All posts tagged: professionalism

How to Be a Better Communicator

This is the first in a two part series to help in-home professional caregivers learn the fundamentals of professionalism. This article focuses on how to be a better communicator. Good communication skills are necessary for anyone to be seen and treated as a professional.

What is communication?

What does the word ‘communication’ mean to you?

If you think communication is about “talking,” you are not wrong. But talking is only one part of communicating. Communication is a way of connecting with others and sharing information.  Not only does it include “what you say,” but also “how you say it.”  Being able to communicate well is one of the most important life skills.  How well you are able to both give and receive information will demonstrate just how good your communication skills are.  

Effective Communication Is A Marketable Skill Set

Good communication in eldercare is an essential skill that employers look for. You need to be able to communicate well with your client, their family, your supervisor and your co-workers. Through communication you can gather information, build trust and request assistance.  Being able to comfortably talk with others and listen to them opens the door to cooperation and positive relationships. Learning how to be a better communicator is important. In all interactions, communication is the bridge to learning what your client, supervisor, and co-workers need and want. From introductions to day-to-day communication, you will establish many relationships. Have the courage to say what you think, and be confident in knowing that you can make good conversation.  Developing great communication skills begins with simple interactions, and like anything else, it requires practice. It is never too late to work on your communication skills and improve your quality of life.  Improving your communication skills will help all aspects of your life, from family life to social gatherings.

A Good Communicator’s Secrets

There is a secret to good and effective communication, and it includes the following key parts:
  • Verbal communication
  • Non-verbal communication
  • Being a good listener

Using Verbal Communication

How to properly introduce yourself. One critical skill everyone should be able to do well is introduce themselves. You will be introducing yourself many times throughout your workday, especially during the first few weeks of work. The first few minutes you meet someone are extremely important, because first impressions have a significant impact on your future communication with that person.
  1. Introduce yourself by using your first and last name the first time you meet someone.  It might be a good idea to wear a name badge to help others remember your name until they get to know you better.
  2. A handshake is often appropriate.  Make sure that it is firm, but not too firm.
  3. Be friendly, with a smiling face. This is much more likely to encourage communication than a blank face, or a facial expression that makes your look bored or irritated.
  4. Use a relaxed and friendly tone of voice. This will help keep you and the other person calm.
  5. Use your client’s proper name when speaking directly to or referring to them. Some clients may ask that you call them by their first name. Others may prefer that you address them by Mr. (last name) or Mrs. (last name). You should not call them by nicknames such as “honey” or “sweetheart.”

Using Non-Verbal Communication

Body language By “using” non-verbal communication, we mean how to be a better communicator without talking or using words.  One major way to communicate non-verbally is through body language, or the movements and positions you put your body in to express feelings and other information.  Remember that your “body language” will say more than words.  For instance, positive body language is more likely to encourage open communication from other people. 

Tips to using body language effectively:

  1. Your body language should match what you are saying. Even people with severe memory problems who have difficulty understanding what you say, can still “read” your body language.
  2. Establish eye contact. This means looking at the person to whom you are talking. Eye contact tells the other person you are listening and that you mean what you are saying.
  3. Want to look friendly? Smile!
  4. Nod to show that you are listening to what they are saying to you.
  5. A touch can help build a warm connection and show that you care.  Just think of something as simple as touching the older adult’s shoulder, or holding their hands. It doesn’t have to be a huge gesture. Of course, you should only touch someone if they allow you to touch them.  This shows that you respect their personal space.
  6. Keep your cell phone off and out of sight when having a conversation with your client, supervisor, or co-worker.  That way, you can keep your attention on them.

Being a Good Listener

Listening is extremely important, often more so than talking. “Active listening” requires practice and self-awareness to do well.

Essential tips for effective and active listening:

  • Be prepared to listen
  • Keep an open mind and concentrate on the speaker’s message
  • Delay judgment until you have heard everything
  • Do not be trying to think of your next question while the other person is talking.  Most of us spend more time thinking about what they are going to say next instead of listening to what the other person is trying to say.
  • Repeat back the main point of what the person said.  You can even do this in the form of a question.  Doing this helps show that you find the conversation interesting, as well as the person.  It also shows that you understand what was said and would like to learn more.
The hard work that eldercare givers perform every day is based on being a great communicator. No one who works with people can communicate ineffectively and keep up the job for long – there’s just too much personal communication involved. Learning how to be a better communicator always pays off – at work and in your personal life.  

Being a true professional is invaluable. Eldercare professionals are certified by CareAcademy.

Madhuri ReddyHow to Be a Better Communicator
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How to Handle Care Plans and Caregiver Stress

This is a final article in a multi-part series to help in-home professional non-medical caregivers learn some practical non-clinical skills on how to approach their day to day professional life. You can see Parts I, II, III, and IV. Here in Part V, we will discuss care plans and caregiver stress.

What Is a Care Plan?

Let’s discuss an essential tool for effectively doing your job:  the care plan.  The care plan is the tool that helps you to understand how to care for each of your clients who live in the home. The plan also informs the other members of your professional caregiving team about the services that each client will need. It is your direct line of communication with other members of your care team.  Think of it as a recipe card or blueprint for how to care for each client. Anyone should be able to pick up a care plan and know just how to care for the client. That is why they are so critical. The facility that hires you will specifically outline the tasks you are responsible for accomplishing while on your shift, as well as the special needs and services for each client.  This includes medical, dental, vision, hearing, and mental health services. It explains the client’s ability to take their medications, and how staff should assist. The plan will explain if the client needs help to walk, bathe, or dress, and the type of help he/she needs. The plan will also explain the social activities and other services that are specially designed for each client. The care plan must be accessible by direct care staff persons at all times.

Understanding A Care Plan

You need to understand your client’s care plan. A care plan is created specifically for each client and describes exactly what services should be provided. Included in the care plan may also be 2 important terms that you may not be familiar with:
  1. One is “DNR status”. DNR stands for “do not resuscitate” or “do not attempt resuscitation”. This refers to the older adult’s end-of-life wishes, and whether or not they would like CPR and a breathing machine if their heart stops, or if they stop breathing. Attempted resuscitation may, in many situations with older, ill adults, cause pain and suffering with little chance of recovery, so many older adults will request to have a DNR in place.
  2. “Power of attorney,” “health care proxy” or HCP for short, or “health care agent.” This is the person that the older adult has legally designated to be their substitute decision maker, should they not be competent to make their own health care decisions. This may not be their next of kin, or even a relative. It is important that this is the person, and not another family member or friend, that you speak to about your client.
It is important to follow the elder’s directions when performing tasks, even if you know a better way. Plans may also change depending on his/her needs or health status. The care plan usually lists general tasks for what needs to be done (for example, cleaning the kitchen or washing the clothes). Follow the care plan. If an older adult wants you to do something that is not listed in the plan, you need to contact your supervisor.  You may be held liable if you do something for the older adult that is not on the care plan and an accident occurs. With some services, you are only allowed to perform a certain scope of tasks for the older adult and not for family members (for instance, running errands). The best way to stay organized is to make a list of tasks that need to be done based on the care plan. Ask the older adult to prioritize the tasks that need to be done.  Ask them, “Which ones are most important?” If the older adult lists more tasks than can be accomplished in your allotted time, speak with them about what can be done on another day or by another member of the care team.

What is caregiver stress?

Make Time to Take Care of Yourself

Caregiver stress and compassion fatigue are the result of the physical and emotional exhaustion experienced by those who care for people. It is the chronic stress caused by caregiving.  Emotional impact of trauma and painful material can be contagious and transmitted through the process of empathy. If you don’t make self-care a priority, no one else will do it for you.

How do your recognize if you have caregiver stress or compassion fatigue?

Mental signs of caregiver stress may include recurring and intrusive thoughts  such as paranoia, feelings of guilt or suicidal thoughts, limited attention span, difficulty concentrating, poor work performance, or becoming easily irritated or frustrated. Physical signs may include flare-ups of high blood pressure, diabetes, headaches, back aches, chest pains, stomach problems, trouble sleeping, change in appetite, chronic tiredness, or substance abuse.

How do you manage stress on the job?

A willingness to get help is the most important part of managing caregiver stress.  
  • Recognize high stress as a normal, expected response to your work  
  • Use your supervisor for support
  • Attend training on a regular basis  
  • Network with other professional caregivers
  • Set clear boundaries and maintain limits . This is really important. Know what your job limits are, and keep your work within your work hours. Clients and families shouldn’t be calling you outside of your work hours. If that happens, let your supervisor know.
  • Connect with clients. Know that you are doing important work and think about how it must feel like to suffer the disabilities and inconveniences your older adult client does. But, even as you do this, know that it is your job and not your family – when you leave work, it’s important to then focus on yourself and your family to keep yourself well. Maintain that work/personal life balance.
  • Find meaning in your work
  • Start or join a Support Group
Other tips to taking care of yourself include: exercise (even a few minutes a day that elevates your heart rate has been shown to decrease anxiety, depression, and stress), mindfulness and meditation, deep breathing, writing in a journal, playing a musical instrument or engaging in another creative hobby, taking a hot bath, and use of aromatherapy. Spirituality, prayer, and religious gatherings can help. Get therapy from a trained professional if you find that you are unable to control your caregiver stress alone. High levels of stress can lead to job burnout, but learning to manage your caregiver stress can be a lifelong benefit.  

Earn your certification demonstrating your knowledge as a Professional Caregiver for Older Adults. Learn more, do more, care better.

 
Madhuri ReddyHow to Handle Care Plans and Caregiver Stress
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How to Be Part of an Elder Caregiver Team

This is a multi-part series to help in-home professional non-medical caregivers learn practical non-clinical skills on approaching their day to day professional life. In Part IV, we will discuss your rights as a professional caregiver and your role as a team player.

Your Rights As a Professional Caregiver

Now that you know about your responsibilities and what you should expect on the job, we will now discuss your rights.  There are several rights that you have that are protected federally and no matter what state that you live in.  As a professional caregiver, you have the right to:
  • Provide input for changes to a client’s care plan
  • Receive timely payment for services, including salary and mileage compensation (of course, where appropriate)
  • Take care of yourself
  • Work in a safe environment without workplace violence
  • File a complaint without the fear of retaliation
  • Not to be abused emotionally, sexually, financially, or physically
  • Be informed when a client files a complaint against you
  • Be entitled to a confidential investigation and a fair hearing, in addition to being told what the outcome will be, when addressing the complaints against you
 

Team Work

Caregivers are often part of a team that help to make the home run smoothly and make sure that clients receive the best care. Each caregiver needs to fulfill their responsibilities. When you begin working, it will be important to know what your responsibilities are and how to carry them out.  What’s equally important is getting to know the other workers who make up your shift or team. Professional caregivers are extremely important to the day-to-day operation of the home, in addition to being important to the clients themselves. When you are scheduled to work, the entire team is depending on you to be there, including the clients who depend on you for their basic care. When staff calls off, it slows the whole team down, and often makes it harder to get the job done. The members of the care team will vary, depending on the size and organizational structure of your agency. A likely team will consist of your direct supervisor, who may be a nurse, specialists and nutrition staff, as well as other shifts of caregiving staff.  At the center of the care team is the client, surrounded by their needs and preferences. When a team works well together, it can provide better and more comprehensive care to a client than staff members working separately. Good teams have the following traits.  They are:
  • Able to work together toward a common goal of providing the best care possible for clients
  • Communicate well with the team with each other and their clients.
  • Support of one another in caring for the client and each other.
  • Able to share responsibility and do what needs to be done attitude.
  • Striving to improve through continual learning and growth.
Working as a professional caregiver means that you are working as part of a team. The rest of the team includes the older adult, their families (spouse, adult children), supervisor, agency, and also probably others including a nurse, therapists, and your client’s physician. It is important to know when to call these other team members for help, and it’s important to have excellent communication skills.  

Being A Team Player:

As a professional caregiver you play a key role on the care team because you provide the day-to-day care for clients. You see more than anyone else about what is going on with your client. You are responsible for contacting your supervisor or others on the care team to get the help any client  needs. You need good observation skills and good communication skills to relay the information you observe about your client to other members of your team. You need to follow these steps: Watch for changes: Notice changes that may signal the need for special attention or additional care. Report all changes, including changes in a client’s needs: Reporting is when you verbally communicate observations and actions to your supervisor. This helps other members of the team keep up with your client. If you are in doubt, it is always better to report something, and always better to check if something is within your scope of your role. It’s always better to ask for help, than not ask and risk putting you, yourself, and your agency in danger. Document carefully: Documenting is the written record of what happened, what you did, and how the patient reacted. The other word for “documenting” is “charting.” If it isn’t written down or documented, it is like it wasn’t done. It can be very important to protect you legally, so make sure you write down everything. Use ink to neatly write everything that you did, as well any changes in the older adult’s condition, and whether you informed anyone (like your supervisor) or the older adult’s family. Write down what you did or didn’t do as it is written in the care plan. Sign and date all your documentation. Make sure you communicate regularly with your supervisor and the caregivers on the shifts before and after yours, so that care transitions can be made smoothly. Want to boost your entire team? Become a Certified Professional Elder Caregiver.
Madhuri ReddyHow to Be Part of an Elder Caregiver Team
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Professional Caregiver for Older Adults – Part III: Professional Boundaries

This is a multi-part series to help in-home professional, non-medical caregivers learn some practical, non-clinical skills on how to approach their day to day professional life. In Part III, we will focus on respecting professional boundaries, and your own professional responsibilities.

Elder and caregiver

Respecting Professional Boundaries

A high compliment from a client and their family is that they consider us as ‘part of the family’. This means that our clients feel like they can trust us. Sometimes, this special relationship that we have with clients at a critical moment in their lives means lines can get easily crossed. The challenge for professional caregivers is maintaining professional boundaries with someone who you’re responsible for in a client’s most intimate space: their home or rooms. There are ways to build trust without crossing boundaries. It’s a great feeling to know you can laugh and get along extremely well with a client, however, do not share problems happening in your home with your client. Often our clients may have children or grandchildren our age, they may become overly concerned with our problems, causing them to become agitated or more anxious. We do not want to make clients anxious, but instead to alleviate some of the anxiety they already have. As much as clients become part of our lives, we may want to share information about them. Do not share personal information, pictures  like names and medical conditions about your clients – and even worse, pictures – over social media. Not only is it a violation of HIPAA, but it breaks the trust of your clients. That means no pictures or selfies with clients in the background! Do not accept a tip or extra money for the work that you’ve done. Depending on your employer, gifts or bonuses may be appropriate during the holidays. Do not allow clients to purchase gifts or offer you cash, other than what you are already paid to provide care. Borrowing money or getting money from clients can lead to legal problems and questions about your ethical judgement, which is why you should refuse it if you’re ever offered. Generally, there are discussions and conversations that are off the table, unless your client feels comfortable discussing them, because they impact the way you care for them. For instance, it isn’t appropriate to discuss religion or politics. However, if it relates to your ability to provide care, then make sure you know through your agency or the family of your client.  If a client eats Kosher, a particular dietary restriction for certain observant Jews, for example, then this is something that makes sense for you to know.

Your Own Personal Responsibilities for Professionalism

It’s hard to know what can go wrong in a single day. We have all had a day where nothing seems to right. Here are some ideas to make the day go better:
  • Maintaining a positive work attitude and behavior
  • Being willing to ask for help when you need it.  Know that it is better to ask questions than do something that may be unsafe or unprofessional because you lack the skills or information.
  • Identifying strategies for how to balance work and family responsibilities.  Some strategies include arranging childcare and communicating to your supervisor when there are family emergencies.
  • Coordinating personal transportation, and making alternative plans to maintain work schedule. Also, make sure you figure out how to get to work when your reliable mode of transportation is not running.
If you’re not able to get a ride to your job or to your next client’s appointment, make sure you have a list of family members or friends that you can call in an emergency. We call this a “phone tree.” On days when you are able to help them, you will, and they may be able to help you when you’re not able to get to work. When you’re running late, contact your agency and/or client to let them know that you are having issues with transportation and that you are running late. Remember, as soon as you know you may be late, start making calls, so you can get help as soon as possible. As we’ve said, as a caregiver you demonstrate professionalism by being reliable. Imagine yourself as your own brand, and as a caregiver, you want to build a positive reputation.   What to be a Professional Caregiver? Check out Care Academy’s class!  
Madhuri ReddyProfessional Caregiver for Older Adults – Part III: Professional Boundaries
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Professional Caregiver for Older Adults – Part II: Getting to Know your Elder Client

This is a multi-part series to help in-home professional, non-medical caregivers learn some practical, non-clinical skills on how to approach their day to day professional life. In Part II, we will discuss how to get to know your elder client, communicating with your employer, maintaining your client’s privacy, and how to best manage your cell phone use.

Getting to Know Your Elder Client

Imagine being an older adult and as you get older, having to rely on a series of caregivers from your adult children to a rotating assortment of different caregivers with different names and faces. As caregivers, we need to understand that this is the reality for many of our clients. It’s important to get to know our clients on the very first day, the things that they like and don’t like; this helps them maintain a sense of connection to independence while helping to provide the best professional care. At CareAcademy we believe that you’re not just caring FOR your clients; you’re a team caring WITH your clients to help make sure they can stay at home for as long as possible. No matter if your elder client is fully cognitively intact, very active or even has dementia, on your first day make sure to greet your client and introduce yourself. Make sure to smile keeping your voice warm and inviting. Whether you’re in the home for 2 hours a week or every day, this first impression goes a long way. You are a stranger until they learn more about you and you make an attempt to learn more about them. A great way to get to know clients is to ask them to show you around their home and ask questions. For instance, a caregiver may ask a client living in their home “What is your favorite chair in the living room?” or if you’re putting something away and doing housekeeping, you could ask, “Where should I put this or where does this go?” It is a small way off offering the elder client independence while maintaining the privacy of the client that may not be ready to share with a new caregiver. Even beyond the first day, keep asking questions to make clients feel in control and opening up the lines of communication and trust. Some of the things you can try first day is to ask about likes and dislikes. If you’re making lunch ask your client what are some things that they may like to eat. If an elder client isn’t verbal or able to tell you start taking note of  some of the things that they do like. It can be a good idea to keep a journal of observations that are separate from a care plan to notice small details that may be more about likes and dislikes that help you get to better know and learn a little more about your clients.

Communicating With Your Agency or Employer

Many older clients don’t manage their own care; it’s often left to a family member such as an adult child, spouse, or other family member. Your agency may have software or a calling system and procedures about how you check in. If you have to call in to make sure that your hours are counted as starting work, make sure you do so. One of the things caregivers can do is set two alarms in the morning on a personal cell phone. The first one is to wake up, the other is to make sure that you call in or check in with your agency or clients’ family. It’s easy to get started on your day and completely forget, so make this a priority in order to build trust with your employer and make sure you’re paid for your work. Throughout the working day make sure you return any calls from your clients’ family or agency promptly and if this is your first day on the job, program all necessary phone numbers into your cell phone before you start the day.

Maintaining Your Client’s Privacy and Respect

The first day is always the best day to show how you respect your elder client in words and actions. A professional caregiver thinks about how we care not just for but WITH our clients. To think about the ways that we help care WITH our clients we can try putting ourselves in our clients’ shoes. If you relied on a caregiver for bathing or toileting, how would you want to be treated? Actions speak louder than words and whether or not there is someone else present, make sure to maintain your client’s dignity. Let’s say that you’re bathing an older adult. Make sure to close any doors or curtains before starting to bathe a client. If you’re using a washcloth use several blankets or covers to keep warm and hide any areas that you’re not cleaning. Finally, the best way to maintain dignity is to talk with your clients. Ask questions about how comfortable they may feel for instance, ask if your elder client would like to clean any hard to reach spots themselves. These little cues gives all older adults a sense of autonomy and respect and should be part of getting started the right way.

Being Present and Your Cell Phone Use

It’s very easy in this day and age to stay in contact with anyone from anywhere though smart phones and PDAs. Ironically, this makes it even harder to connect to the people right in front of us. If you’re a parent or have a loved one that seems attached to their cell phone then you know what I mean. Likewise, on the job with our clients we can get distracted by the keeping up with a legitimate distraction like a sick child or just wanting to find out the latest celebrity gossip on Twitter. However, as a professional caregiver one person is depending on you to be present right here and right now: your client. Manage your phone responsibly. If you have a personal family concern make sure family members check in with you at regular intervals to briefly update you, and schedule times strategically to check your phone or call but keep these calls very brief. If you have to be on your phone or get tempted easily, leave your phone in a closet or a place where you’re not checking it constantly. Every time you’re on your phone you’re missing some time to engage with your elder client and just like you would, they know when you’re distracted. Show professionalism in all aspects of your job and make sure to give the client your full attention. Learn more about being a being the best professional caregiver you can with CareAcademy’s new online eldercare course.
Madhuri ReddyProfessional Caregiver for Older Adults – Part II: Getting to Know your Elder Client
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Professional Caregiver for Older Adults – Part I: Responsibilities

This is a multi-part series to help in-home professional, non-medical caregivers learn some practical, non-clinical skills on how to approach their day to day professional life. In Part I, we will focus on the definition and responsibilities of a professional caregiver and explore how to approach your first day on the job. Whether you’re an experienced caregiver or brand new, your clients always present new challenges to grow and learn.

Professional Caregiver Definition

Let’s start with defining what exactly it means to be a professional in-home, non-medical caregiver. A professional caregiver is someone whose career is to assist another person in a way that enables them to live as independently as possible. Professional caregivers can go by many different job titles.  Home health care refers to care provided in the home by a licensed medical professional, such as a nurse or physical therapist. Non-medical in-home care focuses on helping older adults with the daily activities they need to engage in life and remain safe and healthy. Professional caregivers who do not have a medical license generally can perform these tasks like feeding, bathing, and have an extremely important job since they are on the front lines and provide direct care.   Being a professional caregiver can be a rewarding career, but is also heavy and hard work, tiring and lonely if you are not prepared. Our goal is to help you learn professional skills so that you can feel confident whether you’re a veteran refreshing your skills or you’re new to caregiving.

Profesional Caregiver Responsibilities

What you can and cannot do as a professional caregiver depends on two main factors:  The first, who your employer is, and the second being the setting where you are working. Remember that each agency has its own policies and procedures, so what you do when working for one agency may not be the same as what you are allowed do for another agency; and always refer to your handbook or your hiring manager when you run into those gray areas. Your responsibilities are different depending on the care setting where you are providing care: a private home, assisted living, or a skilled nursing facility. In a home, you will usually be helping with personal care (such as grooming and bathing) and helping the older adult remain as independent as possible (by helping with such things as meal preparation and light housekeeping). Being a professional caregiver means having high professional standards. Your behavior, professionalism and boundaries affect your relationship with your clients. Let’s take a look at everything that you can do to make the first best impression with the a day in the life of a caregiver.
  • Appearance Let’s say that it’s your first day of meeting a new client. As professional caregivers, every meeting of a new client is like a new job interview. Make sure to maintain a high standard of personal health, hygiene and professional physical appearance. This can mean different things for different people but for a caregiver it generally means: keep your hair kempt, wear small or no jewelry, wear clean and professional clothes (for example, slacks and a shirt or sweater that isn’t tight or revealing) and closed toes shoes. Packing an extra set of clothes for the day is often a good idea – there are so many things that may happen throughout the day with your clients and you want to be prepared to stay clean and comfortable.
  • Arriving in Your Client’s Home On the first day, think about how to make the situation as comfortable for the client and yourself as possible. Try and arrive 10 to 15 minutes early to get a chance to meet anyone at the home whether it is someone from the agency or a family member. Typically, someone will be there to meet you and get you started. If you have personal items like purses and backpacks, you might want to leave them in your car or in the client’s front closet to avoid forgetting anything or any confusion between your things and the client’s personal things.
  • Washing Your Hands The importance of washing your hands can never be overstated and it is something you should be prepared to do throughout the day. Before you start your first day, take 30 seconds to wash your hands before you begin working with your client. By the time you arrive at the home, you’ve touched a lot of surfaces and your clients who are often older may be at risk for infection. Wash your hands to make a first strong impression and also to keep you and the older adult healthy. Make sure that you get underneath those fingernails too!
Learn more about being a professional caregiver with CareAcademy’s new online eldercare course.
Madhuri ReddyProfessional Caregiver for Older Adults – Part I: Responsibilities
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How to be a Professional Eldercare Provider

When my mother came home from rehab, we hired a caregiver to come in. Though, we lived together and I worked from home, Mom needed a little extra help than I was able to give. The professional eldercare provider who came in to help was great. However, she was also just a bit over-involved in our family interactions. Though she was kind and friendly, she lost her focus on coming into our home to help and support my mother. After our professional eldercare provider became comfortable, her work ethic slacked quite a bit. Having both worked and trained on in-home visitation for parent educators, I know how easy it is to allow yourself to become pulled in and lose your professional edge.

Caring for people no matter their age often comes from a place of compassion. Yet, being professional is also required.

Compassion is about interactions with the person being cared for and their family. Keep in mind this person has lived their whole life independently. The fact that a caregiver has been hired shows, in some respects, that the elder is now limited or needs complete 24/7 assistance. In addition, family members are also understandably shaken, because these services are needed. Being friendly, courteous, and attentive to the needs of the client can ease the tension and concerns families have in the situation.  

Offering the Appropriate Amount of Compassion

Being a compassionate and professional eldercare provider requires four aspects of care.

  • Pay close attention to the needs of the client. Sick and elderly people are sometimes not able to effectively communicate. Keeping your focus on not only their words, but their body language and facial expressions makes a big difference in being able to recognize and meet their needs.
  • Be supportive in giving help where it’s needed. Make sure to always ask if help is needed. Work hard to ensure that doubt about the client’s abilities is not present in your tone.
  • Be courteous. Use please and thank you. As a worker in the client’s home, it is important to be courteous and respectful. They may say “Make yourself at home,” however staying in the role you were hired for will not allow you to lay on their couch drinking a soda.
  • professional eldercare providerBe friendly to family members. Whether living in the home or not, relatives have a relationship with the client. Part of your role is to lay a smooth road for visitors. If the client is feeling extra ill or moody help family members transition into a visit. Be professional and helpful in ways in which the role calls to be handled.
There is a danger when a caregiver is in someone’s home on a regular basis of becoming too involved in their family life. Every person involved with in-home visitation struggles with this at some point or another. The more comfortable a person becomes, the easier it is to slip professionally. The problem with this is that the caregiver’s role is not to be a friend, but to provide a service. Avoid becoming over-involved by keeping in mind that the client hired a professional caregiver for his/her expertise. In business, there are two types of consumers: clients and customers. Clients purchase your expertise, whereas customers purchase general goods and services. Thinking in this context, the person and the family that you are there to help are your clients. As such, they deserve a professional eldercare provider, not a new best friend.  

How to be a Professional Eldercare Provider

Being professional does not mean being stiff or formal. It means your main focus is on the job at hand and on always getting it done well. A professional eldercare provider presents herself in the following ways.

  • Focus on your job responsibilities. After coming into the home with a pleasant greeting, it is important to have friendly and pleasant interactions. However, the main role is to offer assistance as needed. Meeting all of the client’s needs should be a priority at all times.
  • Use proper language and a respectful tone when interacting with clients. People often treat the elderly as if they are children. However, they are adults who deserve to be treated as such. Setting this example of respect and courtesy encourages others to follow your example.
  • Ask and answer questions based on your knowledge and experience. You have been hired to offer support for the client and their family. When it comes to dealing with issues, you are the expert in the area, so be willing to answer questions. In addition, ask questions. The more questions you ask, the easier it will be to meet the needs of your client.
  • Maintain a professional role in the home by keeping the client’s personal life separate. Try to avoid deep conversations about personal matters which are not related to the job. There can be a fine line between being pleasant and becoming a confidant. The former crosses a line, which should not be allowed.
When providing in-home services you will develop a certain comfort level with your clients. It should be both expected and welcomed. The key to being a compassionate, professional eldercare provider is to also maintain a demeanor that always remembers your client needs your expertise above all else. Keep in mind your primary role is to provide just that.  

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Barbara HarveyHow to be a Professional Eldercare Provider
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