My worker - - - a professional

Relating with professional workers

Working out how to relate to attendant care workers is a challenge.

Attendant care workers need to build good rapport with you. But they are not your friends.

Attendant care workers need to be caring but they are not ‘carers’.  They are workers working with you on goal directed work.

Attendant care workers work closely with you in very personal ways.  They do personal care.  But the relationship is professional not personal. 

They are paid.  You don’t give them gifts.
They are rostered on.  They don’t just drop in like friends.

Giving mixed messages, relating to friendly workers as friends, or treating the relationship as personal rather than professional only create conflicts of interest which are not in your best interest.

Attendant care workers are there to work with you on your goals. They are not there as friends.

When the relationship is working well:


  • Working with you so you are able to be as independent as possible.
  • Working with you on achieving your goals.
  • Being friendly but not being your friend.
  • Developing rapport with you but not being part of your family.
  • Sticking to their role and not be doing work outside their agreed role.
  • Not accepting gifts.
  • Not visiting you or your family outside work hours.

Clients and family members:

  • Recognising that workers are paid to do their role.
  • Recognising that if workers, for example, are given gifts, become friends, do extra things outside their role there is a conflict of interest for the worker and in the long run that conflict of interest will cause harm.
  • Not mistaking friendliness for being friends.
  • Not wanting workers to be friends.
  • Not giving gifts to workers
  • Not asking workers to do things that are outside their role.
  • Not asking workers for personal details about their lives.
  • Not inviting workers to visit outside their work hours.
  • Not visiting workers at their homes or at their social events.

More information on professional boundaries




Looking for workers

When you are looking for staff who are you looking for?

You want someone who’s open-minded, adaptable and flexible personality because you are going to be with different people in their homes.

You want someone who’s both patient but clear on their roles.

That they can be patient with the client and the family and make sure that they can make clear what their role is but respectfully outline what is not their role and what would need to be done by someone else.

You want someone who is enthusiastic and energetic and who enjoys the work because again you are going into people’s homes and you don’t want someone who is going to come in and bring their problems with them.

You want someone who’s going to come in and get their job done.

Hopefully they will have a good rapport with the client and the family and won’t cause any additional stress for the family and the client when they’ve already got quite enough problems of their own.

Service Coordination Manager


What being a support worker is like (3 mins)



As a support worker I do feel like we are in a very privileged position. We are being let into people’s private life, people’s private homes.

You become… Like you are quite aware that you are entering somebody’s home and you do have to have a certain level of I guess in your mind you think “I’m here in a professional manner, I’m here to represent the agency, I’m here for a purpose and that purpose is to provide care to this client”.

But in my experience it worked really well. The client family, like the support worker and client relationship and the support worker and family relationship has always been quite clear and I find that it’s worked really well working together. The family usually will tell you where everything is that you need to know, makes you feel really welcome, really at home. And it makes it a really productive work environment.