By Vincent Weaver
Whether you are an experienced caregiver or not, there is always the potential to fall into the daunting and overwhelming feelings of inadequacy and insignificance. As the passionate caregiver aims to help make a change for the better in someone’s life, sometimes this seems impossible and can lead to a loss of motivation and a lack of attention to detail. Here are some simple tips that can help a struggling caregiver regain the feelings of ability and usefulness that are necessary in order to give high quality care in any setting.
Within the caregiving environment there is a high probability for unsafe situations, whether they are accidental or purposeful. Being fully aware of your surroundings and all potential outcomes can allow you to prevent a harmful situation.
Be aware of the behavior of those involved with giving care. I’ve too often seen inappropriate behavior in the form of verbal and physical abuse. By recognizing signs and symptoms of abuse you can actively become a solution to the problem. If any sort of abuse is recognized take action immediately. Voicing your disapproval of the abuse can usually solve this. In a serious case it may take immediate and direct intervention to resolve the situation, including calling 911.
Awareness also comes in the form of foresight. Always be aware of hazardous objects and substances. Someone might reach for a hot stove or accidentally grab the wrong end of a sharp utensil. Be aware of the potential outcomes, so that you may be the one to prevent an accident or injury. Another way to prevent injury is by being aware of the condition of medical equipment and devices. Notice if there are any broken or weak points that might give out or cause the device to fail.
On another note, be aware of the widespread problem of medical fraud. According to Attorney General Eric Holder, “Every year we lose tens of billions of dollars in Medicare and Medicaid funds to fraud. Those billions represent healthcare dollars that could be spent on medicine, elder care, or emergency room visits, but instead are wasted on greed.” That adds up to between 3% and 10% of total health care expenditures across the country. This crisis is much less visible (though it does occur), but it is always worth it to voice a concern rather than let your suspicions subside.
Cultivating situational awareness will allow the caregiver to recognize when danger is apparent as opposed to letting fears and worries run rampant. At the very least, knowing what types of dangers you are keeping people from will create a positive impact on the person you are caring for.
The ways in which you carry and express yourself are quite influential and important. In this regard, an incredibly effective practice for improving the overall atmosphere of a caretaking setting is noting your levels of kindness. To show that you genuinely care for the wellbeing of another person can sometimes be enough in itself to enact change. This is also true for showing kindness towards others involved with the caregiving. Having a kind relationship with all who are involved helps enforce a healthy and functional environment all around.
Additionally, your own health is very important when it comes to being an effective caregiver. Coming to work feeling positive and refreshed, getting enough sleep and exercise, maintaining a healthy intake (moderation is the key to everything!) and being a healthy person overall will be a positive influence on the person under your care.
Lastly, training and education are extremely important tools. You can protect yourself from injury and maybe even save someone’s life. Learning about proper body mechanics can prevent back injuries when you need to help someone in and out of bed. Knowing more about the illness of the person you are caring for is very important. Being CPR certified at all times is crucial (you have to renew certification every two years) especially because the rules of certification continue to change. Being aware of all proper technique and training opportunities will boost your confidence when you have another human being’s life in your hands.
Confidence is all about being equipped with the proper skills and knowledge in order to be proficient at your job. It may take time to become an expert, but with a positive outlook and a foundation of skills to improve upon, you will have confidence that your presence makes a significantly positive difference in someone’s wellbeing.
We’re always accepting submissions to the NAMI Blog! We feature the latest research, stories of recovery, ways to end stigma and strategies for living well with mental illness. Most importantly: We feature your voices.
Check out our Submission Guidelines for more information.
Call the NAMI Helpline at
In a crisis,
Find Your Local NAMI