Working in aged care care, so much time and effort is devoted to ensuring residents are given the very best care by the people that care for them.
So it makes sense that on some occasions, recipients of care may want to demonstrate their appreciation by giving a small gift or delicious little treats.
Whether that be something they have made themselves, a bunch of flowers from the garden, or perhaps something they’ve gone out to buy especially for you.
Whatever the gift may be, it’s a gift from the heart, something to thank you for the care you have provided them.
Recently, this discussion was raised in HelloCare’s Aged Care Worker Support Group on Facebook, when a group member posted about a small gift she received from a client and their family.
Quickly the comments were filled with differing perspectives and opinions.
Many people found the acceptance of any form of gift inappropriate, and in fact against their company policy, while others felt that the acceptance of a small token was totally fine.
Is it ever ok to accept gifts from residents/clients and when does gift-giving overstep the boundary? And furthermore, does anyone actually write the rule book and is there any governing body for this type of gift-giving?
For nurses, given they are bound by the professional code of conduct from the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, they do have to comply with the Professional Code of Conduct for nurses as published by AHPRA – see below;
4.5 Financial arrangements and gifts
It is necessary, to be honest, and transparent with people. To ensure there is no perception of actual or personal gain for the nurse, nurses must:
when providing or recommending services, discuss with the person all fees and charges expected to result from a course of treatment in a manner appropriate to the professional relationship, and not exploit people’s vulnerability or lack of knowledge
only accept token gifts of minimal value that are freely offered and report the gifts in accordance with local policy
not accept, encourage or manipulate people to give, lend, or bequeath money or gifts that will benefit a nurse directly or indirectly
not become financially involved with a person who has or who will be in receipt of their care, for example through bequests, powers of attorney, loans and investment schemes, and
not influence people or their families to make donations, and where people seek to make a donation refer to the local policy.
Personal care workers on the other hand however do not have a representative board or professional code of conduct that they are bound to.
Hall & Willcox, an Australian based legal firm have written on this exact issue and have reported on their website that “a gift of a nominal value and given with good intention does not typically pose an issue”, however they note without a proper definition of what is considered a small gift like chocolates, as opposed to a gift of money or property, professional lines can be blurred.
Therefore it’s so important for aged care/home care providers to have this clearly documented and communicated to employees in policy and procedures documents so that you are not leaving it up to the interpretation of a carer.
It’s clear from the responses in the Aged Care Worker Support group that there are inconsistent views of what constitutes acceptable giving versus overstepping the line.
Much of the conversation in the post in the Support Group came down to personal morals and values, and less about company policies and procedures.
For example, if someone felt that it wasn’t right to accept a gift, regardless of the monetary value, then they should not accept the gift.
Other care workers mentioned that they were encouraged to accept small gifts and tokens from residents so as to not offend them but within certain parameters.
Flowers from the garden, things they had made and created for the carer were fine, presents and things of higher monetary value were not to be encouraged.
Several people also said that in their workplace, receiving gifts from residents was to be taken on a case by case basis, but anything gifted was to be reported to the manager so nothing could be misinterpreted.
If there are ever any questions about whether or not a gift should or can be accepted, always refer to company policy, and inform anyone who needs to be told of the gift, like your team leaders or manager.