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Keeping boundaries with those you care for - Carers UK Forum

Keeping boundaries with those you care for

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Hi guy's,

I was a bit saddened at something recently and thought I'd reflect on it here. For reasons of confidentiality I have to keep this pretty vague. If I was more specific it would help you guys understand the given situation, but alas I can't be....

I was party to a discussion about whether or not family carers in a specific situation were making a "problem worse" (my words) for want of a better term, by not adhering to "boundaries" with their loved one, who is in need of the care. Now, I don't dispute that agreeing, and adhering to boundaries in any relationship really, can be useful, if not essential sometimes.

I've just seen now, a few times, family carers who in many ways are vulnerable themselves, carrying out a role they've had no training for, and a role that they were in no way anticipating to have to carry out (i.e. a role far, far, far beyond their usual, expected, loving & supportive role). Obviously the nature of high care needs can include, and often does, challenging behaviour in the mildest form, to hostility, threats, anger, retaliatory gestures, and violence at the more extreme end (but a normal day-to-day thing for some carers unfortunately).

To use an example, and this is not the situation I am referring to. I have a friend with a teenage son, and her boy has assortment of mental health and behavioural issues. She's a single mum, often at the end of her tether. When she thinks about boundaries and enforcing them with her son, she also has it on her mind that she doesn't want him punching through the family TV again and needing surgery on the tendons in his wrist (this happened). She wants to make it clear to him that certain behaviours and attitudes are unacceptable, but she know's (in her experience), that the local Children's and Adolescent Mental Health Services are not going to be supportive in helping pick up the pieces of the latest incident. She wants to do all these things that "normal" parents with "normal" kids do, but every time she takes a course of action with him, she risks it blowing up. On the plus side, she's got a very loving relationship with him and I have no doubt she's a 'mum of the year' candidate.

Point being, I'm sure most carers would just love to 'lay down the law' more, and would like nothing better than their loved one behaving in more socially acceptable and acceptable to family ways. However, many struggle with enforcing such actions and risk further alienating the person in need. Possibly, carers would need to put their own safety at risk to do this. When I mean safety, I'm also talking about the psychological harm they experience from their loved one as a result of their caregiving role.

I think we (professionals, support staff etc) need to be careful when we discuss "are you setting correct boundaries" with your child/wife/mother etc. I bet that often, it's not a case of carers not being willing to set, or have insight around boundaries, just that they find themselves in an impossible 'no-win situation'.

The partial answer to this, I feel, is to not totally avoid the boundaries issues, but we absolutely must compliment this line of inquiry with the required compassion, understanding and genuine support being made available (and authentically, not just a brief sentence thrown in). We can't mention boundaries and trying to enforce more acceptable behaviour without discussing all that comes with it.

When my mum was at her most unwell and practically stalking her very lovely neighbours due to intense paranoia and very low self-esteem, and being hostile and verbally abusive to long-time friends for the same reasons I would have been flabbergasted if someone had suggested "boundaries" with her had been a factor. No one ever did suggest this thankfully! If they had, I'd have been very happy to, calmly, sit down with them and educate them. I would have told them about all the little, and not so little, things we, as a family, had been doing over the years to help support her, and to reduce the impact her behaviour has on others.

I know all you guys know this, I'm just writing this as a self-reflective really!!!
What really hacks me off is when a new social worker/care manager ignores everything I've learned in the last 37 years about my brain damaged son. Then their "new" plan - which is actually identical to a plan of 10 years ago - fails very quickly. SW ignores everything I say, so I end up having to make formal complaints. I'm fed up with going round and round the same stupid circles. I provided copies of all my son's certificates, now they've been "lost" and I've been asked to copy them all again. I've the clearest possible evidence of a range of issues, no one wants to see them. Yet when everything goes horribly wrong, through no fault of my own, they suddenly expect me to drop everything and fill in all the cracks!!!
BB. I don't know how you keep going! Well maybe I do. Because you have to and you love your son.
My daughter likens Hubby's situation to an ever revolving door.
Seem your battle for your son is a very similar door. Round and round till you are so dizzy you nearly fall.
Have a good sleep and I hope tomorrow is peaceful xx
I'm only here because I had life saving surgery. Only here because by chance I was not driving my Escort, but my late husband's Range Rover, when I was hit head on. Life is precious, and I'm so lucky to be here. I am determined to enjoy the life I so nearly didn't have, as much as possible. Every day is precious. We are having a good time at the show with the steam engine this week. Everyone happy. However, I did meet an off duty support worker, who told me that one member of staff. Apparently staff's attitude to keeping M's money records is "I'm not an accountant". All they have to do is write down what they've spent and use a calculator to add or subtract one figure from another!! Who has learning difficulties then? I could do this as mental arithmetic by the time I was 8 or 9!!!!
Part of being a support worker is to help keep the monies in order. Not run a business, just help balance a few pounds. That comment is another 'cop out'. I don't understand why their supervisor/ manager isn't keeping a check on records. Mobile phones have calculators. Bet they can use their phones!
There are TWO calculators at M's flat. The problem is that they don't understand the concept of an "in" column, an "out" column, and what "Balance Brought Forward" means!