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What to look for in a caregiver

Caregivers do more than just look after a family’s loved one and attend to their needs. They nurture, and foster a bond that makes them almost a part of the family. Sometimes, they provide more than what is required of them. Many of our elderly spend a majority of the last years of their lives with their caregivers, so it is important for families to find caregivers who will treat their loved ones like their own. These are some of the important qualities that one should look for in a capable, qualified and compassionate caregiver.

A caregiver should know how to empathize.

To give the patient the best care possible, it is important for a caregiver to have a personal understanding of and connection with the current status of the elderly person and what they are going through. Being able to empathize allows the caregiver to put himself or herself in the patient’s shoes, and identify and ease the patient’s fears or discomfort.

A caregiver should be patient and flexible.

Patience and flexibility are qualities that every person in the caregiving industry must possess. There will be many hurdles along the way such as the patient being stubborn and uncooperative, the schedule doesn’t go as planned, or difficult situations arise. A caregiver who is very rigid will find it challenging to deal with these circumstances in a positive way and be unable to help the person they are caring for.

A caregiver is passionate about his or her work.

What makes caregivers the best they can be is the passion for what they do. This means that they are not only working for their salary but genuinely care for people who need help, especially older and more vulnerable people. A passionate caregiver tries to prepare for potential difficulties that his or her patient might experience and takes the necessary actions to make things easier.

Caregivers who are passionate about their jobs are happy with what they do, and this becomes evident in how they deal with their patients, who in turn will respond positively to their enthusiastic attitude. Moreover, these caregivers are constantly looking for ways to improve how they perform their jobs, and ultimately, to make the lives of their clients better.

A caregiver is attentive and responds to situations in a timely manner.

A patient, especially the elderly, needs constant care and attention. It’s the caregiver’s job, therefore, to be attuned to those needs even if the patient doesn’t or is unable to communicate them. Paying close attention to the patient’s needs is also crucial because in many cases, the patient is unaware that they require help from their caregivers, and with little or no warning, the caregiver must respond to those needs to avoid untoward events.

A caregiver should put the needs of his or her patient first.

A good caregiver knows that it is her or her role to make sure that the needs of the patient are met. But, there are times when circumstances and even people, including the patient’s family, make it difficult for the patient to receive the care he or she needs. When this happens, the caregiver must put the patient’s welfare first and he or she should be able to take charge and do everything possible for the patient to receive the required attention.

A caregiver should be a good communicator.

Good communication is critical in all successful patient/caregiver relationships and this is also true when it comes to the relationship a caregiver has with the patient’s family as well. Being able to communicate crucial details regarding the patient’s care in clear and simple terms fosters understanding and trust. This helps the caregiver perform his or her job better.

A caregiver should be creative and innovative.

Engaging the attention of patients is not easy if they are given the same activities each day and they never seem to change. Therefore, it is necessary for a caregiver to be creative in the activities he or she identifies for the patient. The activities should be creative enough to keep the patient interested, involved, and excited. It’s also essential for the caregiver to be innovative because each patient is different. A technique that works on one may not work on another.

A caregiver should be committed and dependable.

Commitment to one’s job means that you can be depended on by the patient and the patient’s family. These are crucial characteristics because more often than not, the patient is left entirely in the caregiver’s hands.

A caregiver is honest and trustworthy.

Honesty and trustworthiness are important qualities in a caregiver, particularly for the live-in caregivers who are entrusted with not only the patient’s care but also the patient’s home and resources.

A caregiver is able to maintain confidentiality.

Part of a caregiver’s job is to be privy to a lot of information about the patient and the patient’s family. A good caregiver knows how to keep things to himself or herself unless divulging the information is essential for the safety, well-being, and protection of the patient.

A caregiver is capable of being emotionally tough.

It is sometimes difficult for caregivers not to be emotionally affected by their patients. It’s also natural for a caregiver to form a genuine bond with his or her patient, which helps the caregiver perform his or her job better. However, this bond could be a downside too, especially if the patient is suffering from a severe disease or is dying. The caregiver needs to maintain a strong outward attitude despite his or her emotional sufferings for the ultimate benefit of the patient.

A caregiver should be physically fit and have a strong constitution.

Patients that caregivers look after are often too frail to do everyday things on their own so it is important for a caregiver to have the physical strength to assist his or her patient when it’s time for a bath or if the patient needs to move from one room to another. Additionally, a major part of caregiving involves dealing with the patient’s bodily functions, which are sometimes uncontrollable. A good caregiver accepts this part of his or her job with patience, dignity, and respect for the patient.

A caregiver is able to perform light housekeeping.

Preparing nutritious food, cleaning, doing the laundry, and running errands are some of the things that a caregiver needs to do as part of his or her responsibilities to the patient. Some caregivers even go beyond the call of duty performing tasks, such as taking care of their patient’s grandchildren who visit or looking after their patients’ plants or pets. However, it should be noted that the caregiver’s primary responsibility is the patient and clients who hire a caregiver should never expect a caregiver to be both maid and caregiver. Any household chores should be geared toward the patient’s well-being and in support of the patient’s daily needs.

A caregiver is experienced in monitoring a patient’s vital signs, temperature, pulse, blood pressure, and respiration.

Knowing how to monitor and interpret a patient’s vital signs is an essential skill, especially if the patient is suffering from a particular medical condition.

A caregiver is able to keep track of the patient’s medication and when medicines should be taken.

Patients often forget to take their medicines or they forget which ones to take so it’s the caregiver’s job to make sure that his or her ward is drinking the right medicine at the right time.

A caregiver is a consummate professional.

Caregivers are not robots so it’s normal to expect that they will have bad days sometimes due for a variety of reasons. However, it’s important not to let personal issues get in the way of their professional responsibilities. While this may be very hard, especially if the personal problem is serious and difficult to ignore, a caregiver’s first responsibility is to see to the needs of his or her patient. If the caregiver feels that he or she cannot perform his or her duties without personal emotions getting in the way, then proper arrangements need to be made so the patient will not be negatively impacted by the circumstances.

Being a caregiver involves more than just having adequate training and experience because many capable caregivers have had little or no formal education or background in the field. However, they possess the qualities in this list and the sincere desire to help their patients to the best of their abilities.

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