What Being a Carer Means to Me

Caring for another is founded on purpose and responsibility.  The ultimate purpose of caring is its ability to transform both the carer and those who are cared for. In other words, my work is not just doing a job, it is offering a service to another. How I work is not set in stone, but ever fluid and responsive to client and family. It is through these interactions that we are all changed.

In my work I reflect the exquisite and true nature of care and have moved away from the narrative that says it is of low worth, hard, a burden, demeaning, undesirable and exhausting. It is my responsibility to reveal the hidden treasures to be found when we care for another and share this with others.  

When carer and cared for focus on the quality of the caring relationship shared with each other, we enter an enriching partnership that can span a single day, months or many years.

In some cases, clients I work with experience a difference in how they see themselves and their life. They become more confident, open and trusting.

When I care for another, I walk beside them, support them, sit with them and listen to them, through different circumstances and whatever life stage they’re in.  I work with aged clients – elders who may be in recovery from bereavement, following an accident, or living with chronic or progressive illness.  They often live alone at home. As a live-in carer, I support a single client in their own home as carer, companion, playmate, cook, administrator, shopper, driver, housekeeper and nurse.  These tasks are brought alive by the quality I bring to them.

When we love the work we do, it becomes effortless.

Nothing is a chore or ever too much. What I bring to care is love, enjoyment, lightness and playfulness. Mostly, I bring myself – I am not playing a role. People feel my genuineness and it is this they connect with.

Purpose and responsibility

Without purpose, care is reduced to a merely functional activity. When care becomes a box ticking exercise, a ‘going through the motions’ in attending to the care of another, the treasures and richness in working together cannot be felt or truly valued.

In my experience the foundation of true care is the quality of relationship built with each client. My purpose is not simply to get a job done or get through a day, but to support another fully, often in their end of life journey.  My way is to work and reflect that as long as we have breath in our body, life has not ended: with that, there is much to learn, grow, heal and enjoy in each and every moment. My prime responsibility is to reflect to clients that they are loved, valued, respected and accepted in full for who they are, regardless of their phase of life.  I do not judge them or have any expectation of where or how they should be. 

There is no good or bad client.  They are simply clients.

One view I have is that there is only ever one client with different flavours and in essence there is no difference.  And while each may have specific needs, the qualities I bring to everyone are the same.  My responsibility is to observe them, understand them and allow them to be themselves.  I work by the maxim, ‘Never judge a book by its cover’, but seek to look within the pages to discover, understand and learn.

For example, once when assigned a new client, I often met resistance, hesitancy, fear, even hostility.  I loved what was presented because it was for me to find a way with the client, not for her to be any different.  I observed her, listened to her, was patient, and super delicate with her. I had no expectations. Slowly over time she ‘got me,’ felt my gentle way and genuineness and opened up to me.  Equally important was that I ‘got her’, which meant fully accepting her as she was. This is the heart of being a carer. When we both deeply connect with each other, a relationship blossoms.

Rarely does outward behaviour deflect me away from purpose – to continue to offer love through my every move and everything I do.  This is the consistent way I am with clients and because I do not judge, clients place their trust in me. One client with partial vision couldn’t see me but learned to feel me and very soon, despite initial defensiveness, completely opened up to me.  Moments like this are precious and to be deeply appreciated.

The heart of caring for another is in the relationships I build with clients, families, friends and medical practitioners over whatever period I am with them. Deep friendships with clients and families have flowed almost organically, without trying. Suddenly it’s there and beautiful to experience when it happens.  With relationships like these, learning is mutual.  I’ve learned much from my elder clients and their families, as they have learned from working with me. 

The jewel of caring for another is the privilege of entering the lives of elders and connecting and building deeply enriching relationships with them.

Caring for another is not a job.  It is a service I provide and way of life I value.  It is my life, and what I am here to do, and I willingly accept and respect the responsibility bestowed on me.   

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