The Benefits of Being a Carer
We often hear about the sacrifices carers make, but we don’t hear enough about the benefits of being a carer. Whether family or professional, carers gain a lot from their role. In fact, many carers feel that caring has helped shape who they are as a person. These benefits make us better carers and they make us more balanced people. When we keep them in mind, we remember the bigger picture and focus on what’s most important in life.
The Positive Impacts of Being a Family Carer
1. You will know who your true friends and family are.
Being a family carer can be lonely, but it will also show you who your true friends are. They’re the ones who are willing to offer help or keep you company. They’re the people who will listen to you talk about the difficult moments. They will celebrate your victories alongside you. When someone is there for you in your most challenging moments, you’ll develop a deep trust. Caring helps you realise which relationships are your best and strengthens them even further.
Takeaway Tip: Sometimes it can be hard for your loved ones to know how to be there for you. If you’re feeling isolated, learn to ask for help from a trusted friend or family member. Tell them you’re feeling lonely and ask if you can go out for coffee or even take a walk together. Your loved ones may not reach out because they’re worried about burdening you with more obligations. Make it clear that you appreciate the time you spend together.
2. You will learn not to second guess yourself.
As a carer, sometimes you might second guess yourself. Remember, you don’t have to be the best at everything to be the best carer for your loved one. Even if you do everything right, people get sick and scary things happen sometimes. It’s easy to blame yourself but you’re not responsible for protecting your loved one from everything. Do your best and treat yourself with compassion.
3. You will become confident in your ability to handle anything.
Caring will throw you a lot of curveballs and you’ll serve in a lot of different roles. You will talk to doctors, nurses, case managers, lawyers, and physical therapists. You’ll learn to administer medications and help someone dress, amongst other new skills. Caring will equip you with new skills to handle many situations in all areas of life.
Takeaway Tip: Remember, even if you can handle everything, you aren’t responsible for everything. People will notice that you have a good head on your shoulders and may begin to turn to you for help. Helping others is a wonderful thing, but you also need to remember to protect your time. If possible, offer advice and guidance instead of doing things for others. Share what you’ve learned and empower others to achieve their own successes.
Read: Celebrating the Family Care Worker
4. You will come to understand what you truly value.
Family carers can burn out when it feels like everything is important and urgent. If you take the time to think about your values and priorities, you’ll have an easier time saying no to things that could drain you. When you’re asked to do something, ask yourself if it aligns with your values. If it doesn’t, you can choose to say no.
5. You will experience the normal rhythms of being a family.
Everyday moments like pottering in the garden, cooking, tending to children are part of what make up a good life, and being a family carer can help you to enjoy more of these times with your loved one. Find a way to spend little moments with your loved one doing everyday activities that you both enjoy.
Avoiding Carer Burnout to Reap the Benefits of Being a Carer
If you’re a family carer and live with the person you care for, you will burn out if you feel like you’re always on duty. Don’t make everything about caring. Allow yourself to have a simple dinner with your loved one without worrying about their needs. Reframe your thinking and try to enjoy experiences for what they are.
It’s easy to get caught up in your responsibilities but caring isn’t only about the day-to-day care we provide. It’s about connection and sharing a life with the person you care for. Just like you don’t want to spend every moment as a carer, your loved one doesn’t want to spend every moment being taken care of. They want to experience life with you beyond the things you do for them. And this is one of the greatest benefits of caring. It gives you the opportunity to experience the joys of being a family.
The Benefits of Being a Professional Care Worker
Make no mistake, caring is hard work. It requires dedication, commitment, responsibility and integrity. The scope of Care Worker responsibilities can be exhaustive but the benefits of being a Care Worker can also be significant. What motivates paid Care Workers to choose the work they do? Let’s look at some of the benefits of caring and some examples from real Care Workers:
1. The Desire to Help
Caring is a helping profession. Providing caring to a senior in their home brings enormous benefits to the Care Worker and the family member. Events such as illness, accident or slow decline can cause the need for help in the home. To assist someone is to understand a person’s needs and meet or exceed those needs. The trust and appreciation that develops is rewarding and empowering for both Care Worker and family member.
Often, the presence of a Care Worker can allow someone to remain in their own home avoiding assisted living or nursing home care. Fostering independence and improving someone’s quality of life is the goal of caring. Depending on the situation this can take many forms, from maximum functional assistance to companionship and socialisation.
Desiree, one of Home Care Assistant’s Care Workers puts it this way:
“Being a Care Worker is such an honour! It’s all about putting away my needs to assist someone. Knowing that a smile on my face can bring joy and happiness to someone else is priceless. The moments when I can reflect back and see how I’ve helped someone is what caring is all about.”
2. Diversity of Experience
Home care Care Workers experience a wide variety of individuals with complex needs. There is no one-size-fits-all situation. Care Workers have the ability to adapt to different lifestyles, backgrounds, races, and disabilities. This requires putting personal preferences aside to connect and adapt to the person. A skill that more of us could use!
3. Learning New Skills
Depending on the tasks a Care Worker is allowed to do in their state, learning new skills is just part of the job. Care Workers do everything from running errands to checking blood pressure, to helping improve functioning.
Training opportunities allow Care Workers to hone their skills. They learn how to deal with dementia, activities of daily living, transfers, and companionship. These are lifelong skills that transfer to all aspects of a Care Worker’s life.
Some people don’t want to sit at a desk! Caring is an active job. It also involves working with different people and families at different times. Many Care Workers enjoy making their own hours and designating a schedule that works best for them.
Some home care workers prefer part-time, some full-time. Others prefer mornings or nights and weekends. Most agencies will work with Care Workers to accommodate their preferences while still meeting the needs of individuals.
Care Workers relieve family stress. This allows family members to take a break from caring duties. They also can allow a person to remain independent at home while improving the quality of their life. Here are some examples of real Care Workers and their positive experiences with people and family members.
Cassandra from Home Care Assistance has a perfect example of how a Care Worker can make a significant impact on someone’s life:
“Cassandra was asked to work with another client for a few days. This senior recently lost her husband and was struggling to perform daily tasks like bathing and grooming. Thanks to Cassandra’s encouragement, the senior began doing these activities and more in a matter of days! This included making and committing to doctor’s appointments, which the senior had not attended in a long time. Cassandra not only co-ordinates these appointments with the senior but escorts her to them as well. Her top priority is making sure her clients always feel safe and comfortable.”
Diana, another Care Worker talks about the mutual benefit of helping someone become more self-sufficient while improving her self-esteem:
“Other things I find [important when] working with clients is making them their favourite meals and giving them little treats of their favourite desserts.
For those who don’t struggle with dressing, dressing them up even if they are not going out raises their self-esteem, especially if they receive compliments from family members or guests.
Last Sunday, my client was complimented by some young ladies who said she was dressed so well she should appear in Vogue magazine, and she was over the moon!”
Caring tasks can be as varied as the individuals themselves. Diversity of tasks keeps Care Workers stimulated and can make the job more exciting. One moment a Care Worker needs to run errands; another time someone needs help in the shower or with dressing. At other times the unexpected happens and Care Workers have to think and respond on their feet and on the fly.
Edith shows how a Care Worker sometimes needs to respond in ways that are unpredictable and unexpected:
“It was a Tuesday. The weather channel was reporting some rain, but Edith arrived at the care community where her client lived without incident. She even remembers thinking that they were blessed to have rain after the fires around the area. But at around 4:00am, one of the resident’s sons came to inform everyone that the facility was flooding.
It was covered in mud, water, debris, and even fallen trees, one of which fell right on top of Edith’s car. Shortly after, they found themselves with no electricity, no phone service and trapped in the complex.
They realised the full scope of the tragedy when they were informed that no-one would be able to rescue them since a huge mudslide was blocking the roads. Edith knew she and the other two Care Workers in the facility had to take care of the residents and make sure they were safe.
They took care of the whole floor, making sure the residents were not panicking or frightened. Of course, everyone was frightened, including Edith, but she knew her priority was in giving aid to the residents. Edith persevered until everyone was finally evacuated on Thursday afternoon.”
As you can see by the examples above, caring is both demanding and rewarding.