What are some great first steps for a new caregiver? If this is your first time stepping into the role, it can sometimes feel like culture shock. Some of these tips might be better for those who are family members or close friends AND caregivers, while others may be better suited for someone who was hired by the person needing care through an agency.
Either way, here are some tips:
Start perceiving yourself as the caregiver. This may sound strange, but the first step in being a really effective caregiver is identifying yourself as one. This will help reframe your life and allow you to think and act like one.
Get a solid and informed diagnosis of your patient's health. If hired by an agency, this may already be part of the process. If you're a family member who became the caregiver, it may require the input of a nurse or doctor.
Learn about what specific skills you will need in order to be a great caregiver. What extra training is available? Does your agency provide additional training? Are there certifications you will need in addition to the training required by your agency? These are great questions to ask the agency that you will be working with.
Talk about the things that might make you uncomfortable: finances and healthcare wishes. If you are hired for this case via an agency, you will probably have limited knowledge of these items.
Prepare Power of Attorney, Advance Directives, etc. and all other legal paperwork if you have the authorization to do so. Your home care agency should have information and resources on this topic.
Invite family and close friends in on the decision making. Especially if you are a family member who was chosen to be the caregiver, you will want a solid support system. If hired by the agency and assigned this case, you will need to build a relationship with the family and keep them informed on the day to day. Many home care agencies have policies built in to allow family members to stay up to date on what the caregiver has been accomplishing with the patient.
Become aware of all of the resources in your community (public libraries, hospitals, programs, senior centers, etc.).
Find a caregiver support system. Sometimes it does the heart good to spend time with others who know what you are going through. Spending time with other caregivers by joining a caregiver support group can be helpful.
We hope that these tips help you. If you're interested in more resources, call Blessings4Ever Home Care Agency at (215) 425-3950.