Professional caregivers are a distinctive breed.

People who choose caregiving as a profession are accountable for other people’s care and well-being. A prerequisite for choosing this profession is they must be sensitive to the needs of others and possess a nurturing and caring nature.   Professional caregivers are trained to not only work with patients but also provide support and information to patient families.   Generally, caregivers are nurses working in hospitals, nursing homes, memory care units or other elder or senior care facilities or providing services in home health and hospice care settings.  While this blog focuses on elder care there are many caregivers who tend to the needs of pediatric patients.

While training is required to satisfy work demands, professional caregivers also need to possess other inherent characteristics and qualities that allow them to conduct work tasks with compassion. 

Some of the qualities that professional caregivers need to be successful include:

  • Compassion. The ability to reverse roles and put yourself in someone else’s place is compassion or empathy. A compassionate caregiver can recognize pain, fear, or discomfort and has a toolbox of knowledge how to make the patient feel better. Compassionate caregivers think about how they would want to be cared for if the roles were reversed.
  • Patience and Flexibility. Often a caregiver’s day doesn’t go as planned. Difficult circumstances may arise or the person’s health situation may change rapidly.  A caregiver needs to refocus actions and reactions when the patient has more pain or has a change in disposition.  A caregiver who is impatient and unbending will find it difficult to deal with circumstances like these.
  • Passion. A good caregiver has passion for what they do. A passionate caregiver puts the needs of others before compensation for their efforts. A passionate caregiver tries to prepare for unforeseen circumstances and takes necessary precautions to reduce any complication that may arise. Passionate caregivers are happy performing their duties and patients respond positively to this attitude. In addition, these caregivers are constantly searching for ways to improve their job performance and ultimately improve their patients’ lives.
  • Diplomacy. Tone of voice and body language speaks volumes about one’s demeanor. Diplomacy is necessary for caregivers to ensure they communicate with patients and their family members with dignity and respect. The goal is to be diplomatic as you prepare yourself mentally for challenging discussions or negotiations.   If a patient or patient’s family is difficult then diplomacy is necessary. Sometimes for simple matters such as meal preferences or preferences for activity or care have to be negotiated with diplomacy.
  • Composure.  Caregivers may face difficult or unpleasant challenges during their day.  Learning to maintain composure in performing unpleasant tasks is a gift of dignity to anyone who receives such care.
  • Creativity and Innovation.   Caregivers need to be creative when daily activities become mundane.  Sometimes the slightest change in daily activity will result in a different reaction from your patient or loved one.  Everyone is unique so caregivers need to understand creativity and innovation is not “one size fits all.”
  • Humor.  Having a sense of humor is a necessity for a caregiver to be successful in their duties. Caregivers are often faced with difficult and challenging situations and a sense of humor provides a way for the caregiver to stay grounded and balanced.  A sense of humor also helps the patient be comfortable and provides an atmosphere conducive to positive well-being.

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