Hi caregiver! I can picture you in my head. Yes, you. Beautiful soul, beautiful spirit. Why the accolades, you may ask? Because caregiving is a calling. Caregiving is not an easy job. It takes grit, it takes determination, it takes a love for others - but most of all, it takes selflessness. You, yes you, are a special kind of person.
I know that many people are taking care of their loved ones. Many women have given up their careers to be the caregivers to their parents, as the baby boomers advance in age. I promise to write more on that, but this article is geared towards the caregiving professionals who work for institutions, as independent contractors or for agencies.
What happens when you get that call that your services are needed? Here are six things that I’ve tried and tested over the years and they always come in handy as a checklist.
1. Timeliness - always be ON TIME! If possible, a few minutes earlier than scheduled. You are a professional, after all. One of our biggest duties is to provide peace and comfort to those we look after, and to their families as well. I sure would be happy to know that I’m with a person who’ll be on time, all the time, in case I ever needed it.
2. Grooming - always make sure that you look professional. Just like in any other career, first look and perception by the other party can play a big part on how your relationship goes moving forward. Iron your uniform, keep your nails short, wear minimal jewelry if at all (especially earrings and rings), be CLEAN and ODORLESS. Keep hair pulled back and secured so it doesn’t impede any of your duties. Put on minimal make up. If you don’t have one already, make a badge of your name in legible print.
3. Introduction - after you’ve been let into the home (please find out ahead of time on the requirements - code, doorbell etc), please introduce yourself. Full names, and why you’re there. Get to the clients eye level, look them in the eyes, and speak clearly and concisely. If you notice any difficulties in hearing - please adjust your volume and/or proximity to the person accordingly. Make it conversational. This is the time to learn about your host. I have found that most people find it respectful to address them by title, unless they express to you that they prefer something else. Dr Paula, Mr Smith, Mrs/Miss Lauren.
4. Respect the home - just like in your own home, you have certain quirks and preferences. Please ask them where they’d like you to keep your coat, bag, lunch etc. Always have a pair of non skid slippers with you, just incase the host prefers no shoes in their house. Please respect their religious beliefs as well - don’t go heating up ham in the microwave of a household that doesn’t eat pork. Ask what bathroom to use, and if possible a tour of the home so you know where supplies are (e.g extra bedsheets, gloves, soap etc). Don’t be shy to ask - you’d be surprised how appreciated it is when people realize that you respect their boundaries, homes and their person.
5. Use of electronic devices - put your phone on vibrate or silent mode. Never have your earphones on. Part of our job is to observe and to listen so we can know if there are any changes in the clients condition. That aside, one of our biggest duties is COMPANIONSHIP. Your client is your first and only priority once you’re clocked in. Get to know your client. Engage them in activities, show interest, create a bond. Would you like to feel ignored? They don’t either.
6. Supplies - always carry a pack of gloves, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. I can’t count how many times I’ve gone to see a client and these essentials were missing.! Before you get their supplies fulfilled by their family or wards, stay protected. If you drive, always make sure that your car is clean and has enough gas. The client might need you to run an errand - always be ready!
Caregiving is not an easy job. It takes grit, it takes determination, it takes a love for others - but most of all, it takes selflessness!
Most importantly, arm yourself with a good attitude. I’m a firm believer in attracting what we put out to the universe - with a smile, you can determine the trajectory of your day, and that of those you meet in that day. You’re in a life of service - and every day you go out, you make someone’s day a bit more bearable.
Finally, You’re a great caregiver! Shoulders back, chin up - you are changing the world, one client at a time! You are valued and appreciated!