As a family member or friend who is getting ready to hire a professional caregiver, you will want to be prepared to choose someone who will be a good fit for your loved one. It can be a challenge to predict who will connect and be the best person, but there are some important traits to look for in a good professional caregiver. Here are seven of the best qualities to look for in caregivers, so that on day one with a new caregiver, you’ll know it's a great fit.
A responsible caregiver is a mindful, conscientious person who truly cares about clients. Every caregiver has specific client tasks. A responsible caregiver not only attends to those tasks but can step in and respond to other needs without being told to.
Responsibility also entails dedication to company requirements such as being on time and attending employee training. It means accepting responsibility and not blaming other people when things don’t go well, or a mistake is made.
Integrity means being honest. Unfortunately, there are plenty of stories of great caregivers who were dishonest and took advantage of vulnerable clients. It doesn’t matter how good a caregiver is if they have no integrity. Hiring a caregiver from a company ensures a much greater chance that your caregiver has integrity since they have had a criminal background check.
A caregiver with integrity will report anything unusual such as a client attempting to give them money or being asked to do something that is outside a caregiver’s professional scope of practice.
Professionalism entails having pride in the caregiving profession. It also involves having a clean and neat appearance, acting with respect, and using language that isn’t offensive or inappropriate.
Another aspect of being professional is setting good boundaries. This means not allowing a client to get too emotionally attached. Some clients bond so well with a caregiver that they start to view them as family members. There is nothing wrong with being close to a professional caregiver, but you want a caregiver who doesn’t cross the line and accept gifts or money.
Another way in which a caregiver can violate boundaries is by doing things for a client that are not part of their tasks or may even be disallowed by state regulations. A good caregiver will ask their supervisor if they are unsure about what may be appropriate.
Taking care of a client’s most personal needs can get frustrating. Your family member might have dementia. Dementia may cause agitation or significant memory loss, so you want a caregiver who is patient with these frustrations and doesn’t panic in an urgent or difficult situation.
Everyone gets exasperated from time to time, but a good caregiver can manage emotions. Clients can get demanding and angry. A patient caregiver does not take these emotions personally but understands that this is a normal response to the loss of abilities.
Empathy is the human emotion of being able to understand and share in the feelings of another person. Without empathy, it is very challenging to connect with another person. An aging loved one’s experience may be very different than the caregiver that is working with them.
Aging sometimes entails the loss of independence, function, and friends. A good caregiver can empathize with these feelings, which helps make a stronger connection between caregiver and client. Empathy also fosters a trusting relationship between caregiver and client.
Every caregiver brings a set of skills to a caregiving situation. An outstanding caregiver can pivot if need be to adapt to a changing situation. There are times when a caregiver may need to change course and respond to a different set of client needs even during a single day. When a client is giving feedback to a caregiver, it is important for the caregiver to receive that information and have the ability to change course based off what the client’s needs are.
A flexible mindset is a valuable caregiver trait because your loved one’s needs and wants don’t stay the same. If the changing tasks are within the caregiver’s scope of practice, assessing the situation and responding accordingly shows flexibility.
Flexibility is also the ability to respond to different client personality types. It is not uncommon, for example, for a client to be the quiet type while the caregiver is more outgoing. A flexible caregiver can adapt to the client’s personality.
A sense of optimism is the belief the glass is half full. The expression of optimism will differ with each caregiver, but the underlying emotion is one of positivity. This is especially important in a client caregiver dynamic where the client is dependent upon the caregiver.
Optimism is the necessary quality to encourage a better mood and improve functioning. A “can do” attitude can have a profound influence on your family member’s situation and their desire to do better.
A Good Professional Caregiver is Invaluable
There is no perfect caregiver. However, by identifying and looking for these qualities in a professional caregiver, you will have a good chance of finding the right person for your loved one. At Home Care Assistance, caregivers are the heart and soul of our company. We have a team dedicated to recruiting, screening, and training the very best caregivers to take care of your aging loved one. We ensure a personality match with your loved one and their caregiver and will not change your caregiver as long as you’re satisfied.