Rewarding Work – What It Takes To Be A Carer
As people live longer, and we get better at preserving the lives of those who would otherwise have perished, more and more people are going through times when they need a bit of extra care. The care industry is thus an expanding one, in which kind, empathetic, practical, and dedicated people are always needed. It takes a special kind of person to be a carer or a nurse – someone who has both the practical skills and forthrightness needed to deal with people who may sometimes need specialist help, and the empathetic nature needed to treat these people with the respect and kindness which any human being deserves. Importantly, a good carer also needs to know how to take care of themselves. -What It Takes To Be A Carer
People in the caring profession are prone to feeling guilty when they do something for themselves – believing, due to their dedication, that their every waking moment should be devoted to their charges. In fact, being so selfless that you neglect yourself completely is a counterproductive quality in a carer. As well as being empathetic, knowledgeable about their charge’s condition, and imbued with a good deal of patience, a carer needs to be able to recognise the signs of frustration and burnout within themselves, and to take steps to prevent their emotional state from reaching a point where they start to resent those for whom they are caring.
Patience is something which must be practiced – it comes with experience. A carer therefore needs to have experience at recognising and dealing with their own triggers. They need to know how to calm themselves down when they find themselves getting emotional, and to maintain an equable disposition under the most trying of circumstances. Empathy can help a lot with this. While a certain degree of empathy is innate, an empathetic connection can be helped along if the carer takes the time to learn about how the patient’s condition affects their lives. This makes them less likely to apportion ‘blame’ to the patient themselves should they find their demands in any way frustrating.
Perhaps most importantly, a good carer should find their work rewarding. If you basically don’t like looking after people, the life of a carer is not for you! However, if you do like looking after people but are prone to either intense guilt or frustration, you may want to look at working on these aspects of your character. Guilt – while connected intimately in many ways to empathy – is counterproductive when applied poorly. If you feel guilty every time you do something for yourself, you will ultimately hit burnout and be emotionally unable to provide the quality of care needed by your charges. If you are prone to frustration, you need to learn to recognise the warning signs and develop a system for combating it. In both cases, ensuring that you have a reasonable amount of ‘me time’ can really help. For more on coping with caring, read this article