Caregivers are the face of your organization. Therefore, hiring talent that accurately represents your company’s values and mission is imperative to growing your business. So what do you need to look for when hiring a caregiver? While tangible skills will first come to mind, there are many intangible skills that are just as critical the hands-on expertise that you may be looking for in a new hire. In talking with agencies, the three top skills that yield the most ROI are professionalism, empathy, and strong communication skills.
That being said, these three qualities can be subjective. That’s why it’s important for your agency to define how caregivers can exemplify these skills and provide feedback on how caregivers can best demonstrate and model these skills to achieve success. Here is a quick guide on the top three skills you should look for in your recruitment efforts and how you can translate these intangibles in to concrete, achievable actions for you caregivers.
Being professional is typically defined as one’s level of courtesy, honesty and reliability, the depth of which may be bolstered by your company’s culture and work environment. Evaluating a person’s moral and ethical character can be a challenge so when recruiting talent, focus on individuals who pride themselves on having high standards for care and who understand the importance of their role is in the lives of the families they care for.
When interviewing, try to ascertain the following:
How will the caregiver respond to changes or difficult situations? Changes could be as simple as a cancelled or rescheduled appointment to more complex situations like a medical emergency. Understanding how flexible your caregiver can be as well as their ability to perform under stress can help you hire the right candidate and match caregivers and clients effectively.
How will the caregiver handle personal emergencies or situations? If your caregiver needs to call in sick, plans to arrive late or their car breaks down, find out what tactics they will use to ensure their client is not left unattended.
How will the caregiver manage conflict? From time to time, caregivers may have to deal with issues that affect the caregiver/client relationship. This may be due to a cognitive issue or a general disagreement that requires a swift resolution and escalation procedures. Try to understand how your new recruit has tackled this issue before and achieved a positive outcome.
Overall, it is important to understand how your potential candidate will conduct themselves in a variety of scenarios and how they will leverage agency protocols to ensure the safety and well-being of their client and limit any liabilities for your agency.
Caregivers are typically engaging with clients during a sensitive and vulnerable time in their lives. Empathetic caregivers are able to tap into their emotions and put themselves in the place of their client using intuition and compassion as their catalyst. Therefore, home care agencies should look for home care workers who are able to build strong connections and develop trusted relationships with their clients.
So how can you tell if your new recruit truly cares? While empathy should come naturally for anyone in this field, in some ways empathy can be a learned trait through active listening, sharing experiences and being patient.
Active listening can help the caregiver learn more about their client and build a good rapport. If the caregiver knows more about the client the caregiver can have more information to help the client live a comfortable and enjoyable life.
Sharing experiences fosters trust and understanding. It could be as simple as asking about their day or delving into deeper topics of conversation, but the simple act of sharing helps form deeper bonds between caregiver and client.
Patience is born out of kindness and consideration. Patience is a trait that shows how much the caregiver cares about and respects the client, particularly when trying to help someone maintain their independence at home.
Building these strong and trusting relationships might take some time but will ultimately lead to better customer experiences, higher job satisfaction among your caregivers, and a positive reputation for your agency.
Strong Communication Skills
A caregivers main goal should be to connect meaningfully with their clients and to do so, caregivers must be able to communicate clearly and effectively. In doing so, caregivers will be able to prevent injuries, save lives and build stronger bonds between the client, agency and caregiver. As a result, caregivers need to be active listeners who are responsive to non-verbal cues and non-judgmental in their interactions with clients. Here are three examples of how agencies can help direct caregivers into being communication role models:
Be Engaged Caregivers must give their full attention to their client by actively conversing, providing feedback and delivering non-verbal cues such as smiles and eye contact to demonstrate they are true partners with the family.
Be Present: By being an active listener and engaging with the client, caregivers will become uniquely attuned to their client’s needs or changes in behavior that can provide important clues in improving their care, which can in turn be shared with family members or medical professionals.
Be Candid: The ability to be clear and direct with clients and the people around them including their family, doctors or the agency is an important aspect of being a caregiver and one that can literally save a life.
Cultivating Top Skills
Professional caregivers are vital to the growth of your business And finding the right candidates to represent your business will continue to be a ongoing challenge as the demand exceeds supply. By outlining the representative skills that serve as the foundation for your agency’s reputation, you will differentiate your company from your competitors when it comes to recruiting talent and delivering care.
Whether you hire caregivers with years of experience or those who are just starting out, defining what it means to be a team member of your agency is paramount to growth. While you won’t always be able to find the perfect candidates, you can teach them these important skills and provide them with the tools to be successful in the field. Seek out training programs that not only cover the technical skills of being a caregiver, but one that also provides content focused on developing and improving the soft skills that are the definition of care. Add a training module as part of your onboarding process as well as part of their annual recertification certification. By formalizing this level of training, your agency can set standards that will ensure the delivery of professional empathetic caregivers who are strong communicators — all of which will make your your agency highly effective and efficient while creating a strong support system of caregivers.