Picking Your Elective Modules: What Factors to Consider?January 18, 2024
The Top Career Avenues for Law Students That They Should Look IntoJanuary 21, 2024
Article written by Nisha Rikhi, BA in Politics and International Relations from University of Sussex, GDL graduate, and current LPC student.
Caring for the elderly is an honour and a privilege. You learn skills that can transfer to a myriad of other jobs, be that in the medical profession, the hospitality industry, the personal services industry or another job in the caring industry.
Selflessness and Responsibility
Selflessness and responsibility are the most important attributes of any carer. This is because when one is caring for an elderly relative, one must put their needs first. Dependent relatives are often extremely vulnerable and in need of a great deal of care. This makes being a carer a very responsible job that is highly demanding, which makes being selfless mandatory. It is important for a carer to be selfless because the core part of the role of any carer is to manage and fulfil the needs of the dependent that the carer is responsible for. That responsibility must be taken seriously and a carer who is in a rush to leave or who conducts their duties in a slapdash fashion is likely to not be taking their responsibility seriously. Therefore, embracing a pragmatic mindset is part of being a carer.
Pragmatism is very important for a carer. This is because being pragmatic allows the carer to recognise what they can do as opposed to what they would like to do. Pragmatism is critical for a carer as very often the person doing the caring has sacrificed things they would like to do to look after their elderly relative. Instead of going out in the evening with friends or going on holiday, the carer is choosing to stay at home and look after their relatives. Carers are able to do this because they have realistic expectations about the activities that they can take part in. As much of the volunteering and working world has moved online as a result of the Covid-19, opportunities for carers to have their own fulfilment through work or volunteering has increased. This means that it has become increasingly pragmatic for carers to fit volunteering online or working from home around some of their caring obligations. However, this is only possible if the carer is prepared, organised, and manages their time effectively.
Preparation, Organisation, and Time Management
Preparation, organisation, and time management are important to caring for an elderly relative. Being a carer requires one to wear many hats. On any given day you could have to prepare meals, get medication ready, make tea, do the laundry, and ensure that everything the elderly person needs to ensure their comfort is present. This means that the carer must be organised and manage their time effectively to ensure that all the necessary tasks are performed in good time. Preparation is key as ensuring that one has prepared all the components of a meal in advance, for example, can greatly ease the time pressures that one could find oneself under at mealtimes. Consequently, being able to anticipate the needs of the person being cared for, prepare to fulfil those needs and organising one’s time around that, requires the carer to be emotionally tuned into the situation.
Emotional intelligence is a key part of any caring role. This is because caring for an elderly relative involves a great deal of emotional investment. That means that being able to understand and manage one’s emotions as well as having the ability to recognise the emotions of the person that is being care for is a valuable skill for any carer. Hence, compassion is a vital asset for anyone fulfilling a caring role. Caring for an elderly or disabled person successfully requires a carer to empathise with the feelings of the person in need of care. This is because the person being cared for may be upset that they are unable to do all the things they used to do or be in distress because they find their personal ability becoming more limited. Showing kindness to that older person and demonstrating an understanding of how growing old is affecting that person is particularly important. It reminds the person being cared for that they are not just an old person in need of care because they are frail, but a human being who has feelings, desires, and needs, like any other. That is why patience is a valuable quality for a carer to possess. This is because people being cared for, particularly the elderly, will often reminisce about the past and they will often want to tell the same stories that they have told many times before. The job of a carer is to sit with the elderly person, listen attentively and show an interest in the person’s past. Being patient is important because no matter how tedious listening to the same stories may feel to the carer, reminiscing about the past will bring a great deal of comfort to the elderly person being cared for. The emotional investment, compassion and patience required to care for an elderly person makes choosing to commit to caring for that person vital.
Caring for elderly relatives requires conscious commitment. It requires the carer to choose to place more importance on the needs of their elderly relatives, as opposed to thinking of themselves first. Caring brings enormous responsibilities that one can only begin to fully appreciate once they have become a carer. With that fact comes the acknowledgement that a carer is taking on an enormous commitment that requires the selfless sacrifice of the carer’s own desires to fulfil the responsibilities that come with caring for an elderly person.
According to Carers UK, there are 3 million people who combine work with unpaid caring and carers make up 11% of the total UK workforce. This means that employers should value those employees and workers who are unpaid carers and who form a large bulk of employees and potential job-seekers. This is because they have a unique set of skills that most people only begin to develop when they find themselves becoming parents or carers for elderly or dependent relatives themselves. The skills that a carer develops through taking on a caring role can be immensely valuable to an employer, and employers should seek to support employees who disclose that they have caring responsibilities at home. Employers should support carers by offering flexible working and paid time off for emergencies, both of which would help unpaid carers enormously, given the fact that the caring needs of the employee’s dependent could change at short-notice and is often unpredictable.
In conclusion, although the demands of being a carer are not often visible, these carers bring a unique set of skills to the workplace. Employers should therefore embrace the idea of hiring and supporting unpaid carers as they often possess the skills that employers are looking for in potential candidates for a job.
By Nisha Rikhi