Aware Senior Care Blog

qualities of a professional caregiver

The Qualities of a Professional Caregiver: 12 Essentials to Look For

Bringing a caregiver in to help with a family member isn’t always an easy task. Naturally, you want the most experienced and trained caregiver possible. Unfortunately, not a lot of families know what qualities to look for in a professional caregiver.

what makes a great caregiver

What Makes a Great Professional Caregiver?

You want to consider a number of characteristics including specific personality traits and educational background to ensure they are the best fit for the job. Here are some qualities to look for in a great caregiver.

Compassion

Compassion and connection are part of the Aware Senior Care WHY. Providing personal and non-medical care is part of how we meet our clients’ needs.  But, supporting them emotionally and taking part in daily activities are important aspects of care. Having compassion for someone means to have an understanding of what someone is going through. When choosing a caregiver, you want them to have compassion for not only the person they’re caring for, but the whole family as well.

This provides peace of mind to families. Above all, they know that their loved ones are being cared for as if they were our family, too.

Trustworthiness

Trust is essential to have with a caregiver because caregivers are in a position that allows them to have access to the home, as well as personal belongings. It is important that the caregivers are certified, trained, and qualified to meet the unique needs of seniors in the home.

Furthermore, carefully vetting a caregiver is vital to reducing the risk of negative outcomes in care. State and national background checks, drug tests, and DMV records are helpful in this regard. Have a potential caregiver provide personal and professional references and check them thoroughly.

You also want to be confident that they will not take advantage of the person they’re caring for, or the situation they are in. Unfortunately, elder abuse can often go undetected if due diligence isn’t done in screening caregivers. Not only will trust help ease your mind, but it works to lay the foundation of a strong relationship between your family members and the caregiver.

Patience

Being a caregiver is not always an easy job. No two people are alike and for some seniors, they may not initially be receptive to receiving care. A professional caregiver is loving and compassionate even during stressful and challenging times. It is a skill developed by consistently putting the needs of others over your own, which can be a difficult task for some.

Caregiver Training: Repetitive Questions | UCLA Alzheimer's and Dementia Care Program

Watch this video on YouTube.

There will be good and bad days, and at times the person they care for might be hesitant to receive care. Having patience is necessary to avoid frustration or acts of aggression.

Empathy

“Empathy fuels connection. Sympathy drives disconnection.”

“Recognizing emotion in other people and then communicating that. Empathy is feeling WITH people.”

-Brené Brown

Brené Brown on Empathy

Watch this video on YouTube.

It is possible that your loved one might become frustrated or embarrassed as their ability to care for themselves decreases. Your caregiver should be able to recognize that this is common among seniors who require care. Empathy gives them the ability to understand these feelings and maybe even share experiences that help your loved one feel better about the situation.

Communication Skills

There are two types of communication skills that you want your caregiver to possess; verbal and nonverbal.

Verbal Communication

We as human beings verbally communicate using sounds and words to express ourselves. A caregiver should have excellent verbal communication skills.

They must be able to communicate with your loved one and with your entire family as well.

It’s natural to want to feel involved and understand the process of caregiving, so ensure your caregiver is equipped with the skills to help you do so.

verbal communication

Examples of Good Verbal Communication:

  • Clear enunciation and speaking slowly enough to be understood
  • Responses and questions are said in a calm and reassuring manner
  • Always identifying yourself and the person being cared for when speaking
  • Being encouraging, especially when your client is having trouble expressing themselves

Nonverbal Communication

This communication skill is important to have because many people can pick up on these social cues.

From HelpGuide:

Whether you’re aware of it or not, when you interact with others, you’re continuously giving and receiving wordless signals. All of your nonverbal behaviors—the gestures you make, your posture, your tone of voice, how much eye contact you make—send strong messages. They can put people at ease, build trust, and draw others towards you, or they can offend, confuse, and undermine what you’re trying to convey. These messages don’t stop when you stop speaking either. Even when you’re silent, you’re still communicating nonverbally.

Examples of Nonverbal Communication:

  • Gestures
  • Facial expressions
  • Tone of voice
  • Eye contact (or lack thereof)
  • Body language
  • Posture
  • Any other way people communicate without using language

You want to avoid hiring a caregiver who expresses frustration and disinterest with nonverbal communication. On the flip side, you want your caregiver to give positive nonverbal communication to make your loved one feel comfortable and heard.

Professionalism

The role of caregiving is no exception to requiring a certain level of professionalism. A caregiver should be on time, dressed neatly, and ready to assist according to the agreed upon duties.

Part of being a professional caregiver is keeping the focus on the client. It can be easy to form a close relationship with your caregiver. However, you want to ensure they know when to be professional and when it’s time to be relaxed. It is not permissible for caregivers to share their personal problems or needs with the client.

A caregiver who understands professionalism will be able to clearly define their role as a caregiver.

Integrity

Integrity is about being honest and doing the right thing which is our most important core value – do the right thing.

Definition: Integrity means following your moral or ethical convictions and doing the right thing in all circumstances, even if no one is watching you. Having integrity means you are true to yourself and would do nothing that demeans or dishonors you.

Flexibility

Life does not always go according to plan and caregiving is no exception. You want your caregiver to be flexible if there are changes to plans. Sometimes, a senior may need care for much longer than anticipated. Or they might not need care at all. It’s important to anticipate things not panning out the way everyone was hoping for.

Optimism

It’s common for aging family members who need care to start to lose their optimism. A caregiver who can radiate happiness and optimism can make a huge positive impact on your loved one.

Joy

At Aware Senior Care, we emphasize to caregivers the importance of bringing “joy” into the lives of the clients they care for.  Many clients are suffering from chronic illness, depression or Alzheimer’s and it’s difficult for them.  There’s nothing like a person that comes into your presence with a smile with a purpose of bringing joy to the person they are helping.  Joy, in Aware speak has two aspects:

  1. Our caregivers get great joy in what they are doing (joy is “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness”)
  2. Our clients have the same feeling because they have a caregiver who genuinely cares for them and they can feel the “joy” coming from their caregiver.  So they experience joy when our caregiver comes to be with them.

Expertise

A caregiver’s academic advancements and certifications aren’t the only qualities that make them amazing at what they do. Check and see what training and certifications they have achieved so far in their careers. Continuing education and additional training on top of the state’s minimum requirements are usually good measurements of quality.

Specific Experience

Finding a caregiver who has experience with specific conditions that your loved one has can be beneficial. For example, your loved one has diabetes. A caregiver familiar with caring for someone with diabetes is better equipped to handle the daily routine. Keep in mind that this quality isn’t a necessity. But, it can be a nice bonus on top of their education and expertise.

where to find an in home caregiver

Where to Look for an In Home Caregiver

Now that you have an idea of what qualities make up a great caregiver. You can begin your search to find the perfect match for your family.

At Aware Senior Care, we are dedicated to helping your family through a difficult time. Please reach out if you need assistance with transitioning a loved one into in-home care.

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