Not everyone is suited to caring, but some people seem to be just made for the job of a carer
Many care companies, particularly those that look after people in their own homes, find themselves recruiting carers who come from many walks of life. Often those people have no previous experience of caring, and it’s down to the recruiting team to decide whether or not the applicants are going to make the grade.
So how do they do that? How can they tell in the time of a short interview, that the person facing them is going to make a great carer? When it comes to personalities, carers have the full spectrum, but there are a few traits that are distinctly more useful than others.
Carers have genuine enthusiasm for people
No person is off-limits for those who genuinely like people. This means that it doesn’t matter if someone smells funny, says gruff or mean things, or is the sweetest older lady in the world – every one of those people will get the same great service from a people person.
Caring is all about wanting to help people. It’s about helping people maintain their independence for as long as possible, by doing some things for them that they can’t do, so they can go ahead and do everything else for themselves.
If you like and respect your people, and you want the best for them, you’ll make a great carer, and this will come out clearly in your job interview.
Practical and pragmatic carers
Writing as someone who is well known for being entirely impractical, you can feel assured that not being practical is not necessarily a barrier to working in care. If you know this about yourself, you should think about whether or not you’re receptive to training. Knowing what to do in any given circumstances, thanks to good training and a lovely supportive supervisor, was my saviour.
If you are a practical type, you’ll have a ball as a caring professional! The little problems that pop up 20 seconds before you’re about to leave someone’s house can usually be easily sorted by someone with a practical bent.
Whether that’s temporarily mending someone’s dodgy hearing aid, finding a pair of clean pants amongst the myriad washing their family has left them, or helping them up from an awkward position, you’ll manage just great with a minimum of external help. More power to you.
Carers are totally unsqueamish
Caring is one of those jobs where you really learn about yourself. You find out how much you can take on a number of different levels, and when it comes to handling squeam, you learn fast.
Whether it’s ear wax, vomit, faeces, saliva, blood, or even that little stalk of dirt that can appear in a person’s tummy button, you’ll eventually be faced with human effluence at some point. What’s more, you can’t show any sign of distaste! How bad would that be? Showing anything on your face or in your voice or body language could make the person feel embarrassed, and that would be horrible for them.
Again, squeam is where your practical nature can really work for you. From scraping up vomit from a plush armchair using a dining knife, to remembering to leave the moist toilet tissue within reach in the bathroom, practicality rocks. And again, all this can be trained in … what can’t be trained is how quick your stomach is to flip. If you’ve never had any experience of dealing with other people’s bodily fluids, don’t worry too much about it – you’ll probably find you surprise yourself, because the person’s need is greater than your need to run away.
Efficient and quick-functioning
You’ve probably already heard that many care visits take no more than 15 minutes in someone’s home. That doesn’t mean you’ve got nearly nothing to do, however. It might seem like 15 minutes is just enough time to say good morning to someone and hand them their tablets to take, but in reality you may need to make someone’s lunch, cook their porridge, help them clean up after using the toilet, and even assist them on with any prosthetics or orthotic equipment. And don’t forget to wash up!
If you can move efficiently, without seeming rushed, you’re on to a winner. The key is not making the person feel stressed by flying around doing jobs, but to keep things going. Prepare for the next job while you’re doing the first one.
If you’re always slow, always late, and you can never really catch up with yourself, you may find it hard to stick to time on your rota, and this can lead to a lot of stress, as well as questions from management if you’re regularly delayed.
Observant and aware
Observance really does make the difference between a good carer and a mediocre one. It’s important to notice differences in people because often the precursor to a serious illness or a visit to hospital is nothing more than a slight change in the way they are.
For example, I used to see a gentleman who often fell asleep in his chair or went back to bed after breakfast, because his medication made him drowsy. He also often had trouble waking up in the mornings.
One visit, I noticed that he kept trying to sit up as he awoke, but continually fell asleep as he rose, causing him to sink back into his bed with snores. Although he was often hard to wake, I had never seen him do this before. His face seemed very red and blotchy too, although it might have been from the effort of trying to sit up, but I decided to call a doctor for him, because although everything was explainable, it seemed a bit unusual for him.
The doctor sent him to hospital as she diagnosed him as having some kind of virus.
If you haven’t got any of the above personality traits, fear not, you will surely have something useful you can bring the team, but if you really don’t think you have it in you to face the surprises of everyday caring, maybe you could contemplate a nice office job instead!
The QCF Diploma in Health and Social Care Level 3 is a nationally recognised qualification based on the Health and Social Care National Occupation Standards approved by Skills for Care & Development. It is recognised by care providers, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), and nursing universities.