Professionally supporting and caring for anyone full time is a challenging job. While being a caregiver for the elderly can be strenuous, it is also highly rewarding. As with any professional career, there are skills that can help you to shine in your role.
As we face a new age caregiving in the time of Covid-19, these skills can help you be the best caregiver that you can be, regardless of the type of patient you’re caring for. Who doesn’t want to do the best job possible?
Top caregiver skills
When interviewing caregivers, the number one skill they indicate is critical is patience. A wonderful caregiver must have endless patience to manage illness, care for someone else’s concerns and manage a household.
Tending to someone else’s needs full time is demanding. Not only do you need to have patience with a potentially difficult patient, but you need to develop patience with yourself as you navigate caregiving with your patient. If you’re looking for easy ways to build your “patience skills”, have a look at 4 Tips to Help You Be a More Patient Person.
Visual observation skills are what allow you to respond to your patient’s needs, especially with a patient who may not have strong verbal skills. When used along with an understanding of body language (see below), you will be an even better caregiver than you are now.
Caring for another individual and running a household needs a special type of organization. Organizational skills can be learned and when you can organize better, not only are you a better caregiver, but you have a deeper sense of peace about yourself, knowing you can accomplish what you need to in an organized way. Read here for quick tips on how to become more organized.
Empathy is the ability to understand, share and support the feelings of another. Without empathy and compassion, it is a cold, dark world for many. Having empathy for not only understanding your patient, but for the life they had before will help you be an A+ caregiver.
Having empathy does not mean supporting bad behavior, it means understanding where the person who may be performing the bad behavior is coming from so you can better help them through it.
Strong communication skills are one of the foundational skills that an amazing caregiver always has. Good communication affects everything from how well the household is run, to being able to understand how the patient feels and what they need.
While strong speaking communication is important, listening is equally valuable. Your patient will tell you what they need if you only truly listen to them. This is not only listening to their words, but the manner in which they said them. Learn more about how to improve your communication skills here.
Having initiative is defined as “the ability to decide independently what to do; taking important action intended to solve a problem”. You are the caregiver, this means that you must develop the ability to make good decisions on behalf of your patient and to take action on those decisions.
Having the right perspective can make all the difference in life. Many patients have had difficult lives and are dealing with challenging physical conditions. Your ability to remain positive, to not bring your personal issues to work and to be able to separate troublesome behavior from the person is a critical tool that will not only help the patient, but yourself.
The skill of understanding how body language is used and what it conveys is much underrated. You can learn a lot about your patient from how they express themselves physically. Do they have their arms crossed defensively in front of them? What does that mean and how can you help? Being able to interpret actions like this will help you tend to their needs better.
On the other hand, do you understand what your body is telling the patient? With your hands on your hips, you may appear angry. But with a gentle hand on their shoulder, you appear caring and supportive. Again, understanding how body language shows people what we’re feeling, will help you to communicate better with seniors who may not have strong verbal skills.
It isn’t just one thing that makes a terrific caregiver. It’s many skills in your toolbelt. And having access to more of these tools will help you to become a master caregiver.
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Do you have questions about how you can better support your loved one while they age in place in South Florida or regarding homecare in general? Please contact CareGivers of America here: Contact or call us toll free: 800-342-4197
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