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Caregivers: The Unsung Heroes in Healthcare

While growing up, people are often taught that they should be able to take care of themselves – to the extent of their abilities, at least. For example, a child of primary school age won’t be asked to do as much as a working adult would. But what happens when someone is no longer able to look after themselves, whether because of injury or illness? 

 

That’s where caregivers come in.

What is a caregiver?

Caregivers are people who help others who aren’t able to or have difficulty tackling activities of daily living — from getting dressed to eating to taking a bath or brushing their teeth. The sheer range of people that caregivers can help look after is astounding; one day, they could be caring for an elderly person, and the next they’re looking after someone who’s bedridden because of an illness.

Other times, the family could hire several caregivers from an agency, with each one taking a shift of 8 to 12 hours, depending on the caregivers’ preference or the company policy. It’s possible to hire an independent caregiver who isn’t affiliated with any agency. As you can guess, these caregivers are paid per shift or per hour.

What are the characteristics of a caregiver?

Good communication is arguably the most important skill for a caregiver, since they’ll be dealing with the person receiving care and their family members, at the very least. The more tasks they’re entrusted with, the more people they’ll have to interact with, and they will have to make sure these people understand them properly.
Time management and organizational skills are also important. Caregivers only have so much time in a day to be with the person receiving care, so they need to finish all their tasks without compromising the quality of their work. They also have their own lives outside of their work, and without proper time management, errands and chores could pile up, either for the caregiver or for their client. Meanwhile, without organizational skills, medication could be missed, paperwork misplaced, and any monitoring might be done improperly.
Last but not the least is the ability to maintain cleanliness, not only for the ones being cared for, but for the caregivers themselves, not to mention the areas around those being cared for. Caregivers will need to be able to keep track of what needs to be cleaned, from wiping down various surfaces to managing laundry. 

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Who Can Be Caregivers?

Sometimes, a family member steps up to become the primary caregiver for someone. A spouse, one of their children, or even a sibling could find themselves taking on this role. When this happens, the caregiver often goes unpaid, or doesn’t even think to ask for payment, since family caregivers typically see this role as a responsibility rather than a job.

Other times, the family could hire several caregivers from an agency, with each one taking a shift of 8 to 12 hours, depending on the caregivers’ preference or the company policy. It’s possible to hire an independent caregiver who isn’t affiliated with any agency. As you can guess, these caregivers are paid per shift or per hour.

Other times, the family could hire several caregivers from an agency, with each one taking a shift of 8 to 12 hours, depending on the caregivers’ preference or the company policy. It’s possible to hire an independent caregiver who isn’t affiliated with any agency. As you can guess, these caregivers are paid per shift or per hour.

Challenges Faced By Caregivers

Whether they’re affiliated with an agency or a member of the family, caregivers face similar challenges. Some people already have a hard time looking after themselves on top of having a job, so taking responsibility for someone else can mean that person winds up spreading themselves too thin. Ensuring they take care of everything for the day can lead to a caregiver not getting enough rest, and caregivers working with an agency might end up taking on too many jobs and ultimately burning out.

Then there are the tasks that come with the role, especially for a first-time caregiver. When the one receiving care can hardly move on their own or has difficulty understanding instructions, getting certain tasks done can be a struggle. A family caregiver who’s still holding down a full-time job will have to find a way to juggle their current workload with their caregiving duties.

As mentioned earlier, hiring caregivers from an agency can help alleviate some of their struggle, by ensuring that none of them spend more than half a day with the person being cared for. But family caregivers might not have that luxury. Another relative could step in to help for a day or two, but that may not be enough to offset the primary caregiver’s fatigue.

While caregivers have slowly become more recognized for their contributions – for instance, November is National Family Caregivers Month in the USA – they are still largely unsung heroes in healthcare. The service they provide is just as important as a doctor’s or nurse’s, hence, their contributions in the healthcare industry is definitely beneficial to the society.

Caregivers’ skills may not be the same as the nurses and doctors, but with their elevated abilities in assisting daily, mundane tasks to their patients, it has been proven that these amazing professionals are not just here to take up space. The duty of the caregivers tends to be “more emotional” than the other healthcare providers.

Imagine someone is taking time out of her day to look after patients just to make patients feel that they’re still loved, even if they can’t take care of themselves. This is the duty of a caregiver. It’s not just about providing assistance, rather, it’s about showing a special kind of love and care as well.

Caregivers understand this, and that’s why they’re willing to take on the job.

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