Not all heroes wear capes. In our fast-paced world, the cape-less heroes often go unnoticed as they perform extraordinary acts of compassion and care behind closed doors. These unsung heroes are the caregivers- individuals who dedicate their lives to assisting others who cannot fully care for themselves.
Be it the elderly, disabled, injured, or ill, caregivers ensure they receive the care and support they need to live dignified lives. As their roles are as diverse as the individuals they assist, caregivers are an indispensable part of our society. But what do they actually do? What does a caregiver duties and responsibilities resume include?
Let’s delve into the remarkable world of caregiving and understand who they are and what they do.
Who are Caregivers?
So, who or what is a caregiver? In simple words, a caregiver is someone responsible for providing care to another person. As the role of a caregiver varies as per the needs of the person they’re assisting, there’s no single or static definition of who a caregiver is.
Their work generally involves offering support for everyday duties encompassing the physical, emotional, and social aspects of the person receiving the care. Though people make misconceptions between caregivers vs caretakers the caregiver’s objective here is to make that individual’s life comfortable and meaningful, allowing them to effectively deal with their condition.
What Does a Caregiver Do? 5 Most Important Duties
As a caregiver, the duties depend on the individual receiving the care and their situation. For instance, the duties can significantly vary between what does a caregiver do for a little child with a disability, taking care of an elderly or someone who is terminally ill.
However, there are some basic responsibilities typically common irrespective of who is receiving the care. The top 5 of these include-
1. Personal Care Assistance
One of the fundamental duties of a caregiver is to provide personal care assistance. This generally includes helping with ADLs (Activities of Daily Living) like bathing, grooming, dressing, and toileting. As these are some of the tasks that the elderly or people with disabilities cannot perform independently, the availability of a caregiver helps to a great extent.
Caregivers assist their patients with compassion to ensure they can maintain their dignity as well as personal hygiene.
2. Basic Medical Assistance
Proper medication management is vital for well-being and the health of individuals who rely on prescription drugs. Thus, one of the most important roles of caregiver to a patient is basic medication management to ensure the right medications are taken at the right time.
This can involve administering medications under the observation of a healthcare professional, organizing pill boxes, monitoring the patient for potential drug interactions or side effects, and keeping medical appointments.
3. Offering Companionship
The support and companionship of a caregiver have a significant impact on the well-being of the patient. So, one of the top in-home caregiver duties is to offer companionship and emotional support and help the care receiver recognize the importance of mental health and social interaction.
As isolation and loneliness can be significant challenges for the elderly or someone with a disability, caregivers often engage them in conversations, accompany patients on outings, and play games to help them combat these issues.
4. Meal Preparation
The most important duties of caregiver for the elderly also include meal preparation as proper nutrition is vital for the overall well-being of the care recipient. If the patient is prescribed a diet plan by the medical professional, it is the duty of the caregiver to ensure it is rightly followed.
In many cases, caregivers are generally also responsible for grocery shopping. If the doctor allows, the caregiver can make changes to the menu at regular intervals so that the patient doesn’t have to eat the same meal every day.
The caregiver also has to stay on top of the condition the care receiver is suffering from and take basic measures to ensure it doesn’t aggravate further. For instance, if the patient is suffering from dementia or when caring for a child with special needs, it is the responsibility of the caregiver to stave them off of activities that could harm them.
Other supervision-related duties can include communication with family members, helping with bill payments, answering the phone, and consulting with healthcare providers.
What are the Qualities of a Great Caregiver?
Now that you know what are the 5 responsibilities of a caregiver, let’s take a look at the qualities that make a great caregiver-
- Compassion- Quality caregiving is all about compassion. It is essential for caregivers to genuinely care about the well-being of the individuals they’re assisting.
- Empathy- It is through empathy that the caregivers can understand and connect with the patients or clients emotionally and provide support and comfort during difficult times.
- Patience- Caregiving is not the easiest of jobs. Thus, patience is crucial when dealing with the challenges that arise in this job. The patients can have physical or cognitive limitations that could require extra time and understanding.
- Communication Skills- Effective communication is also important for understanding and meeting the needs of the care receiver and for relaying vital information to healthcare professionals and their family members.
- Adaptability- Every care recipient is unique and their needs can also change with time. So, caregivers should be flexible so that they can adapt to different situations and preferences.
- Reliability- The patients and their families rely on the caregiver to be consistent and dependable in the care they offer. Reliability builds trust.
- Problem-Solving Abilities- If you’ve understood what does a caregiver do, you might have also realized that caregivers can encounter unexpected challenges. So, thinking on their feet and finding solutions to everyday problems is a valuable skill for caregivers.
- Cultural Sensitivity- To respect the diverse backgrounds and beliefs of the patients, the caregiver should also be culturally sensitive. They should be aware of cultural differences and be respectful and inclusive in their care.
- Time Management- Caregivers must manage their time and tasks to meet the diverse needs of the clients and ensure all the necessary responsibilities are fulfilled in an efficient and responsible manner.
- Professionalism- Caregivers should also maintain a high level of professionalism, which includes respecting client confidentiality, adhering to ethical standards, and maintaining appropriate boundaries.
What Should a Caregiver NOT Do?
Apart from knowing the basic duties and qualities of a caregiver, it is also crucial to understand what are caregivers not allowed to do. Take a look-
1. Prescribe Medications or Diagnose Medical Conditions
While caregivers should offer basic medical assistance, like making sure the patient takes the medicines on time, they do not have the authority to prescribe medications or diagnose medical conditions. Only healthcare professionals should prescribe medications and be responsible for medical assessments and recommendations.
2. Coerce or Force
One of the fundamental principles of caregiving is respecting the autonomy and personal choices of the patients. Thus, a caregiver should never coerce or force the patient or client to comply with their wishes or treatment plans. Remember that forcing a patient against their wishes could also result in legal consequences.
3. Invade Privacy
Caregivers should also refrain from actions that could invade the personal space or confidentiality of the person they’re caring for. Everyone has a right to maintain their dignity and self-respect, even if they need assistance with daily tasks or healthcare. Respecting the individual’s privacy is a way of upholding their dignity and allowing them to retain control over their personal information.
4. Violate Confidentiality
Confidentiality is a cornerstone of ethical caregiving, and caregivers must be vigilant in safeguarding the personal and sensitive information of their patients. Violating confidentiality can have serious legal, ethical, and emotional consequences, making it crucial for caregivers to understand and uphold this principle.
5. Neglect Self-Care
While caregivers are dedicated to providing care and support to others, it is equally important for them to not neglect their physical or emotional well-being while on the job. Without adequate self-care, the caregiver might suffer from burnout and not provide care to their patients as effectively. Compassion fatigue is another serious outcome of neglecting self-care.
6. Misrepresent Credentials
Misrepresenting one’s credentials, like qualifications or experience, is a serious ethical breach and can have significant consequences, particularly in the caregiving profession, where trust and credibility are paramount. It can have severe legal consequences and lead to professional repercussions. More importantly, it could also pose risks to the clients.
Choosing the Path of Caregiving
As a career, caregiving is a profession dedicated to providing essential care and support to individuals who require assistance due to various physical and mental challenges. It is a deeply rewarding field that allows caregivers to have a meaningful impact on the lives of others. You can either become an independent contractor caregiver or work in a reputed caregiving agency.
Now that you know what does a caregiver do, look for a trusted source to complete a caregiver course and get certified. The certification can significantly enhance your employment prospects, helping you build a strong, rewarding, and long-lasting.