Skills to Become a Caregiver
Caregivers make a genuine difference in the lives of their patients and their families. But not everyone is cut out for the job. Caregivers must master a list of qualities and skills to succeed and provide the best client care possible. Discover 11 unique skills you need to become a caregiver below.
Showing compassion means tuning in to other people’s distress and desire to alleviate it. This attribute is first on the list because many home health clients are in distressing and painful situations.
- Recovering from surgery
- Losing their memory to Alzheimer’s
- Other miscellaneous situations
As a result, being caring and empathetic is an absolute must-have in terms of qualities for caregivers. Compassion may not be a “hard” skill like clinical know-how or time management, but it’s no less vital to caregiver work.
Caregivers must have excellent written and verbal communication skills, even if their clients can’t communicate through traditional speaking and writing. In addition, you will need to interact with their family members or other caretakers. This is important to discuss their care and updates on their condition. You will also need to interact with the following:
- Other medical professionals
This will be necessary to relay their instructions to the patient and family.
It’s not enough to talk with or listen to your patients. Sometimes, they may be unable to articulate what’s going on with their health. Or they may even try to actively hide something from you if they are afraid of revealing any deterioration in their condition. During your home visits and other interactions, you must check for changes in your patient’s condition. It will be essential to make a note of them in your report. Staying aware of the client’s environment is also necessary. You will also want to take care of potential hazards for tripping, fire, etc.
Working as a caregiver is very social, and you’ll interact with people all day. You don’t have to be an extrovert to work as a caregiver, but it does help. Having a high level of social skills will go a long way towards helping you establish rapport, build trust and otherwise nurture a robust and open relationship with your clients. These interpersonal skills will also benefit you and your clients, as many home health patients can feel isolated. Interacting with a caregiver can help dispel some of those feelings of loneliness.
Even if you work for a caregiver agency, you’re essentially your boss regarding managing your time and ensuring that everything gets done in a shift. As such, you’ll need to be able to prioritize tasks, work efficiently and avoid getting bogged down in overly time-consuming duties when time is short.
Do you know where everything is in your nursing bag? What about essential medications in your client’s house? As the saying goes, having a place for everything and everything in its place is very important for caregivers, especially in an emergency. When seconds count, you want to be able to lay your hands on exactly what you need. Also, check out this organizational planner to help you keep everything necessary in one place.
Especially if the client is elderly, many caregivers help with light housekeeping during their visits, such as doing laundry or mopping. (Heavy-duty tasks such as moving furniture, cleaning carpets, or mowing the grass are outside the scope of work, though.) So even if you don’t keep your home as neat as you want, you’ll need to be able to clean your patient’s house until it’s up to scratch. This standard also applies to personal hygiene, as you’ll likely need to help your client bathe and dress.
Most home health clients deal with challenges of one type or another: significant mental and physical ailments, limited communication abilities, and more. Clients may be irrational or critical (or both), require cleanups after accidents, and otherwise lead to some frustrating situations. Caregivers need to remain calm in these scenarios, so having a near-unflappable personality is essential for successful patient care.
Because a patient’s condition can change daily, so can your work as a caregiver. No two shifts or home visits are the same, and caregivers must be flexible to handle these changes gracefully. This flexibility also extends to the scheduling, as caregivers rarely work regular business hours (after all, patients aren’t confined to Monday through Friday, 9-5).
Caregivers often work by themselves in the patient’s home. They’ll have instructions from doctors and nurses regarding wound care, medications, etc. Still, home health care is different from other medical environments because you don’t have a doctor signing off on your every move. Therefore, caregivers need to be comfortable being proactive, making informed decisions, and taking action in an emergency.
Physical Strength and Stamina
Caregivers perform various physical tasks, from carrying groceries to vacuuming to lifting patients. No matter what they do, caregivers are often on their feet for long periods, sometimes almost their entire shift (which is why wearing comfortable nursing shoes is so important!). Therefore, having a baseline level of physical strength and stamina is important to maintaining your health and that of your clients.
Not just anyone can or should become a caregiver, but if you have these 11 qualities, you might be an excellent fit for the job. And if you’re currently looking for a caregiver to care for your loved one, keep this list in mind as you review candidates. Another excellent resource for caregivers is The Ultimate Caregiving Expert. She makes caregiving possible for busy entrepreneurs. She is a Caregiving Expert that provides Virtual Assistant & Coaching Services to help lighten the load of entrepreneurs trying to run their businesses while caring for a loved one. Taking care of your business and loved ones should be a top priority. Schedule your planning session with her so she can look at how to keep your life and your business running smoothly.
Deborah Swanson is a Coordinator for the Real Caregivers Program at allheart.com. A site dedicated to celebrating medical professionals and their journeys. She keeps busy interviewing caregivers and writing about them and loves gardening.