How to Choose a Personal Caregiver

A personal caregiver is someone who addresses the personal care needs of a person. Usually, a personal caregiver only works with one person, attending to all of this specific person’s needs and, to some extent, his or her wants. As such, a personal caregiver has to possess certain qualifications that are generally dependent on the person for whom the care services are intended.

Qualifications

There are no specific qualifications prescribed. In most cases, personal caregivers get their training while doing the actual job. A license or a specific designation is not required although preferable in some cases. For instance, if the person who needs the care services has a serious chronic illness, somebody who is a registered nurse or a certified nursing assistant would be more preferable. This is to ensure that the caregiver has proper knowhow and training in dealing with health concerns and in administering first aid or emergency care solutions whenever necessary.

Generally, based on the points outlined in “Next Step in Care” by the United Hospital Fund, a caregiver has to be able to competently perform the following tasks:

  • Addressing the symptoms or manifestations of chronic illnesses or diseases and ensuring that complications are avoided
  • Medication management
  • Hygiene and personal care assistance
  • Doing household chores, preparing meals, and attending to bills and mails in behalf of the person being cared for

Qualities

Aside from the qualifications, there are specific qualities personal caregivers should have. These qualities make them more fit for the job and more likely to be able to build a relationship of trust with the persons they are serving.

Respect - This is a basic quality every person should have but it’s worth emphasizing when it comes to caregiving. People always want to be treated with respect to be able to return the same respect. It’s important to express courtesy, to stay quiet when talking is uncalled for, to avoid being too inquisitive, and to show good manners regardless of the age difference.

Being Observant and Adaptable  - A personal caregiver cannot impose his or her personality. It is the personal caregiver who should learn to observe, adapt, and try to figure out how to properly interact with the person he or she is serving. Additionally, a caregiver has to be observant or attentive enough to quickly see what needs to be done in the way it should be done.

Good communication skills – The way a caregiver Interacts with the person he or she is working with has to be clear and effective. It is important to talk in a clear and loud enough voice. Likewise, it is important to be a good listener and to not interrupt somebody who is talking. Communication, however, should not be just about talking or making conversations. Sometimes, there are people who prefer less talk. A caregiver should be able to quickly observe this and act accordingly.

Reliability and Strong constitution – A caregiver has to be physically and mentally capable of handling the tasks of caregiving. A caregiver has to have enough physical strength to provide physical assistance when needed, especially when dealing with handicapped or bedridden persons. Additionally, a caregiver has to have a strong constitution especially when working with persons who suffer from disease or injuries that require the frequent cleaning of bodily fluids and wounds, bathing, and providing assistance during urination and defecation.

A personal caregiver, ideally, should be able to build a good relationship with the person he or she is serving, especially if it’s a long-term job. It is essential to be competent and dependable. Similarly, it is important to learn to be compassionate or to empathize without necessarily making the person (receiving the care service) feel helpless and useless.