Caregiver Dos and Don’ts — Things Every Caregiver Should Know
Being a professional caregiver takes a lot of doing. It is a profession where you are responsible for the emotional and physical well-being of another person. As such, it is a difficult and taxing career. At the same time, it can also be a highly satisfying vocation. A caregiver has a massive impact on the life of a person and is a source of immense support for the client’s family. But there is also a lot of responsibility that comes attached to this opportunity.
If you are among the scores of elderly carers in UK entering the industry every year, these dos and dont’s can help you make the most of this career. We start with the don’ts as mistakes have the power to make or break your career. As they, understand your weakness first.
Don’t Steal — This might come across as obvious and offensive to some but unfortunately, it is an experience that many elderly people report facing. The biggest hurdle to a fruitful association between you and the client is trust. The latter is letting you into their world. This calls for a kind of trust that not everyone can summon instantly without hesitation or apprehension. Numerous elders report that stealing by caregivers is one of their “biggest fears” when choosing personal assistance. It breaks trust instantly and causes irreparable harm.
Avoid Being on the Phone — The advent of cellphones and fast internet access has severely limited social interaction. People prefer to stick to their phones and gradually lose the skill of conversing and connecting with people. As a caregiver, you need to be mindful of your phone usage and how it affects the person under your care. You need to be fully present and attentive in the presence of your client. Doing so also builds trust which, as explained above, is the basis of any contented caregiver-client relationship.
Don’t Be Pigheaded — This is one of the most important things a caregiver needs to know. Being pigheaded or stubborn is not appreciated by clients. Remember that for most elderlies, learning something or assimilating a new idea is a tough ask. Age dulls everyone’s cognitive abilities, which calls for greater understanding from you, the caregiver. Be open to their ideas and show that you are willing to learn and listen to them. Keep the communication channel open with the client and their family as it helps in avoiding repetitive mistakes.
Stick to Your Contract Terms — As a caregiver, it is perfectly normal to feel the need to be at the service of your client all the time and for every little thing. However, you should try avoiding this as much as possible. In fact, personal care assistants in UK are advised to stick to the terms of their contracts and there is good ground for doing so. Providing a service that is not bound by clear payment terms and defined work hours is similar to entering an ethical and legal quagmire. It can be something as routine and mundane as mowing the lawn, but if you are asked to perform the task by your client, ensure it is included in your contract. In other words, you are not supposed to provide any service that is not described or mentioned in the contract. Remember that in case of disputes, the contract is the reference point for everything. Treat it like the Holy Grail.
Keep Your Client in the Loop — Always keep the client part of any decision governing their lives. It could be something as basic as what they eat, what they wear, what activities they participate in etc. For instance, seniors do not like too many choices. However, they do like having them. So make sure they are given simple choices. Moreover, give them time to make those choices. Do not rush them into replying to questions, making decisions or responding to any directives. Lastly, never force a client to do something. Respect their refusal unless it is a life and death situation or can adversely affect their own safety. These might seem inconsequential but when you respect a person’s agency, trust develops. And that is how you create a successful caregiver-client association.
Know Your Limitations — Knowing your client’s expectations beforehand is considered a basic requirement for any commercial transaction. And when you talk to clients about their expectations, remember to ask yourself the same questions. The importance of knowing your limitations cannot ever be overstated. If you are clear about what is within the ambit of your abilities, you can avoid future disappointments; for you as well as your clients.
Caregiving calls for a lot of empathy and compassion. But if you understand its inherent challenges and have the patience to work around them, a rewarding career in caregiving is yours for the taking.
Originally published at bdaily.co.uk on March 13, 2018.