So what are the qualities of a good carer?
While exceptional training can help to advance a carer’s skills, there are many qualities that a good carer needs that cannot be taught. These are the natural abilities that a carer needs to feel empathy and compassion for someone and subsequently want to do the best job they can looking after their customer.
At Helping Hands we pride ourselves on selecting only the most compassionate and caring people to become our carers and that, in conjunction with the comprehensive training we give them when they start with us, means you or your loved ones will be expertly supported at home. The following list illustrates just some of the qualities our carers have:
A carer should always be respectful of their customer and where they live. After all, not only is it the customer’s home it is also the carer’s workplace, and consequently, they should behave in a manner that befits a professional environment. That doesn’t mean the carer and customer can’t joke together, or enjoy a friendly relationship, however it should always be remembered that the carer is a professional entering the customer’s home and that they’re not only representing themselves but Helping Hands too.
That means they should be mindful of the language they use around the customer as well as voicing opinions that the customer may take exception to. Carers should also avoid talking ‘over’ the customer when they are working in a duo with another carer, as that will make the customer feel excluded from the conversation and is definitely not respectful.
Empathy can’t be taught; you either have it or you don’t. To be a good carer though you definitely need to have an empathetic outlook on the world and care deeply about other people and their wellbeing. Empathy means you can understand or identify with the feelings of another person and all good carers should be able to do that. Empathy comes out in many ways though – you might cry at a news report or a film you watch, or feel sad about something you see or hear that doesn’t directly affect you, but the ability to ‘put yourself in their place’ is definitely crucial for someone to become a good carer.
You should never patronise your customer – just because you can identify with what they’re going through doesn’t mean you should presume to know how that individual is feeling.
Being reliable is important in every walk of life and every role, but especially so when the person who is waiting for you to arrive has needs that will affect their dignity and health if they aren’t addressed. When you are a carer there are people relying on you to carry out tasks that they would rather be doing themselves but aren’t able to, so being reliable and arriving when you say you will is also respectful.
While we can’t always help being delayed or late sometimes, whether due to bad traffic, a breakdown or the weather, it is essential to communicate effectively when that’s the case, to the office, your manager or if appropriate, the customer themselves. This ensures that they are not sitting there wondering if anyone is going to arrive and becoming distressed.
Patience is an essential trait for anyone working in healthcare, because there will be times of stress in the role which can cause you to be tempted to answer on your customer’s behalf or do something for them that they would prefer to do themselves but would take longer. It’s important to always keep your customer as independent as possible and encourage them to do things for themselves where they want to and it’s safe to do so, rather than doing it for them because it’s quicker.
Your customer may have had a stroke or live with another condition that takes them a long time to answer a question, but it’s important to wait and let them do so, not become impatient and answer for them, presuming you know what they want. Dementia is another condition that may cause those around them to lose patience with the person, complaining that they keep repeating themselves or asking the same questions over again, but this is where the carer can support the family too by reassuring them that the person doesn’t do it deliberately, it’s just what can happen when someone is living with dementia.
Having a lively personality isn’t a prerequisite for being a carer, however you’ll definitely need your sense of humour on days when things get tough. Customers will often have an amazing personality that suits you perfectly as a carer, but there will be times when they’re resistant to having care and won’t accept that they need any extra support at home. You’ll have to work hard to win them over but thanks to the strength of your friendly and outgoing nature, they’ll soon see you as a friend and understand you’re there to help.
Having a practical nature is extremely useful for a carer because, aside from everything you’ll need to get the hang of in your training, there’s also the fact that there will be days that are more difficult than others and being able to dig deep and find practical reserves of courage will be very useful to you. You also need to be able to remain unemotional at times and put your ‘practical head’ on, even when you feel as if you could fall apart inside.
A very large part of the carers’ job is being observant and making sure that anything that is out of the ordinary is reported and acted upon. This could be a new pressure sore beginning on the customer’s skin, a suspicion that someone close to the customer is not treating them properly or noticing that a colleague is not carrying out part of their role correctly. These things all need to be reported and followed up because we have a duty of care to the customer to ensure their wellbeing is always being safeguarded. It’s also important to make sure that there’s nothing hazardous that you’re going to trip over or cause someone else to either!
This has to be the most important quality a carer needs. If a person doesn’t care, then they can’t care for another person. If there is no empathy or compassion for others then a carer is not going to be concerned about whether they do a good job or not, and that dedication and passion for the job is what makes our Helping Hands carers amazing!
Experience isn’t essential to be a great carer, as long as you’re a caring and empathetic person we can equip you with the skills you need to succeed in the role. As experience is gathered though, it is something that no-one can ever take from you and it will enhance your confidence in yourself to do the role well. At Helping Hands, we have many thousands of amazing carers making a difference to our customers’ lives every single day, some whom have years of experience and some very new to care.
Qualifications in care are much less important than experience, enthusiasm and empathy, however, to progress within your career you may want to undertake additional qualifications or enhance your skills so that you better understand your customers’ conditions. At Helping Hands, we offer employees the opportunity to gain additional skills and qualifications relevant to their role, so we really are the ones to talk to if you’re looking for a career in care or seeking care for a loved one.
It’s important to be available when you’re looking for work, and one of the best things about care with Helping Hands is that we’re so well established throughout England and Wales. This means that wherever you live there is bound to be a branch close by or a live-in service in the area. This works well for our carers and customers because it means that there is work available in the area that you live in and it also means that we can deliver care over a wide area. Depending on whether you have our visiting or live-in care service you may well receive care from someone who lives in the same area as you, or it could be someone from anywhere in the world!