If you’re considering becoming a professional caregiver, you may be wondering if it would be a good fit for you. There are many great reasons to pursue a career in caregiving (check out our top 10 reasons here!), and it’s a special job that can be incredibly fulfilling. But, like any vocation, it’s not for everyone. Many would be able to perform the duties described in the job description, but there are certain qualities that can dictate whether or not someone would actually be good at it and enjoy the position. And who doesn’t want to love their work and be excellent at it?
In this article, we’ll outline the traits and characteristics shared by our most successful caregivers to help you determine if caregiving is right for you.
Passion for helping others
Perhaps the most important trait is a desire to help others because first and foremost – that’s what caregiving is all about! Caregivers who truly love to help others often excel at this type of work and find great joy in it. Their passion drives them to do everything they can to ensure their clients are as happy and healthy as possible and doing so helps them feel meaning and purpose in their career. If you’re not passionate about being of service to others, it can lead to more frequent bouts of stress, frustration, and burnout.
Situations and needs can change quickly in senior care, and there are rarely two days that are the same. Great caregivers are flexible and able to adapt and respond to changes without feeling too stressed or overwhelmed. And because caregivers often have more than one client, flexibility is often needed to deal with and respond to different client personality types.
Being flexible also extends to scheduling, since senior care is a 24/7 job. While most in-home care agencies allow you to dictate your availability and choose your desired schedule, the more flexible you are, the more control you can have over the clients and type of work you get.
Enjoying variety in your work is a related trait that’s also helpful to have. There are many health conditions you may be asked to help assist clients with. In fact, at Sequoia Senior Solutions, we offer training in EIGHT different conditions that match with our specialty programs. So you will definitely get variety if you join our team as a caregiver!
One of the important aspects of a caregiving job is to provide companionship and socialization for their clients. To do this well, it’s helpful to be a “people person,” which translates to having interpersonal skills. You don’t have to be an extrovert or extremely outgoing, but having social skills and begin a good communicator will help you build a relationship with your client and reduce the feelings of isolation and loneliness seniors often feel. Communication is also important when reporting to your supervisor and interacting with the family members of your client.
Much of a caregiver’s job is listening to and paying attention to their client’s needs. This can the more obvious tasks like following the instructions in the personalized care plan, keeping the home free of trip hazards, and making sure the client is taking their medications by providing timely reminders. But attentiveness can also extend to the more subtle, meaning you may have to use your best judgement.
Seniors are often reluctant to “inconvenience” others with issues they are having and may not ask for assistance even if they need it. And sometimes they may not be able to communicate their needs directly. Being attentive and aware of issues they may be having helps you to help them. It’s even more important for anyone who suffers from a cognitive condition like dementia. Being attentive and observant of signs and symptoms as the disease progresses can go a long way toward keeping a senior healthy and potentially even increasing their life span.
We’re all aging and will get old someday, and keeping that in mind helps caregivers do their job well. This compassion and empathy (meaning that you are sympathetic about what they’re experiencing and can share in how they feel), helps caregivers feel less frustrated and stressed as they perform their duties. These traits also help foster trust between caregiver and client and can help them bond and build a relationship.
Being responsible can mean many things, but ultimately it’s about doing the things you’re supposed to do and taking accepting the outcome, whether it’s positive or negative. For caregivers, this means doing what you need to do for clients as well as following the rules of the company you’re working for. Your client and employer should be able to trust and depend on you to carry out your job duties and do your best to avoid mistakes (but be accountable if mistakes do occur).
It’s probably not surprising to learn that many seniors are not able to do things as quickly as they once did, and it’s common for them to be forgetful. What’s more, there are some seniors who are experiencing conditions that prevent them from communicating well, or that cause them to have accidents or need constant help and attention. This can be frustrating for some, so it’s important that professional caregivers are patient people.
If you have most or all these traits, caregiving is likely a great fit for you! In fact, having these characteristics is probably more important than having formal experience. After all, you can train to perform the duties of the caregiver and gain experience fairly quickly, but many of these qualities aren’t trainable. At Sequoia Senior Solutions, we pride ourselves on our training programs and are always looking for great people who have a heart for caring for others. If you’re ready to learn more about becoming a caregiver, visit our “Becoming a Caregiver” section and fill out our interest form today!