What are the most Important Caregiver Skills?
Professional caregivers have a lot to say about what makes a great caregiver. Surprisingly, their advice has little to do with skills like bathing and dressing a person. Instead, the most important caregiving skills are interpersonal skills.
Just a few skills to work on:
- Respect the senior’s knowledge and abilities
Remember that your patients are not children and you do not need to teach or train them. Most of your patients do know what is going on in their world, they just might need some help in doing the task. Not being told how to do the task.
When caring for a senior with dementia or general cognitive decline, it can be tempting to try to “teach” them how to do things like hold a fork or bathe themselves. However, a person with cognitive issues generally is not capable of learning or retaining new things; their goal is to maintain the abilities they still have.
Your intentions may be good in trying to help a senior recover lost skills, but the result may be frustration or anger. Instead of trying to “teach” clients how to perform certain activities, do it the way they ask you to (keeping safety in mind, of course). When you do things the client’s way, you validate them on an emotional level, and that has a tendancy to build trust and cooperation.
- Be patient and flexible
There is no single “right” way to do anything. If you keep this thought top-of-mind, you can stay flexible and experiment with multiple approaches until you find one that works with the senior entrusted to your care.
Remember, your client’s rejection of a particular technique is not a rejection of you, as a person. Flexibility helps you keep your ego out of the situation and might lead to better care for your client.
- Commit to a relationship
Building a relationship takes a bit of time and effort, but the rewards are immense. Listen intently to what your senior has to say. Get to know them as a person and what their past was. Knowing how their world worked and how they related to it can help you reach them on a deeper level and gain trust
When you build interpersonal relationships with clients, you can learn what matters most to them and anticipate their needs. There are many ways to foster a relationship with your client: ask to look at old family photos together, take note of which books, television programs or games they enjoy, observe how they respond to stressors. And don’t forget to share something about yourself, too. Trust is a two-way street.
- Foster respect and positivity
Respect, Respect Respect !!!
Many seniors say they feel ignored or that they “just don’t matter”. They may be less able to go out in public due to physical or cognitive decline, and when they do go out they may feel shame as to their condition. Your job is to build their confidence and remind them of who they are.
You can ease these blows to self-esteem by cultivating a respectful and genuinely caring relationship. Be observant to changes in the senior and his or her environment. Compliment little things, such as an item of clothing or flowers sprouting in the garden. Calling these small things to your client’s attention conveys your care and concern for them.
Professional caregivers should be competent in the skills required to provide assistance with activities of daily living. But cultivating your interpersonal skills can foster a trusting relationship that takes your caregiving to the next level.
You can be the most important person in that seniors life. Treat them with respect and dignity. They earned it, Even when they are having a bad day. Remember who they are and where they came from. They have some amazing stories to tell… LISTEN !!!