What It Is To Be A Caretaker

To be a caretaker requires me to be responsible, alert, have knowledge and experience of nursing actions. Keeping your ears and eyes well open, being able to observe changes and behaviours. In short, as a caretaker you must always observe your client, be respectful, have a good listening ear, be patient and loving in your actions.

Being helpful where it is really needed. Guiding the clients, giving them insight and encouragement in what they are good at. Letting them have their own choices. You have clients who whine, or start physically pulling you, because they don’t feel happy. Support in what they can still do themselves, however difficult it may be at times. Being honest with where they are in their lives. Bringing them into the moment, and not sweet talking them. That’s a pitfall for yourself as you can give yourself away, which makes you very tired.  

As a caretaker look good, clean and groomed. Not working in a hurry, that doesn’t do your client any good, but also for yourself. Be able to communicate well and state clearly and simply what your job is to do. Be clear and direct, and let the client talk and ask questions, then they feel seen and heard. As a caretaker you also have to take into account the family, who also have to be guided in the process of deterioration of their loved one.

You have to know what medication you are giving, how the client is taking it and if the client reacts to it. Keep yourself well informed, what to do if the client is not doing well and who to warn. You need to be aware of what materials are needed to care for wounds, and nursing techniques and how different devices work. You also have to prepare and cook food.

In short, you have to be at home with almost everything.

It’s not always easy to be a caretaker, because you have to deal with clients who are angry at life in general, or clients who don’t want to be helped, or just yell at you. You encounter the craziest situations and you don’t have to swallow everything. It’s important to look at what you can handle and to what extent you take things personally, otherwise you make it very hard on yourself.

You get to deal with clients who are very dirty, have skin problems, or have terrible physical conditions.  We then also have to deal with what they live in and providing care in homes that can be neglected and dirty. Like a house that is never aired where there has been smoking for years. You literally step into a big ashtray, and when you come out it’s like you’ve smoked yourself. Everything smells like smoke, your clothes, your hair.  Then we have to deal with animals, dogs and cats, that prevail in the house, where you get nauseous when you enter from the stench of the animals.

You also come across lonely clients who no longer realize what they are living in. They have become so far away from themselves, deadened, and so absorbed in their pollution that you have to put your mind to zero every now and then when you come in and report on how the situation is. You then have to arrange for a cleaning team to come and clean the house so that you can do your job. You want to be able to do your job well in a clean environment.

Being a caretaker is a beautiful learning profession, I learn a lot from it. Being and staying yourself while caring is a must. Don’t be afraid, and be very clear about what you do and what you don’t do. Don’t let yourself be used and communicate when something doesn´t feel right…very simple. Whether I take care of my family or clients, it doesn’t matter. Being open and being yourself makes working as a caretaker very enjoyable.

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