Can an ex-patient be a friend?

  1. I was working in a vent care home but I don't work there anymore. May I legally continue to text message with one of the patients who I became close to when I was there? I still care about her as a person
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  2. 3 Comments

  3. by   bananas1
    Generally, no. While I know how it feels becoming really attached to people you spend a lot of time with, it really is unprofessional to continue the relationship, and kinda blurs the lines and could put your practise at risk - if the situation somehow got back to the organisation . If I see ex-patients on the street and they initiate discussion, of course I will have a chat. But I have had to decline coffee/sit down to catch up etc.

    I wouldn't if I were you, it's not healthy for either of you
    Last edit by bananas1 on Oct 30 : Reason: autocorrectfail
  4. by   Janedog
    Thank you for your help. I gave some cheap yarn, (I had already bought) to the patient, after I left the company's employment, (one day ago), and they were not at all pleased. They would rather she went without, although it did ease her anxiety. Then she texted me, and I texted her back, and they found out, probably through snooping through her phone..., which is also, not right. I enjoy trying to bring some joy to people on their deathbeds, but it's forbidden.
  5. by   elkpark
    Quote from Janedog
    Thank you for your help. I gave some cheap yarn, (I had already bought) to the patient, after I left the company's employment, (one day ago), and they were not at all pleased. They would rather she went without, although it did ease her anxiety. Then she texted me, and I texted her back, and they found out, probably through snooping through her phone..., which is also, not right. I enjoy trying to bring some joy to people on their deathbeds, but it's forbidden.
    Welcome to allnurses!

    It's not "bring(ing) some joy to people on their deathbeds" that is "forbidden," it's violating professional and ethical boundaries. It's always inappropriate to enter into personal relationships with clients. How was she able to text you? Did she find your personal number, or had you given it to her? While I agree that it was wrong of your previous employer to "snoop through" the woman's telephone, they were right to object to you communicating outside the bounds of your working relationship.

    I'm sure that, if having the yarn would improve the woman's situation, that, if you had made the suggestion to the treatment team that you had some yarn you could share, there would have been an "approved" way for you to share the yarn. But doing it on your own, without consulting with anyone else, puts you in the situation of "playing favorites" with clients. It was especially inappropriate for you to return to the facility to visit this woman after you were no longer employed there. Your relationship with her was professional, not personal, and that is what it should have remained. You say goodbye when you leave, and you both move on.

    Professional boundaries exist for the provider's protection as much as the client's -- boundaries are your friend, and it is always a mistake to violate them.

    As for your original question, it is probably "legal" for you to continue to text the woman, but it is not ethical, and it is not a good idea.

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