In some cases, they decided to make this choice or were asked to do it by a relative or close friend who needed in-home care but wanted someone they trust to provide this service, rather than someone they don’t know or didn’t know if they could afford.
The team at Accredited Home Care has been involved in several types of situations where the caregiver is there to be helpful and supportive but doesn’t necessarily know the ins and outs as much as a fully trained nurse can.
And that’s OK! Their presence there is certainly helpful and there are some procedures they can learn to offer a basic level of care. In these situations, we sometimes look for ways we can collaborate since they may be with the patient longer than we are.
For instance, we may tell them what to look for and what to observe related to their condition and let us know if anything significant changes.
We know it can be a change for someone who hasn’t had medical or nursing training to be asked to offer this, so we try to be sympathetic and even encouraging. And as long as they provide basic safe care, create a safe environment, and alert us or a provider with any questions, we’re good with everything.
One challenge that “new” caregivers sometimes run into is learning how to cope emotionally with the role.
This is something that nurses take classes in, talk to current and former nurses about, and experience for themselves during practical training.
Even then it still can be difficult to be professional when a patient is unhappy, in pain or simply bored, and wants to take out all their fear and anger on you. Or when you feel bad for their declining health and watch it decline further.
Patients with advanced mental health problems or various dementias can make things even more challenging since they may not know where they are or who you are at all times. Some may be prone to violence or self-harm.
Someone who is being a caregiver to a friend or family member, such as a parent, may have their own dynamic that may make taking care of them even more difficult.
Caregivers may also have their own fears and moments of unhappiness that may be brought in as well. Perhaps they had to put their job on hold, change their work schedule or spend time away from their families.
Unlike a nurse, who can go home and relax at the end of his or her shift, some caregivers live in the same place as the patient so they’re essentially always on call.
Maybe they’re mad that other friends or family haven’t been helping as much. Maybe they’re tired especially if their usual sleep schedule has been disrupted because of their new responsibilities. There are all sorts of reasons that can go from frustrations to resentments to all over unhappiness which can affect quality of care.
Learning to cope
Luckily, because so many people have been in these types of situations and even “pro” caregivers want to make sure everyone is properly taken care of, even those who aren’t our direct patients, there’s plenty of support out there.
Part of this is celebrating any type of caregiver, which can be done on National Caregiver Day which is the third Friday of February.
The annual observance began in 2015 by the Providers Association for Home Health And Hospice Agencies as a way to salute caregivers of any skill level who provide compassionate care and helpful services.
Health professionals also encourage caregivers to look for opportunities to give yourself a break.
Accredited Home Care, for instance, can provide respite care, where we can have a trained caregiver take your place for a few hours or a day. This way, you can do whatever you want to do to clear your head, relax or enjoy pleasant distractions.
Some health care communities offer a different form of respite care where the patient can go spend time at a location with others with a similar health condition, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
If you’re able to arrange a regular break, perhaps by asking a friend or family member to sit in for a few hours once a week, it could become the perfect opportunity to help you become a better caregiver.
Not only will you be able to recharge your batteries, but you can also look for a support group in your area and meet others who are doing what you’re doing. Or seek out some types of classes to help you build your caregiving skills. While it may be difficult to enroll full-time in a nursing program if you only have a few free hours a week, perhaps there are some other related courses such as other certifications or medical procedures.