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What Skills Do You Need to Be a Caregiver?

Being a caregiver is a rewarding career path. However, it’s not for everyone. It takes a unique blend of skills and abilities, along with a strong desire to help others. If this sounds like the kind of work that’s a good fit for you, you may be wondering what kind of hard and soft skills you will need to get a caregiver job? Here’s a look at a few:

Hard Skills You’ll Need As a Caregiver

Physical Strength: Caregivers perform many physical tasks and duties each day that require strength and stamina. Some of these include helping an individual with mobility issues, assisting with bathing and dressing, carrying groceries and performing light housekeeping chores. You’ll be on your feet for much of your workday, requiring a high level of energy to tackle all your responsibilities.

In addition, if you have evening or overnight shifts, you’ll need to be able to stay awake and alert, standing by ready to help your client. This is an active job that requires a physically healthy, high-stamina individual.

First Aid & CPR: As a caregiver, it’s likely you’ll encounter an emergency situation at some point in your career. You’ll need to know the proper steps to take with First Aid and CPR training.

Many clients will be elderly or chronically ill and can fall, get hurt or suffer from a stroke or heart attack. It’s critical to know what to do in these situations, whether it’s tending to a minor cut or performing CPR until emergency responders arrive. To become certified in CPR and First Aid, you’ll need to enroll in a training certification course.

Soft Skills You’ll Need As a Caregiver

Empathy: Empathy is the ability to step into another person’s shoes and feel what they are experiencing. It is an important skill to have since it will help you tune into your client so you know what they need, even when they’re not able to articulate it. Empathy is at the core of good caregiving because it helps you to better understand what your client is going through and provide the proper level of care.

Compassion: Compassion is another critical part of being a caregiver and goes hand-in-hand with empathy. When you’re empathetic, you can understand how the person feels and then treat them with compassion. This means you’ll show them kindness, respect and love so they maintain their dignity. It also means you’ll work hard to alleviate their pain, distress or whatever is ailing them so they’re more comfortable. A caring, compassionate heart is an absolute must-have to become an effective caregiver.

Communication: Excellent communication skills are vital. This includes your ability to listen – to the individual you’re caring for and their family – as well as other members of that person’s care team, like a doctor or a nurse. You’ll also need to feel comfortable interacting with families, reporting on progress and accurately explaining new situations to them as their loved one’s needs change. This is important to ensuring your client is getting the right level of care to remain safe and healthy. It also helps to improve your relationship with the individual you’re caring for and their family.

Flexibility: A client’s condition can change quickly. It’s why you have to be flexible when it comes to how you approach the job. One shift might go smoothly, while the next one is filled with challenges. You must be able to adapt as needed and still stay positive and professional.

When it comes to scheduling, flexibility is also important since caregiving is often delivered in the evenings, overnight and on weekends. It’s not always a nine-to-five job. The ability to be flexible and solve problems will be a big part of your day.

Organization: When you’re a caregiver, you’re not sitting at a desk with your supervisor monitoring you. Your work is performed independently, often in an individual’s home, which means it is up to you to prioritize tasks and manage your time wisely so you can complete all of your responsibilities during your shift. It’s also critical you show up on time so the people you’re caring for and their families come to trust and rely on you.

Observation: Being observant is another skill that is key to being an effective caregiver. Observing when an individual isn’t eating as much as they usually do, if there are new hazards in the home or if living conditions are messier than usual are all important. You should also be aware of new physical changes, like an increase in fatigue or irritability.

During each visit, part of your job is to keep a sharp eye out for any of these and other red flags or warning signs. You’ll then have to report them to your employer and to the individual’s family. This can help you and the whole care team stay on top of new issues as they’re emerging and before they escalate into a dangerous situation. In fact, a keen eye can save a person’s life.

Patience: Caregiving is going to test your patience. You’ll have situations that are frustrating and often occur after a long day on your feet, whether it’s from messes that require clean-up to an irrational reaction from the person you’re caring for. No matter what happens, you must remain patient, positive and upbeat. You can vent when you’re off the clock, but will need to remain focused, calm and able to handle many different stressors during any given day.

A Love of People: Working as a caregiver means you’re going to be interacting with another person all the time. While you’ll need to help in practical ways, like preparing meals and grocery shopping, you’ll also be providing companionship, conversation and emotional and social support. If you are not a “people person,” caregiving is likely not the best fit for you. It’s important you’re the type of individual who can build camaraderie, trust and respect with your client, so their needs are met.

Clearly, being a caregiver requires a special person, someone with a big heart for others. If this sounds like it would be a good match for your personality and abilities, consider a job at FirstLight® Home Care.

We are actively hiring across our many locations and always on the lookout for those who want to make everyday life easier for the clients we serve. While previous experience is preferred, we do offer paid training and ongoing education opportunities.

If you’re interested in learning more about being a caregiver and the jobs available in your local area from FirstLight Home Care, contact us today.

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