Qualities of a Quality Caregiver
What Essential Qualities Should You Look for In A Home Caregiver?
Home care is often the best choice for keeping you or your loved one in their home. People are most comfortable at home, and so, whether for healing after an illness or injury or for long-term care to age in place, home can be the best, most comfortable, and most inspiring place for that to happen. More and more, we see the medical community embracing this practice when it is safe and reasonably practical to do so.
What makes home healing and aging in place, living out as many years as possible in one’s own home, safe and practical is having a solid framework of care and support services in place. This is where home care and home healthcare services come in—at the intersection of quality of life, meaningful living, and safely living or rehabilitating at home.
Finding Quality At-Home Care—What Qualities Must You Look For?
You want the best care for you or your loved one. To achieve that, you need to find a good caregiver (or more likely, caregivers, plural, to fill all needed shifts). So, what makes a quality caregiver?
What are the characteristics of a quality caregiver? What traits and key characteristics should you be looking for in a caregiver such as a home health aide, certified nursing assistant or personal care attendant?
Above all else, your caregiver(s) needs to be:
You are putting your or your loved one’s care in this person’s hand. You are also placing them in what should be the safest, most important place. The one place someone should feel safe and protected from the rest of the world. It is absolutely crucial that the people in that space can be trusted with first, your person, and secondly, your or their home and possessions.Trustworthiness also applies professionally. Caregiving means that the caregiver will be privy to personal and at times confidential medical information. Maintaining the care receiver’s confidentiality is also crucial. It is important that the caregiver can be trusted to share only what information is necessary and only with those people who are allowed to have it. In short, no gossiping and no talking out of turn.
Being responsible is closely related to trustworthiness, of course. Being responsible doesn’t just mean being honest, though. It means that you take seriously the tasks and duties that are assigned to you. It means that you commit to their fulfillment for the well-being of the client and do not shirk those assignments, but rather feel an unquestioning obligation to perform them.
One of the reasons that people need home care is that they are unable to attend to the activities of daily living, either for reasons of physical inability or mental decline. Additionally, persons in home care will frequently need assistance with things like medication reminders, care plans, rehabilitation, and appointments. To be sure, it can be difficult for the best of us to remain organized enough to attend to all our own personal needs, let alone the needs of another. To do so requires top-notch organizational skills.
Home care recipients have caregivers and providers in place for a reason—because they need the help. Not having it is not an option. That means people not showing up is not an option. While there are, of course, life circumstances like sickness that need to be anticipated and planned for, your caregivers must be, overall, reliable and able to be depended upon to show up and do their job.
A caregiver must be respectful, even in times of disagreement or stress. They must respect their clients personally, but they also must respect their inabilities and insufficiencies, too. They must deal with disagreements, stresses, mistakes, irritations, and disabilities in a respectful way. They must always remember that the recipient may not be the person they once were; that that fact may be a cause of irritability and undesirable behaviors. They must act on the belief that the recipient is doing the best they can and must always, always treat them respectfully. Abusive or demeaning behavior is unacceptable, even if all the tasks of the job are being completed.
Closely related to respectfulness is compassion. Merriam-Webster defines compassion as a “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it”. If a caregiver cannot be compassionate toward their charge, they cannot deliver the kind of warm and supportive care that person needs. Caregiving without compassion is cold and impersonal; this is not the type of care you want for you or your loved one, especially when the goal of staying in one’s home is comfort and well-being.
In the case of home care giving, being attentive means, of course, that you pay attention to the persons you are caring for and are available and responsive to their needs. But it also means being attentive to the things that are less obvious and that may go unmentioned. It means also paying attention to the home, the situation, and subtle differences or changes in the client that may signal a stress, event, decline, or the need to add, change, or modify services.
It simply is not always easy to deal with a person who needs care. Whether for reasons of injury (at any age), chronic illness, or declining mood or self-sufficiency, being a patient or a person in need of assistance is stressful. Losing one’s independence is highly stressful and frustrating. Sometimes the stress and frustration come out in ways that are difficult to deal with. A caregiver must always be patient and understanding when dealing with challenging situations or behaviors.
It is not uncommon for the unpredictability of illness, loss of abilities, or even the mood of the day to result in a change for even the best laid of care plans. When this occurs, it is essential that the caregiver be able to change with the plan of the day. This, of course, does not mean that essential care goes undone, but that the caregiver is able to reprioritize and bend as needed to accommodate the needs and well-being of the client.
- Good Communicator
Being able to communicate is an essential duty of the job of caregiving. A caregiver must be able—and willing—to communicate with care recipients throughout the day. It is important for the caregiver to understand that they may be one of only a very limited number of people who the person has the opportunity to communicate with on a daily basis. It is also essential that the caregiver be willing and able to communicate with family caregivers or care overseers and agency staff such as other caregivers, clinical staff, and administrators. This is in the interest of the continuum of care, quality of care, and also in the interest of the quality of life for the care recipient. Clear written as well as verbal communication is important.
These qualities and characteristics are of caregiving are non-negotiable. When a caregiver does not exhibit and freely practice these qualities with all care recipients for whom they are providing care, quality care is not being given.
These are the most essential qualities that one should expect from a caregiver. You might have other qualities that you would add to the list. It is helpful if the caregiver is also present and undistracted, can bring a level of appropriate humor to help alleviate the challenges of the days, is interested in the person for whom they are providing care. Some of these attributes exist on a much more personal level and it can take time to find a good personal fit for you or your loved one. You must, however, at least start with the critical qualities of caregiving.
The Next Step in Choosing a Caregiver
Once the decision to stay or return to the home has been made, finding good, reliable caregiving is the first order of business. While some people choose to manage caregivers privately via direct hire, often the best fit, comfort, and reliability comes from working with a home care agency.
A reputable home care agency is an invaluable partner. While it may be difficult for you to know or gauge the qualities of a caregiver in the limited time afforded by the interview process, a home care agency will have a history with their providers. They will make sure that at the very least the most critical qualities exist in their staff, and then they will be able to go further to find a good personal match for the specifics of the case and for the person being cared for.
Private Home Care Services is a leader in quality home care services. We offer a range of services beginning with companion care, extending to private home health aide, personal care, and CNA care, and going beyond to private duty nursing care. This includes a wide range of support services as well, including case management, transportation services, administrative assistance, and much more.
Please consider PHCS for your or your loved one’s caregiving. Consultations are always free and without obligation. We’d be happy to talk with you to develop a personalized plan of care and services based specifically on your needs.
You can Call PHCS at (617) 546-7427 or Contact Us through our website.