Caregiver Blog: The Unwritten and Unlikely Roles of Caregivers

Article Categories: Caregiver Corner & Caregiver Tips and Tricks

A caregiver is a lot of things to a patient and the patient’s family. A big part of their duties is providing personal care to the patient and assisting them with activities of daily living. These responsibilities are written and described in employee manuals and are expected to be carried out by caregivers according to the best practices of their institutions.

What’s interesting is there are certain skills that are hidden or disguised within their primary roles. Funny, since we all know caregiving is already a challenge in the real world! So, what are these hidden skills?

Here are some roles that are not technically in the job description, but caregivers accomplish anyway:

1. Hairstylist

Patients sometimes request a certain hairdo that they’re comfortable with or they feel good about and caregivers just do their best to deliver. Going the extra mile, caregivers can even apply hairstyling products. If you are a newbie and have no idea how to gather hair in a nice, neat bun, you could be in for a challenge!

If you’re out of practice, browse YouTube for simple hairstyle tutorials to sharpen your skills, or even ask your patient for tips on styling their hair in a way that suits them.

2. Chef

Cooking is one thing. Being tasked with preparing food that is low-fat, zero-salt, unprocessed, and mostly fruits and vegetables is another. Your patient happened to be a meat-lover, which they now avoid (and which likely exacerbated their health problems). You still need to come up with something appetizing and healthy.

So, use your creativity to provide a healthy, appetizing meal and cross your fingers that the patient is hungry! Ask your patient for some of their favorite recipes to see if they can be modified or search the internet for healthy options with easy-to-follow steps.

3. Event Organizer

Three of your patients seem down lately. One is becoming more confused, another doesn’t want to leave their room, and another is twice as difficult to work with. As their caregiver, you suggest to your supervisor that they need a new and fresh activity to perk them up and stimulate their minds.

As soon as your supervisor gives the green light, you get into action. Is it music, art, or dance? When’s the best time for all three of them? Who sits with who? How do you encourage them to gather in one place? All of a sudden, you’re not just hosting an activity, you’re an event organizer!

To avoid feeling overwhelmed, start small and create a meaningful, enjoyable activity for a few patients. Once you get the hang of it (and understand everyone’s preferences), move on to activities a little more complicated to plan.

4. Negotiator

You are a home health aide, and one day your patient decides not to take their medications. Naturally, their family is concerned and attempts to force their loved one to take their meds on time. The struggle and tension are real and growing, and you stand in the middle. What do you do?

You know that the patient needs to continue their meds. You also know that both sides should calm down. You know you're the odd one out, but the only person who can help. You are an instant negotiator.

Communication skills are absolutely key in these situations, as well as a concrete knowledge of patients’ rights. Be sure to advocate for your patient at all times.

5. Fashion Stylist

True, the patient makes the final decision on what to wear, but it was you who came up with the choice of clothes. The important thing is taking into consideration a patient’s tastes as well as their comfort and safety. Make sure their clothing is not too light (or heavy) for the elements and provide choices that are appropriate to their lifestyle and needs.

Congratulations! Now they’re dressed warmly for the cold weather!

Caregivers are truly amazing workers. They are asked to wear a thousand different hats while advocating for the patient’s best interests in every task.

Do you relate to these situations? Can you add any to the list?


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