approved by the consumer.
  5. Maintain confidentiality. Do not share any private or personal information about a consumer. Do not share the consumer’s name or address, or information about a consumer’s personal situation, family, health or behavior.
  6. Report changes. Let the IHSS Social Worker know about changes in the consumer’s health, abilities, environment or service needs.
  7. Keep records. Maintain accurate time sheets, work schedules and other forms.
  8. Be informed. Know the amount of hours that have been authorized for a consumer and the tasks to be performed.
  9. Be efficient. Plan your work to make the most of the time allowed.
  10. Be helpful. Assist the consumer to maintain or increase self-sufficiency.

Starting the New Job

  • Try to develop a Task Schedule (see samples in previous chapter) or a task checklist to clarify what work must be done, when it must be done and how to perform the tasks. A posted checklist may help you learn the steps or procedures.
  • Some consumers will want jobs done in a very particular way; others are flexible about how tasks are done. Note that information on the Task Schedule.
  • Ask the consumer if you can talk about any medical problems, allergies and/or special diets. If the consumer has health problems, ask if any task should be done in a certain way.
  • Wear clean, comfortable clothing. Many consumers prefer that you do not wear a uniform, since that may be associated with hospital employees.
  • Do not bring a large back-pack, purse or other bag to work as it might cause concern about possible theft.
  • Do not take anyone else to work with you, including a child, relative or friend.
  • Talk to the consumer regarding what to do in case of an emergency.
  • Ask the consumer to post a list of phone numbers for doctors, clinics, therapists, social workers, relatives or friends to call in an emergency.

Handling Money

Always protect yourself from any questions about money by following these steps:

  • If asked to take money from the consumer’s wallet or purse, insist that the consumer watch you.
  • Ask the consumer to verify the amount of money you are taking. Record the amount on a note or on the shopping list.
  • Count the change, and ask the consumer to initial the receipt when you give it back.
  • Do not loan money to the consumer.
  • Do not borrow money from the consumer, even if they offer it.
  • Never ask the consumer to contribute to anything, join anything, or buy anything.

Take Care of You

Caregiving work is important and rewarding but can be hard work. Some consumers may be very demanding and a few may be unpleasant. Here are some suggestions:

  • Try to maintain a positive attitude.
  • Talk about problems with the consumer immediately, before they get serious.
  • Take breaks if you are working several hours.
  • Stay in good health, eat a nutritious diet and get sufficient sleep.

Sensitivity to Differences: Cultural, Language, Age and Disability

Communication is the most important task in life. People from different cultures may have different expectations and different ways of communicating or behaving. There are cultural differences about food, grooming, touching, sharing personal matters and what is considered polite, private or rude. Try to be aware of these cultural differences and of stereotypes you may have based on someone’s culture, age, gender or disability.

For example, people who are elderly are often dealing with change, loss and limitations. They may be experiencing illness, pain, frustration, reduced mobility and freedom, loss of friends or reduced income. They may be worried about further limitations or death. They may react with irritability, anger, low energy, sadness or depression. Sometimes, it is challenging to sort out the meaning of these symptoms. They can be signs of aging and loss. But other times, they may be signs of more serious medical or emotional difficulties, reactions to medication, depression or drug or alcohol abuse, which indicate they need the help of a counselor or doctor.

Often the consumer and care provider have different native languages. The care provider may be new to this country and learning English. In these circumstances, it is natural that communication may at first be difficult and requires patience. Once you learn to listen to each other and adjust to differences in language, it will get easier.

Working for a disabled employer may be a new and challenging experience. You may feel uncomfortable with the consumer’s condition and needs. Ease things by asking what the consumer wants done and how you should do it. Avoid the tendency to “do it all” for the consumer. Let the consumer tell you what is needed and when. People with disabilities are capable and should be encouraged to make choices for themselves. Once you become familiar with the employer, you will be more comfortable.

Safety and Accident Prevention

The IHSS Public Authority offers care providers assistance in resolving problems or disputes with the consumer or the consumer’s family members. We will also provide on-going training for care providers.

You can help avoid accidents in the home:

  • Ask the consumer if you can make some small changes and clean up dangerous situations, such as tacking down rugs, removing items one could slip on off floors, mopping up wet floor surfaces and other hazards.
  • Be cautious when dealing with hazardous materials.
  • Lift properly.
  • Clean up spills immediately.
  • Put chemicals, medicines and other dangerous items where they are safe from anyone who could endanger themselves.
  • Never leave someone unattended in a hot bathtub or shower if they might turn on water that is too hot, or if they might fall and not be able to get up.

Common household dangers include:

  • Clutter on floors or slippery floors.
  • Doorways and walkways that are blocked or cluttered.
  • Throw rugs that could trip an elderly or disabled person.
  • Sharp or projecting objects that could cause injury if fallen against, bumped into or mishandled.
  • Equipment or appliances that are broken or need repair.
  • Machinery with moving parts.
  • Lighted cigarettes, candles, fireplaces, gas heaters or stoves.
  • Chemicals, such as bleach and ammonia and drain-opening products, that can burn skin or eyes and give off toxic fumes.
  • Electrical cords and overloaded extension cords.
  • Mixed up medication.

Contact Information

Adult and Aging Division
Human Services Department
Business Hours
Monday – Friday
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
3725 Westwind Boulevard
First Floor
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
38.510185, -122.796579