Seven Habits of Successful Caregivers

There is no "one right way" to do things in caregiving. The beauty and challenge of caregiving is that each client's preferences and needs are different. However, despite this, there are commonalities. And, in over 10 years working in home care, I've found that the caregivers clients ask for over and over and want long-term have a few things in common.

What are the seven habits of a successful caregiver?

1. A successful caregiver is a proactive caregiver.

Being proactive is the first step to putting the other six habits into place. Take responsibility for your actions and your situation. If you work for a home care company, they should provide you with a client care plan. Take the time to read the care plan to get ready for your shift. That is your roadmap and outline of duties. The difference between a successful, proactive caregiver and a struggling, reactive caregiver is in little aspects of thinking ahead. For example, a successful caregiver often maps out their shift the day before to avoid being late on the first day. Nothing makes a bad first impression like showing up late...and it could often be avoided with some planning.

Proactive caregivers are not perfect, but they stay in front of issues by communicating about them early. Being proactive means being and acting as a healthcare professional in all situations. You respect yourself and your role by conducting yourself professionally.

2. Use available technology tools.

Successful caregivers use the technology tools available to them to help do their job best. At EasyLiving, for example, we use a caregiver system called ClearCare. It offers Android and iPhone apps for mobile devices. Caregivers can view schedules and see shift details; clock-in/out with GPS location verification; access client information including contact info, maps, assessments and care plans; update tasks, report changes in client's condition, and add comments. The company you work for offers tools like this to help you be a successful caregiver. Less successful caregivers look at this as something new to learn and resist, but more successful caregivers embrace anything that helps them do their best.

3. Put the client first.

It is not about you, it is about the people we serve. Successful caregivers understand they are providing the essential services to another person who is chronically ill, disabled, or even dying. Great caregivers show both empathy and compassion. Caregivers will let the client they are caring for know they care about them and want to do what they can to help them. When you put your client ahead of yourself, you are the one that wins in the end. If you are considering a career as a caregiver, it is important to understand if it is right for you. Being a caregiver can be tough at times, but you will be a successful caregiver if you remember why you're doing this important work.

4. The successful caregiver over-communicates.

People cannot read minds and until that happens we must very clearly and repeatedly communicate. Successful caregivers over-communicate with their agency/support staff and their clients. If the care plan isn't right, more log sheets are needed, supplies are not in the home,  a successful caregiver speaks up (and does it early, see #1). Everyone wants to do a good job and communication is the foundation for that.

The majority of our clients have some form of memory issue, therefore stepping up frequency of communication is paramount. There is a saying I use at that the office and that is "If you tell a group of people something 7 times, half will say they heard it once." It's an old marketing adage about the number of times a message must be repeated. And, that's not even taking into account memory issues.  When communicating with the office or your clients it is best to say what you are going to do and say it again while you are doing it and one more time before you leave.

5. Be nice!

Being nice is the foundation for effective communication and relationship skills, which are crucial in being a successful caregiver. Remember grandma's wisdom, "You'll catch more flies with honey than vingear"? You cannot control what other people say to you, but you are in 100% control of how you respond. Successful caregivers understand this and they take the high road. Being nice first and being professional all the time is the best way to create a longstanding relationship with any person. And, it makes your job much easier down the line.

6. Be on time to work.

Your clients rely on you to be there for them as expected. Be where you are supposed to be when you are supposed to be there. We get break down, children get sick, etc. But out of 30 days in a month, that might happen once or twice; it is not a common occurrence. Successful caregivers know that being on time to work is 60% of being a great caregiver. Otherwise, the client is disappointed, frustrated and maybe even put at risk right from the start. The other 40% is being there for your client and meeting their expectations.

7. A successful caregiver is open to feedback.

The successful cargeiver is not only open to it but desires it. The purpose of feedback is to encourage effective future behavior. Successful caregivers understand that feedback helps them meet clients' expectations to keep their jobs and become more successful. The role of your supervisors should be to provide this constructive feedback. This doesn't mean rehashing the past, but looking to the future to learn how to do better going forward.

To be a great caregiver you need to be supported by a great team. That is exactly what you’ll get by choosing EasyLiving.

Find out how EasyLiving provides the tools, resources and support to help you in your caregiving career.

 Our mission is to set every caregiver up for success, empowering them to provide the best home care in our community.