What does a caregiver do?
“Caregiving is a series of small acts of care that alter the course of someone’s life.”
Caregiving is an integral part of ensuring the overall well-being of individuals who cannot otherwise take care of themselves. It is an essential service for people suffering from long-term illnesses or conditions that need constant monitoring.
Unlike in-patient care, caregiving usually occurs at the individual’s home or an assisted living facility. The assistance that a caregiver provides is dependent on the condition of the individual who receives the care. Given the diversity of conditions, the role of a caregiver is often misunderstood. So, what does a caregiver do? To better answer this question, let’s first understand what caregiving entails.
What is caregiving?
Caregiving is the undertaking of activities that promote the wellness of the individual who is receiving the care. It involves providing support in daily duties covering the physical, social and emotional aspects of their lives. The service aims to make a person’s life meaningful and comfortable as they deal with their condition. Those that benefit from caregiving are the elderly, terminally ill, injured, people and children with chronic conditions and disabilities.
What is the role of a caregiver?
As a caregiver, you have the role of being the person’s direct support in their daily lives. It involves being around them when they are most active and assisting them where required. Depending on the situation, a caregiver can either be a family member, a friend, a paid professional, or a community volunteer.
Regardless of the type of caregiver you are, your role is to ensure that you provide the necessary help to enable your recipient to live as independently as possible. Being a caregiver involves having compassion and a genuine need to care for others without any bias.
Often, the role is confused with that of a live-in housekeeper. Housekeepers are in-charge of the family’s overall care, whereas a caregiver takes care of a specific individual.
What are the main caregiver duties and responsibilities?
Your duties as a caregiver are dependent on the situation of the individuals. The care of the elderly will differ from that of a terminally ill, a disabled person or a child. However, there are typical everyday duties that cut across the board, and these include:
General medical assistance
General health monitoring is the basic task of any caregiver. Your responsibility is to ensure that your care recipient adheres to the prescribed medicines or treatment plan as per their prescriptions and schedule. You need to assist or administer yourself all the medication in the right doses and make sure the drugs do not run out. You also have the responsibility of keeping medical appointments and providing health data to the doctor when required. The information from caregivers is valuable for health care providers. It helps them have a better health overview of the patient and provide better treatments.
Personal care assistance
You are also responsible for the recipient’s overall hygiene and personal care. Tasks such as bathroom activities, grooming, and physical exercise are within your scope of caregiving. If possible, it is also essential to encourage your care recipient to partake in these activities as they contribute to their overall well-being.
Proper nutrition is vital to ensuring your care recipient’s health. Food preparation is often part of the caregiving duties. It is your responsibility as a caregiver to ensure that your recipient follows the set diet plan if prescribed by the medical professional. Grocery shopping also forms part of your responsibilities. You have the liberty to switch up the menu, if doctor’s orders allow, to break the monotony of dishes you prepare for your recipient.
Your companionship and support influence the overall state of your care recipient deeply. That’s why a healthy relationship between a caregiver and a care recipient is so necessary for the benefits of all. It is your responsibility to ensure that your recipient receives social nourishment as well. As part of your duties, you should engage your recipient in conversations and activities they can participate in. Other activities may include leisure activities, like watching TV or taking walks. You can help your care recipient rid of loneliness and alleviate the frequent feelings of isolation and abandonment.
Caregiving involves working with recipients going through different conditions. In cases where you are taking care of a child with special needs, Alzheimer’s patients or those who have dementia, it is your responsibility to prevent them from engaging in activities that may harm them. Under general supervision, other responsibilities may involve communication with others, answering the phone, helping out with bill payments and advocating with different providers and services. Trust is fundamental to becoming a good caregiver. Your recipient should be able to trust you enough for you to handle their personal tasks as well.
When caring for people with mobility issues, you are in charge of ensuring that your recipient can move around. You help them with their walkers and wheelchairs, getting into the vehicle, among other duties. Caregivers who have a medical background can also help in administering physiotherapy exercises for their recipients.
You are also responsible for the transportation of your recipient. Visits to facilities such as the doctor’s office, bank, and other leisure facilities all fall under your jurisdiction. Good caregiving involves creating a situation where things are as normal as possible.
As in most jobs and services, technology is also becoming a mainstay in caregiving. You can now synchronize information and involve all the stakeholders in ensuring proper care for your recipient. Apps such as Gherry, are making it easier to sharing information and managing of tasks for caregivers.
What you should NOT do as a caregiver?
- Do not act as a home-doctor. Know the boundaries and when to call the professionals.
- Not withhold any information from doctors or other family members.
- Never go against the doctors’ orders even if you have a different opinion.
- Don’t forget your care recipient’s dignity and respect their privacy.
- Don’t forget to communicate about everything, including your own needs and feelings.
- If you are not a family member, you should never overstep by interfering with family and private matters.
- Do not neglect your needs. You have to feel well to do your caregiving duties well.
- Don’t feel underappreciated. Know that your work is valuable and important.
What is caregiver burnout?
Caregiving is usually a full-time job that requires absolute devotion. It can be overwhelming and frustrating. In your commitment to your care recipient, it can easily happen that you neglect your needs. This frequently causes accumulated stress, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, mental fatigue, anxiety, depression. Too long and too much of everything can lead to the point when you feel you cannot continue. It influences you physically and mentally. It affects your duties and efficiency, and in a chain reaction, your care recipient as the final instance. You can forget your responsibilities leading to additional stress. The professional term for this is what is known as caregiver burnout.
What is caregiver stress?
It is a situation where you become overwhelmed with the demands of your job. The strain can either be physical or psychological, depending on the specific situation and care recipient’s condition. How long you are a caregiver, how your days are organized, do you have additional help and do you have time for yourself – this all influences the level of stress you are experiencing as a caregiver.
What do caregivers do at night?
Some take the night time as their time to relax and distress. However, you do have caregivers who also have 24/7 duty. In this case, it is essential to organize shifts and allow the necessary time for the caregivers the necessary time to rest and recharge.
Caregivers play an essential role in ensuring their dependent loved ones enjoy as normal a life as possible. In understanding what entails proper caregiving, you are better positioned to select a fitting setting that works both for your loved one and you. All parties are important, equally care recipients and caregivers. It’s teamwork. As in any other team, in the care process, each cog needs to function well in order to have the best of the given circumstances.