Some moments are much more important than others when you are dealing with a person in a care situation. You may think this is radical, but stay with me.
For all of us working in the care sector, the priority should be on what happens person-to-person between client and carer at important moments. Good organisation, the right equipment, skilled people, …. yes, all essential of course, but it’s the human spark at the moment of two people connecting emotionally when there’s a lot at stake that makes the difference. That spark – and the feelings that are generated by it – is the secret of how great care providers distinguish themselves from the rest. I call these connections “moments of truth” in care. They are moments when things can get a lot better – or much worse – depending on how we handle it.
Care managers who are struggling to keep on top of things find it hard to influence the way their organisation meets the needs of its clients. How do you get staff to behave the right way? Can a manager write a script for everything that happens when two people meet? Do managers simply leave it all to the carer?
No care manager can lay down rules for the whole range of desired behaviours to be followed by carers. Turn it around instead; focus on how the client feels. When a client has a problem or feels fearful or unsure, then they are in a heightened state of emotion. Those few interactions at that moment (for instance, the loss of a friend or relative, a cancelled treatment, a worrying medical procedure coming up) are when people have emotional energy invested in the outcome. Superb handling of these moments requires an instinctive front-line response which puts the client’s emotional needs ahead of the company’s and the carer’s agenda. The carer who is able to recognise this and connect at an emotional level with the client, giving a truly authentic response, is always doing the right thing.
So the questions for a care manager are:
- Can your staff recognise moments of truth?”
- Are you empowering your staff to be truly authentic with clients when it matters?
Moments of truth are opportunities for positive outcomes. But equally they can be opportunities for things to go badly wrong. We’ve all had bad customer service experiences from time to time. What stays in the memory however long after the event are our feelings about how we were treated. Did the check-in staff make us feel good about that seriously-delayed flight? Or did they just not care? We remember our feelings about that moment of truth and they affect our image of the airline for a long time after.
- Can you foster appropriate behaviour?
- Can you enhance the intrinsic emotional intelligence of staff?,
- Can you extend the good example of exemplary individuals across the whole of your front-line team?
The point is that, in providing social care, there are moments when the long-term relationship between the organisation and its clients can change significantly for better or for worse. By supporting and developing the emotional intelligence of your staff you can ensure that more of those moments have a positive outcome.