Caregiving holds several benefits, according to researchers. Caregivers tend to actually live longer than non-caregivers, as altruism and volunteering have been linked to longevity. It is also psychologically gratifying, and according to studies, there is a lot of satisfaction to be gained in caring for another individual. Even with these benefits of caregiving, it is still important to determine whether it is a good career for you.
Caregiving is no doubt a rewarding profession, but it comes with its own unique set of challenges. It requires constant attention to the needs of your patient, in addition to the ability to quickly respond in emergency situations. In some cases, caregivers may feel guilty if their help isn’t well received, and feelings of rejection can take an emotional toll on them. In addition to stress, other challenges of caregiving include unacknowledged care, how physically demanding the work is, and patients refusing help.
There are certain qualities, which you need to possess that would make professional caregiving a suitable choice, and ensure your success on the job. Such qualities include consistency, focus, and compassion, patience, being unflappable, and having a self-motivation to get results. These traits are essential in order to be able to weather the challenges attached to caregiving. Also, before you set the wheels in motion, consider your motivations. Why do you want to become a professional caregiver?
If you are convinced you want to consider a career in caregiving, here are some of the important things you should consider:
Trainings and/or Professional Certifications
Even though a degree is not a compulsory requirement to become a caregiver, some training background is an asset when seeking and working with clients. Some colleges offer courses for prospective caregivers. With a relatively quick course, you can become a CHHA (Certified Home Health Aide). An easy way to find a course near you is to visit the Red Cross and look for home health aide and nurse assistant training in your state. If you are looking to get an advanced degree, some of the common ones to choose from include LPN (Licenced Practical Nurse) or CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant).
Professional caregivers can provide much needed advice about the career trajectory, financial investment in education, salary and time. Therefore, find one you can talk to get as much information as possible before getting started. Also, volunteering is a great way to get a sense of the environment, challenges and rewards before getting committed to professional caregiving.
Be Physically Prepared
Caregiving can take a toll on your body as a care person. Constant bending and lifting can result in chronic back pain or other injuries. Therefore, get or rent the right medical equipment to make your job easier, from handgrips in the bathroom to walkers, wheelchairs or a hospital bed. Hospital workers are trained on how to lift and move patients, and you should also consider getting the same type of training. A physical therapist can guide you in the appropriate back stretches and exercises so that you can prevent problems even before they get started.
Research your Options
Attending caregiver’s classes will help you learn the basics of this profession. You can also apply to work at a home care agency, as many of them offer training. Organisations such as Family Caregiver Alliance and so on offer classes, workshops and seminars for individuals who are interested in working as professional caregivers. Some of these organisations also offer critical caregiving support and comprehensive medical care in the home, and are a great place to begin your work.
Ensure you are okay with the occasional salary change, as payment varies by location, facility and qualification. Caregivers sometimes receive low salaries, and they work long shifts of up to 50 hours a week. If you are considering a career in caregiving, you stand to make the most money if you get hired directly by a family or facility, because you won’t have to give up a cut of your wages for a fee-based agency.
Care for Yourself Too
Caregivers tend to forget to care for themselves. This happens because it is difficult to pay attention to yourself when you are so focused on caring for someone else. However, it is one of the most important things you can do both for yourself and for the person you are caring for. As long as you remain in good health, you’ll have more strength, energy, passion for the job, and a stronger immune system. So, plan to take 30-second breaks during your work period, and pay attention to your senses and your posture.