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A Caregiver’s Toolbox

May 16, 2012

Most professions involve tools. What tools do you carry in your toolbox as you do your work as a caregiver? Make no mistake–it is work, whether you’re volunteering, paid, or doing some type of exchange. The work you do as a volunteer is worthwhile, has extreme value, and should be thought of as a profession. If your caregiving is done as a volunteer or for a family member you may never have thought of it as a profession.

The Pocket Oxford Dictionary Eighth Edition gives this definition for the word profession:

profession (noun) 1. vocation or calling, esp. learned or scientific. 2. people in a profession. 3. declaration or avowal.

Hopefully this will now show you how important it is that you consider your role as a professional.  Once you have accepted and declared yourself to be a caregiver you need to evaluate the tools you need in order to do the job well.

Compassion is a key tool and is often the reason behind the desire to assist as a caregiver.

A Soothing Demeanor aids in calming people who are in pain, allows you and your family member/client/patient to evaluate situations and reach viable outcomes.

A Willingness to Communicate is essential for open discussions with other family members, members of the medical team (such as doctors, nurses, pharmacies, and case managers), insurance companies, other care team members, and all interactions with society.

Physical Strength is often needed to assist with activities of daily living as well as to complete the tasks necessary in order to provide optimal care.

Mental Strength aids in problem solving as well as assisting the caregiver to deal with the challenges in dealing with multiple people and often multiple health issues.

Ethics. Not all caregivers have strong ethics, but in order to be a good caregiver (meeting the needs of your family member/client/patient) I feel ethics are of utmost importance. The person you are caring for needs to believe that you will do the right thing on their behalf. Honesty, integrity, and respect are all items I include in this tool.

Strength of Will is another tool that will assist the caregiver in attaining positive outcomes during the course of care. There are times when you may know your family member/client/patient better than the doctor who is suggesting a care regimen you know will not be successful or which will not be accepted. Another possible scenario may involve a family member who wants to impose unacceptable limits or take advantage of your family member/client/patient. In order to deal with these situations you will have to stand firm, but with tact and perseverance.

Boundaries. This tool is probably the most important. You must know your own boundaries in terms of how much you can give. In setting your personal boundaries you ensure that you are always providing the best care possible without compromise.

As we continue exploring “Caring for the Caregiver” during the rest of May each of these topics will be explored in further detail.
Do you have additional tools you’d like to have discussed? Feel free to share suggestions, stories, or your ideas in the COMMENT section.

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