It takes a very special person to take care of someone else. That is especially true when the caregiver is not an immediate family member. Taking care of another human being is something we all have some capacity for, but people who enter caregiving professions should have what it takes in much higher proportions than the average person.
Besides knowing their medical “stuff,” caregivers should have certain personality traits that make them good at what they do. They also have a little something extra that allows them to manage the stress of being around people who are sick, or even dying.
- The best caregivers are usually helper/supporter personality types. This means it’s in their nature and it’s actually their preference to take care of someone else, and they like to put other people’s needs first. People enter the medical profession for a variety of reasons, and many of them aren’t really helper/supporters by nature. These people tend to stand out because they are more focused on facts and information than on the feelings and symptoms a patient describes, or they seem calculating and distant when presented with new information or a change in symptoms.
- Caregivers should be good listeners. If a nurse or doctor doesn’t have good listening skills, watch out. That’s a good sign that they aren’t terribly invested in what the patient has to say. Maybe they’re just busy, and can’t spend time listening to long or rambling descriptions of aches and pains, but a good caregiver will listen attentively, knowing that it can help give them a fuller picture of what the patient is experiencing, which can improve the accuracy of any diagnosis.
- A good caregiver will not take things personally or “get into it” with a patient. Nurses and doctors know when a patient is in pain or distress they may not be quite themselves. Good caregivers will have patience with their patients, and not overreact when someone who is hurting or scared misbehaves a bit.
- Good caregivers give good advice. Of course technical acumen is a major factor in what it takes to be a good provider of care. While it may be the most important thing, it’s just not the only thing that counts.
When you’re looking into nursing homes, talk to the staff and make sure they have the right stuff to be a good caregiver. It takes more than technical expertise to provide proper care, and you’ll quickly notice the difference when you pay attention to these details.