Characteristics and Abilities of a Good CaregiverPosted: May 2, 2014
In response to Joy Johnson’s post (See below): 5 required skills for the toughest job in the world / LinkedIn
I was primary caregiver for my mother-in-law. After my responsibility ended, I wrote a book about caregiving: “What to Do about Mama?” by Barbara G. Matthews and Barbara Trainin Blank. As stated in Chapter Ten:
We are addressing here the characteristics and abilities of a good caregiver, under the premise that if you are a caregiver, these are qualities you may well already embody. And, if indeed, you feel you are lacking in some of them, we recommend that you work on developing them. They are attributes that not only facilitate performing your caregiving responsibilities but also can potentially enrich all your relationships.
1. Love, care, and compassion: First of all, and perhaps most importantly, caregivers have the ability to love, to care, and to have compassion. If you lacked these qualities, you probably wouldn’t be in the position of caregiving.
2. Commitment to family: Beyond the ability to love, caregivers have a strong commitment to family—and that family may include not only the nuclear family, but also extended family and in-laws.
3. Problem-solving: It’s important to know how to identify a problem, consider solutions, develop a plan of action, and put that plan into practice with determination and a “can-do” attitude. If they don’t have the knowledge needed, caregivers do not hesitate to research and discover how to solve problems.
4. Application of knowledge and skills: Caregivers often have a good base of knowledge from their professional or volunteer experiences in various caregiving or human services fields. Caregivers use what they know or learn to be better caregivers. They secure needed goods and services and advocate with healthcare professionals and institutions.
5. Strong work ethic: Caregivers wear many hats in executing their caregiving duties. They accomplish this vast array of tasks by being focused, consistent, and willing to carry through with their commitments.
6. Understand how much they can handle. Look beyond the current situation and anticipate how the demands of caregiving will increase as the care receiver becomes more debilitated. Make sure you consider your ability to handle future burdens. Caregivers must know how to set boundaries and request support whenever they find they are unable to deal with a situation or challenge on their own.
7. Effective communication. Caregivers communicate honestly and openly with all who are involved in the caregiving arrangement.
8. Ability to empower and facilitate. Caregivers respect the care receiver’s abilities and encourage independence. They provide the support needed for the care receiver to participate in life activities as fully as possible.
I’ve been writing some articles on the LinkedIn platform. When I was brainstorming content ideas, it struck me how many common workplace skills are needed when serving as a family caregiver. Of course, there are many more new skills that you will be required to learn on the fly! In my LinkedIn piece, I highlight five skills I found invaluable while serving as a family caregiver and patient advocate.
You can check out my piece here:
What skills do you find most helpful as you carry out your caregiving duties? What new skills were the most difficult to learn in order to be a successful caregiver?