What Does It Take To Be A Carer?

Whatever your thoughts on Brexit, I think we can all agree that the shortage of carers it has created is going to have a terrible impact on the most vulnerable members of our society. The UK is currently short of approximately 380,000 care workers, and it is our elderly - our mothers and fathers, our grandparents, and ultimately ourselves, that will suffer most. Now would be the perfect time to consider if you really want to be a carer.


The caring profession has gallantly soldiered on in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, but as the dust has settled and we begin to return to some degree of normality, one thing has become abundantly clear: our nation is in desperate need of dedicated, enthusiastic, compassionate people who have a calling to help others and who are looking for a rewarding and satisfying career. 


Caring is a calling - and not a profession that everyone is cut out for. We have been called ‘unskilled’ by those in government, when nothing could be further from the truth. It takes a physical, emotional and mental toll to be a carer - sometimes at the expense of relationships with family and friends….but it’s not just what we do - it’s who we are: carers. 


Carers suffer from extreme levels of stress - in fact, more so than in most other industries - and so it’s no wonder than turnover rates for the profession is high; nearly twice the average for other professions in fact, with 58% of carers leaving their jobs in less than a year, and a shocking 73.5% leaving within two. 


Those who stay, who dedicate their lives to the care and wellbeing of others, are a special breed. They can’t imagine doing anything else and, for them, the pride and job-satisfaction that come with the territory more than make up for everything else. 


If you’ve been thinking about a career as a carer, you might have asked yourself, ‘Do I have what it takes?’


Let’s find out….


Do You Have A Passion For Helping Others?

The desire to help and care for other people really needs to be top of the list when it comes to your decision to be a carer - and a natural inclination to put the needs of others before your own doesn’t come naturally to everyone. 


Carers need to be supportive, sensitive and understanding. You’ll be dealing with people when they are at their most vulnerable - needing help with personal care for example, such as going to the toilet or taking a bath. It’s the job of a carer to ensure that those in their care don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed, but that they feel safe and respected. 


If you are a naturally compassionate person, caring is a very rewarding job - imagine knowing that you are making a difference to someone’s life; making them happier and their life easier.

Do You Have A Willing And Flexible Nature?

It’s so important that someone working within the caring profession is dependable and reliable. 


Your hours might be unusual or your schedule might change in order to fit the needs of a client - this is not a predictable 9-5 role! This is particularly true for those who work as live-in carers.

 

For those working in the field of at-home care there will still be a degree of unpredictability in your role - even if your hours are a little more ‘set’, so it’s important that before you consider becoming a carer that you decide whether this will fit in with your current lifestyle.

Do You Have Good Communication Skills?

Being a carer will require you to be able to engage with your clients and respond to their needs in order to provide them with the care they need - and for some clients that might mean adapting the way you communicate. 


For example, if you are caring for someone who is hard of hearing you might need to elevate your voice and slow your speech. Or perhaps you’re caring for someone with dementia, who might need visual clues when you’re speaking to them - holding up a teacup when you are asking them if they want a brew for example!

Are You A Good Listener?

Older people often don’t feel that they are listened to, and that can leave them feeling neglected, isolated and frustrated.


A good carer always pays attention to their clients - it’s not a case of getting in there, carrying out whatever task needs to be done, and then hurrying off. 


As a carer, listening involves more than lending a friendly ear...a carer needs to be observant and look out for signs of depression, anxiety and illness. 


There might not always be visible clues, but listening to what an older person says (or reading between the lines when it comes to what they don’t say!) could tell you a lot about their mental and emotional state.

Are You Patient And Can You Keep A Cool Head?

Being a carer can often be a thankless task and ageing can be a difficult, confusing, and sometimes painful process. Combine the two, and stressful situations can sometimes arise.


You might be taking care of the needs of an older person who becomes easily frustrated because they’re struggling with mobility, their memory, or who are in pain. 

Perhaps they are feeling lonely or frightened as they become more frail or as the world changes rapidly around them, and it’s only natural that they might take that anger or fear out on those around them - including those who are trying to care for them.


If you’re someone who loses their patience quickly, or you don’t handle difficult or stressful situations in a calm manner, the caring profession might not be for you!


Carers need to stay cool and collected, and to have empathy and compassion for their clients - whatever the circumstances! 

Are You A Reliable Person?

Reliability is key if you want to be a carer. You will be one of the most important people in your client’s life, providing stability and security, so being there when you are needed is imperative. 

Are You A Sunny, Cheery Person - Come What May?

We all have down days, but a huge part of being a carer is leaving your own bad mood at home and making your client’s day a little brighter. 


Older people can suffer from depression and low moods - especially during the festive season, or if they have no family or friends around. 


These moods can make older people uncooperative when it comes to eating and drinking, or lead to them not taking care of their personal hygiene. 


Positivity creates a domino effect that can improve the physical and mental wellbeing of those around them - you could be that positive, sunny influence in the life of an older person!

 

Caring is not a job - it is a vocation, fulfilling a need within you to help others. If this sounds like you, and you’ve just read a list of your own skills and characteristics, maybe you should consider if you'd like to be a carer! 

 

Get in touch with us here at Care In Kent and find out more about one of the most fulfilling and life-changing things you can do!

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