When your job is to provide care for one, or multiple individuals, it is easy to break down a day into tasks. Certainly, taking vitals, distributing meds, dressing, showering, feeding, transporting, etc. are all necessary parts of caring for someone’s well being. However, it is important to take stock of whether you are providing emotional care and support to your patients or family members as well. One of the simplest ways to do this through caring conversation starters. You can use some of these prompts while having coffee or incorporate them into a reminiscence activity. While these are great for care staff in assisted living settings they work for anyone: adult day care staff, in-home carers, family caregivers, etc.
Without further ado, here are 20 questions care staff can use to strike up stimulating conversations with their loved one or residents. These questions go beyond small talk. Having caring conversations will allow you to learn new things about your patient or loved one’s life and point of view. In turn, this knowledge can help you provide better care. Therefore, the hope is that these conversations lead to better emotional and mental outcomes for those receiving care. Keep in mind these are starting off points to get the ball rolling. As your patient or loved one begins to share, use active listening and continue being curious!
20 Caring Conversation Starters
- What do you think has remained the same about you throughout your whole life? How have your perceptions about yourself changed over time?
- If you could tell your younger self something you know now, what would you say?
- What do you find challenging right now? How can I support you through it?
- What do you miss about ‘the good ol’ days’? What do you love about life right now?
- Obviously, we all have moments or event in life that make us change course or end up greatly affecting who we are. Which events in your life had the greatest influence on you?
- What makes you feel loved?
- Have you lost anyone special to you? If so, would you like to tell me about them?
- If your life had a slogan, what would it be?
- Tell me about times in your life when you’ve felt proud of yourself.
- What advice do you have about relationships?
- Did you travel much? Tell me about some favorite places you’ve been and what you like about them.
- What stresses you out? Do you have any pet peeves?
- If you are spiritual or religious, what does your faith mean to you? Have your beliefs changed throughout your life?
- If you could go back to school again, what would you study?
- What is the best and worst job you ever had and why?
- If you had to spend $1 million dollars tomorrow, what would you spend it on?
- What do you need today? How can I make your day a little better?
- Do you have any regrets in life?
- Do you have any fears? Have you ever had a fear that you overcame?
- What do you want me to know about you?
Working with someone who has difficulty opening up?
Try being as open-ended with your approach as possible. For example, rather than asking a pointed question say:
“Tell me about…”
“I want to hear a story of…”
“What is your opinion on…”
Taylor Vander Well heads up Best Practice & Marketing for StoriiCare, a care management and adult day care software for senior care providers. She loves doing her part to help care providers provide high-quality, person-centered care to their residents and service users.