How important are professional boundaries?

What are professional boundaries?

Residents and patients in your care are looking to you for a certain level of trust when it comes to their care. As healthcare professionals, we have a great deal of power within relationships of care due to the trust and intimacy we have developed over time. Trusted and expected, you are not supposed to abuse your power or connection to the people under your care. The most effective way to respect the rights of patients while navigating your role as a healthcare professional is by paying careful attention to professional boundaries. I will be explaining the meaning and importance of professional boundaries.

Ideally, professional boundaries are defined as the boundaries between a health care practitioner and the people under their care. By doing so, healthcare professionals and family members of patients/residents can establish a therapeutic relationship in a safe and comfortable environment. In most cases, they are determined by the legal, ethical, and organizational requirements of your position. Most healthcare practitioner roles are governed by professional boundaries such as:

  • When discussing resident health information, you should only do so if you have the resident’s direct consent. You should also only do so if you are concerned about their safety or the safety of another person.

  • You should not perform any additional favors for residents or patients that clearly exceed your job description.

  • Refusing to accept large gifts from patients or residents

  • Contact numbers for work and personal use should be kept separate

You should provide clear guidance to your employees in the policies of your local organization or healthcare trust regarding the boundaries in workplace they should adhere to. Please review their guidance thoroughly and adhere to local recommendations when following their guidance.

The importance of professional boundaries

It cannot be overstated how important it is for healthcare professionals to adhere to professional boundaries. It is a matter of ethical standards, national legislation, and the standards of behavior that your local trust considers necessary to establish boundaries in workplace. Consequently, if you do not adhere to these boundaries, you may be in violation of the law. There is a risk that you may engage in unethical behavior or actions, as well as violate local regulations.

It is a concern for the safety of patients and/or residents that unites professional boundaries that are established by law. As well as ethical concerns, and local policies. It is crucial to maintain boundaries in workplace so that patients and their loved ones are protected from inappropriate behavior. As well as maintaining therapeutic relationships between residents and staff, they facilitate the transition of residents from one home to another. The establishment of professional boundaries may also provide an emotional and physical sense of safety. As well as preventing patients/residents or clinicians from becoming unhealthily dependent on each other.


It is also a necessity to protect healthcare staff by maintaining boundaries in workplace. The concept of professional boundaries prevents staff from feeling the need to take on heroic roles that exceed the expectations of their jobs. Thus, reducing burnout and increasing employee satisfaction.

Practitioners and those they care for establish mutual respect and trust when their professional boundaries are clearly defined.

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