Being a caregiver is not an easy job. Not everyone is cut out for it, and there is a very specific set of caregiver skills and character traits that a good caregiver needs to have.
Here is an overview of some of the most important skills to look for when hiring caregivers.
They Have Excellent Communication Skills
Communication skills are one of the most important skill sets of a good caregiver. In their work, a caregiver has to communicate effectively not only with their clients, but also with the clients' family members, with their co-workers, doctors, and you as their employer.
Communication with all of these people requires a different approach, and it's important that a caregiver is able to switch between them easily. Even in the same day, a caregiver may need to be able to give clear instructions, soothe and calm upset clients or a family member and relay precise information about the client's health to their healthcare providers.
A caregiver is likely to encounter people with many different styles of communication, interpersonal skill levels and temperaments, and they need to be able to adapt and speak in a polite and efficient manner with all of them.
They must pay attention to detail and remember the important points they need to impart. Relaying all of the necessary information clearly is crucial, so that family members and healthcare providers are able to make informed decisions.
The same is also true for communication with other members of the caregiving team. This makes it possible for the team members to cooperate and provide high quality care to the clients.
A caregiver must also be able to communicate well in writing. Whether it's scheduling appointments, writing down information about the condition of a patient's health, or writing a report, a candidate must be just as comfortable with written communication.
Finally, a caregiver should be discreet. They are privy to extremely sensitive and personal information, and gossip is unacceptable.
They Are Not Afraid to Tackle Problems
The job of a caregiver is unpredictable and filled with challenges. It is of great importance that a candidate has excellent problem solving skills.
Even with the best organized daily schedule, circumstances sometimes change. Whether it is only a small change, or whether their day gets turned on its head, caregivers must be able to stay on top of things and solve any problems that arise. They must also be open to accepting and adapting to new routines easily.
A person that reacts to challenges with panic or frustration is not a good fit for the job. Instead, look for someone who has no problem staying calm and who actively looks for solutions in a crisis.
They Have a Positive Attitude
Even the greatest challenges are easier with a positive attitude. A caregiving relationship is one of trust, and often, comfort.
Patients and their family will feel much more comfortable and have an easier time developing a strong relationship with someone who has good interpersonal skills and a positive outlook.
In caregiving situations, patients and family members can often be scared or upset. Caregivers with a positive demeanor can help them get through these challenging moments with dignity and grace.
They Are Good at Time Management
Caregivers usually have a tightly packed schedule, especially when they are working with several patients. When it comes to providing care, most tasks on this to-do list are time-sensitive. Medication needs to be taken at a certain time, meal times are fixed, and bathing can't wait forever.
An effective caregiver is well organized and is able to respect this schedule and get everything done in a timely and efficient manner.
Life is unpredictable. Sometimes plans change, and you have to make a new plan. A person's ability to stay organized and keep on track even when that happens is invaluable.
Some caregivers even use systems to stay organized - like reminders, charts, to-do lists, or journals.
A good indicator of a candidate's time management skills is how they handle meetings and communication with you. Do they reply in a timely manner? Do they show up on time for their interview?
They Have Physical Strength
Caregiving is a very physically demanding profession. There is not much time for sitting down - there are too many tasks to complete in the course of a work day. A candidate should have stamina and be prepared to spend most of the day on their feet.
Many daily caregiver tasks require physical strength. Even an easy task such as carrying groceries requires strength.
Some tasks like bathing, help with walking, or moving patients to a wheelchair, for instance, can be especially demanding and caregivers must have the strength to be able to do them successfully.
Quality of Care is Important to Them
Good caregivers take pride in their work and hold themselves to high standards. All of the things a caregiver does directly affect their clients' lives.
Caregivers who set standards for themselves and are passionate about the quality of care bring a sense of dignity and security to their client's life.
They Approach Clients with Empathy
One of the biggest challenges for caregivers is to do their work efficiently while holding on to their empathy and compassion.
The ideal candidate for this job is someone who chooses it out of genuine desire to help people. At the end of the day, even the most challenging patient is a person, with their own feelings, wishes and fears and they deserve to be treated with compassion.
Certain skills can be learned, but the one thing caregivers should bring to the job is the ability to put themselves in another person's shoes and to treat them with kindness.
Approaching a person with empathy is always the necessary starting point, whether a caregiver is giving a patient their medication, helping them cope with negative feelings, or discussing health concerns with a client's loved one.
They Have Great Patience
Not all patients or members of their family are easy to deal with or talk to. Certain clients or tasks require patience and more empathy than others.
A caregiver's ability to stay collected even in the most challenging and frustrating situations is the thing that can help soothe even the most challenging patient and facilitate problem solving.
They Have a Keen Eye for Health Concerns
Many patients are not willing or able to communicate the changes in the way they feel. That is why a caregiver always needs to be vigilant. Someone who notices even subtle changes and variations in patterns can make a great difference to their clients' health and well-being.
Paying attention to the client's body language, actions, and appearance is just as important as listening to what they are saying. Health and safety concerns also include daily precautions like knowing how to prevent falls.
They Have Respect and Flexibility for the Clients and Their Family Members
When you work with people, your clients and their families might come from all walks of life and from many different cultures. It's important to be respectful of the differences between people and not let your own cultural biases and beliefs color your interactions and communication.
The ability to accept others and treat them with patience and compassion even when they are different from you is crucial.
They Are Reliable
Working as a caregiver means that people rely on you. A good candidate for this position will understand and respect the fact that their clients trust and depend on them.
Clients are in a vulnerable position when receiving care. That is why caregivers need to be on time, dependable, and ready to tackle their tasks and always put the client's well-being first.
They Have High Standards of Hygiene
Caregivers often need to tidy up the living space of their clients. A clean and well-organized space is one of the prerequisites of a high quality of care. Not only that, it can also brighten up your client's mood.
High standards of personal hygiene are also a must.
They Have the Caregiver Skills to Tackle Daily Duties
Apart from all of the soft skills that make someone a good fit for the job, a professional caregiver also needs to have the necessary technical skills, like a good grasp on nutrition, the techniques of patient care, and first aid. All of these are part of a caregiver's skill set that they need to fulfill their duties.
Here are some of the most common duties in the working day of a caregiver, and the practical skills needed to fulfill them.
Caregivers often help clients shop for groceries and cook their meals. They need to have a solid grasp of nutrition to be able to provide a healthy diet for them. It is very important that they also be mindful of any special dietary requirements of the client.
Sometimes a client might also need help eating their meal, so the caregiver should be able to sit and help them to eat with patience and maintaining dignity.
Help with Dressing and Undressing
Due to various health reasons, many people require help getting dressed or undressed. The degree and nature of this help depends on the nature and severity of the patient's health issues.
Keeping on Top of the Medication Schedule
Many clients need to take certain medications, sometimes several times a day. It's one of the duties of the caregiver to make sure that this schedule is adhered to, and that the client takes their medication at the proper time and in the prescribed way. This is one of the skills that caregivers in training need to demonstrate during their HCA training skills labs.
Helping with Personal Hygiene
Hygiene is very important to a person's sense of dignity. However, sometimes a client is not able to take proper care of their hygiene. Caregivers often need to help with that, whether it's bathing them, or just helping with smaller details, such as cutting their nails.
Might add a closing paragraph to wrap up and sum up? Otherwise good to go!
In addition to all of these items above, a good caregiver will take pride in their training and skills. One of Cornerstone's priorities is to provide caregivers with training that includes a holistic approach to each client. Our hope is that each caregiver becomes a true care-giver to their clients, offering empathy, compassion, and outstanding level of professional care. You can explore the caregiver courses we offer by clicking the image below.
Revised Fundamental of Care Student Workbook July 2005 with 2015 Revision written by the WA Dept of Social and Health Services