Compassion and Care – they need to have a caring attitude, with compassionate and empathy toward the person they are caring for. Also they need a balance between being sensitive and empathetic and also firm enough to handle the challenging behaviours that sometimes come along with this work.
For example, if a client has dementia or is in physical pain, they really need your help but may make it difficult for you to help them. It is important to not take this personally and get on with the work of caring for them.
Resilience and a can-do attitude – as well as being able to have as much fun on the job as you can. I once worked in a residential care facility where residents were eating meals in their bedrooms. We decided to help them get out and about and have their meals in the dining room. But we were met with initial resistance, so we had to change our approach. For example, we could not directly ask ”would you like to come to the dining room for lunch?” because they would just say no, instead we suggested, “come to the dining room and I will help you, it will be a good change of scenery”. We didn’t give in to the resistance but gently persisted with a can-do attitude.
Not everyone wanted to eat outside their rooms and we always respect personal choice, but most residents ended up preferring to eat in the dining room once we had made this transition.
A genuine enjoyment of being with people – they need to enjoy working with people. If you don’t then this is the wrong industry. You are going to be working with vulnerable people so you need to be able to be comfortable with this. You’ll be walking into people’s homes who need your help and keeping a positive attitude and approach while building rapport is essential. Experienced carers know how to adapt their language to work with the individual as well as family members.
A love of learning – a willingness to learn and continue your education and development of skills. When people are genuinely interested in this industry, they will keep themselves informed of trends, standards and changes going on. They will take a more holistic approach and become a greater contributor to their clients because they have a wider awareness. This inherent passion and genuine love of the industry and what its purpose is will come through. At St Louis we support our staff to continue their self-development and make sure they have what they need to stay up to date. But in the end it is always up to the individual as to how much of this they learn and take on.
Flexibility – things don’t always go to plan as we are working with people, it’s a bit unpredictable. You might go and see a client and they may not want you there, what do you do? Be flexible and resilient – our best plans don’t always go to plan. People are people and their plans change. Also, being in the community sector with consumer directed care means that our clients are driving their care plans which means we must be flexible and attentive to their needs.