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Your Caregiver Personality

The personality you reflect as a caregiver is one of the most important caregiving skills you have. Your caregiving personality involves how you relate to your clients, your co-workers, friends, relatives and others you come in contact with as a caregiver.

Your caregiving personality is a combination of several factors, most of which relate to your “human relations” skills. That is, how
you get along with others. Here’s why your personality and human relations skills are so important in the caregiving profession:

  • These skills have a huge impact on your clients as you care for them. This is because you’re often the person they see the most, and the one who gives them the most care.

  • How you relate to them can make a huge difference in how they feel; you have the power to make them feel really good about things and be happy, or you can also make them feel badly. It all depends on your skills in relating to them each and every day.

  • These skills also have a very significant impact on how well you get along with your co-workers, supervisors and so on. They’re important to making you a well-liked caregiver who is considered by everyone to be a valuable member of the team.

They’ll make you happy in your caregiving career, too. When you have a good personality and have developed successful human
relations skills, the very favorable feedback and happiness that you get from both clients and co-workers will make you feel really

good about your career. You’ll realize that you’re truly making an important and valuable contribution to your company, and are a well-respected caregiver as the result. Here are some starter tips for developing your successful caregiving personality:

  • Be kind. Always. Even under the most difficult situations. Kindness is one of the most important things you can deliver as a caregiver. It’ll have huge benefits for both you and your clients throughout your entire life as a caregiver, and make your caregiving career a very successful one. Kind caregivers are those who are long remembered and spoken fondly of, by both clients and their families. And kind caregivers have the best outcomes for their clients, in both their health and quality of life.

  • Never be an uncaring or non-feeling caregiver. You don’t want to be a caregiver who never changes expressions or approaches, and deals with clients as if they were nothing but numbers on an order sheet and tasks to get through each day. Remember to treat them as though they were important and valued people in your life every day.

  • Try to see the positive in any situation. At times, this will be difficult. You need a positive attitude if you are to be a stress-free, happy and successful caregiver. Negativism brings with it a bad attitude, dislike for your job, stress and depression, and poor outcomes for your clients. They deserve more than this from their most important caregivers.

  • Truly care about what you are doing. Be interested and enthused about your caregiving profession, and develop a deep understanding of your importance in the daily lives of each of the clients under your care.

  • Be a joyful person. Even when your clients cannot express it, you can feel their happiness and sense of well-being during care if you’re spreading joy into their lives. Smile a lot ... be cheery ... always act like you’re very glad to see your clients, all the time.

KEY BASIC SKILLS
According to Garda Cuthbert, RN, a Certified Nursing Home Administrator and consultant, learning and using a few simple
positive personality traits are a key first step in developing your set of successful human relations skills. Here’s what she says:

“Your personality is an important part of your caregiving skills because it can impact the health and well-being of the elders entrusted to your care. Your approach, your interest, and your behavior determine the relationships you establish and how your elders respond to you. Your personality traits impact your ability to work as a team member, your ability to work with your supervisors, and your ability to relate well to visitors. Your presence should make your elders and others feel good and comfortable with your abilities and with your care.”
 

Cuthbert recommends developing the following specific caregiving personality traits:

  • Be cheerful and positive in everything you do.

  • Be focused, reliable, dependable and able to follow through with responsibilities.

  • Be willing to put care first and refuse to get involved in petty issues, shift wars or gossip.

  • Be dedicated and loyal to your clients, their family, visitors, your co-workers and your company.

  • Understand the importance of confidential matters and the need to provide privacy.

  • Be approachable and friendly. Clients may need to express concerns, pains or problems but won’t if they are not getting “good vibes” that tell them you are interested and want to help.

  • Undertake friendly conversation at every opportunity.

  • Be confident in your own abilities but receptive to new information and the learning of new skills.

  • Be cooperative when asked to take on new assignments or adjust to new schedules, new rules, or to new co-workers.

  • Smile and convey a calm manner. Your calmness will help your clients feel relaxed and more receptive to your care.

  • Use the power of compassionate touch. Give a friendly touch to your clients whenever possible. This kind of personal attention is especially rewarding to them.


AND WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH
Of course, not every day will be easy. You encounter many difficult, challenging times as a caregiver. For these times, Cuthbert says
the following recommendations will help get you through them:

  • Concentrate on what you can do, not what you can’t do. Focusing on what you can accomplish will lessen stress related to what you can’t get done.

  • Take a few deep breaths and start at the beginning then work from there.

  • Do your best and don’t complain to your clients or other co-workers. Your clients can’t help and will only feel a burden to you when you give care.

  • List three good things that have already happened to you today – you will begin to look at the positive and feel better about everything.

  • Look for the little things that make you smile – the photo of your client with his dog, the bird out the window, or the laughter from down the hall.

  • Take a quick break outside (yes, even if it’s snowing)! Look around and find enjoyment in what you see. Breathe deeply and plan what you are going to do first when you get back inside.

  • Do a few quick knee or side bends, touch your toes or stretch your arms overhead. If someone sees you – do it anyway! You may be helping the other person, too.


THE IMPORTANCE OF TEAMWORK

Getting along well with your co-workers, and being an effective member of your home-care team is also a key ingredient to your
future success as a caregiver. The reason being an effective team member is so important in your career is that many of the
healthcare settings operate in a team environment.

 

Effective teamwork is at the very center of caregiving in most all healthcare companies. It may take some practice to become an effective team member, but there are a few specific rules that can help you attain that goal, which are taught at The Ohio State University’s team building classes:

  • Remember that each member of the team has something of value to contribute, and to make the team more effective, get to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and special capabilities.

  • As a member of a group, you have to be willing to share the “ownership” of your concepts with others of the group.

  • The diversity of the team may be frustrating at first, but it is one of the greatest strength of working in a group.

  • Be respectful of each member’s feelings, thoughts and ideas.

  • Be willing to compromise.

  • Don’t just complain about problems; see what can be done about them.

  • Discuss as a group about how to solve problems that arise.

TALK TO YOUR SUPERVISOR WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS

As a caregiver, you’re in contact with a lot of people every day: Your clients, co-workers, friends, relatives, volunteers and more. And you’re going to learn that a certain small percent of the folks you come in contact with are going to be hard to get along with in some way or another. Here are some tips for avoiding and resolving conflicts:

  • Talk less and listen more. Conflicts often arise from harmless word exchanges. Listening is a valuable art that you should learn to do.

  • Don’t gossip or talk behind the backs of co-workers in an attempt to undermine them. This is unprofessional behavior that can cause serious conflicts in your work environment.

  • Avoid controversial topics such as religion, politics and personal values. If conflicts start to arise, change the subject and keep things light.

  • Smile and shrug it off if someone gives you a hard time.

  • Don’t develop the difficult behavior in yourself that you don’t like in others.

  • Seek clarification if a problem develops – go to the most appropriate source for information when you hear controversial rumors or statements.

  • Do little things to ease any tension among co-workers. Use your imagination – bring fudge, cookies, make a sign thanking people for their hard work – anything that supports and appreciates them.

  • Work to get along with your co-workers. Never let a problem fester.

  • If you have problems or conflicts with friends and relatives of clients, don’t argue with them. Attempt to understand where they’re coming from, and tell them you’ll help resolve their issues.

  • If someone continues to bother or harass you, inform a supervisor.

BE A GOOD LISTENER

You might find it strange to see “listening” as a key caregiver skill, but it is. Much of your effectiveness as a caregiver depends on your listening skills. Here are two important points that can help you become a very good listener:

  1. Listen more than you talk. Experts tell us that most people, when in a conversation, will talk about 80 percent of the time and listen 20 percent of the time. That’s just the opposite of what it should be. You should be listening 80 percent of the time, and talking 20 percent of the time.

  2. Ask lots of questions. By asking lots of questions, you’ll accomplish a couple of things: You show your clients that you are interested in their opinions and respect them, and you get them talking to you. Being a good questioner is often the single most important thing that will make you a good conversationalist and communicator. It’s very valuable to your clients as well since you’ll learn a lot about them and spot problems early on, before they become severe.


RESPECT EACH OTHER
One of the most important rules for successful teams is simply to have respect for your fellow team members. This means that each and every member of the team is valued by everyone, and that their unique knowledge and expertise is an important part of the team effort. This also means that you will attentively listen to their ideas and suggestions respectfully, and that your fellow team members should do the same for you.

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