Knowing Your Team

Many times, when working for various agencies as well as in private care, I’ve encountered other caregivers who were taking care of the same client, except on different shifts or doubling up on caregivers.

It’s interesting for me to see how different personalities, life experiences, belief systems, and personal values all play into the way we care for others. I have met some caregivers who have made me terrified of ever having to be dependent on anyone – but thank God – I have met more who have restored my hope that there are still many out there who truly care and do a tremendous job communicating empathy and compassion for those they are serving.

Now, I find myself watching, listening, and noticing at a deeper level than I ever have – partly, because I want to be able to identify and communicate to my children my own preferences and potential needs as I’m aging, but also because I have a strong desire to connect clients with exceptional ¬†caregivers when I see ones who stands out to me as someoneone I would want to take care of ME if I was in need of the same level of care. I want to build a team around me that I can refer people to. Caregivers who I am confident they will give the best care possible.

I also want to provide ongoing training and support to those who have a heart for caregiving, but may just need some encouragement, validation and further instruction and practice. This is in the works, but hasn’t been officially started yet.

Whenever I meet a new caregiver, I am always paying attention to behaviors and skills in them that I want to implement more in my own caregiving – and I’m paying attention to areas that I might be able to help them learn and grow in as well. When it comes to personal growth in any area, we can all learn from each other’s strengths as well as our weaknesses. This is why teamwork is so vital, especially in caring for our loved ones.

Some of the things I watch for:

  • Communication skills, tone of voice, ability to sense the client’s communication needs and preferences (too chatty or loud vs. not engaging at all)
  • Level of intuitiveness regarding room atmosphere (lights, temperature, noise levels, activity)
  • Empathy or disconnected, lack of concern?
  • Honesty with tactfulness or brash and condescending?
  • Cutting corners or taking pride and diligence in the thoroughness ¬†of their work?
  • Whose agenda is priority when there is conflict or a difference of opinion? Why?
  • Caregiver’s level of skill/experience/confidence in relation to the needs of the client
  • Willingness (or lack of willingness) to learn new things and ask questions/find answers that will help in providing exceptional care
  • Encouraging and supportive attitude or dramatic complaining and backbiting, stirring the pot?
  • Body language of clients and caregivers alike, verbal and non-verbal feedback
  • Conflict resolution skills with client, client’s family, co-workers as issues arise
  • Integrity in all communication and interactions with the client, client’s family and co-workers
  • Teachability / Eagerness to learn new ways of working through things in healthier and more productive ways.

Consider these tips as you are finding caregivers for you or your loved ones. Good care does exist and I hope to bring some of these precious ones together in this small corner of the world, so together, we can build exceptional care teams offering the best care possible!