Home care is growing industry, with over 17,000 care assistants tending 7.6 million individuals. The clients are elderly, acutely ill, disabled or terminally ill. Though certification as a care assistant is not difficult to achieve, and most skills are learned in training, excellence comes with time and experience.
The critical skills needed are compassion, attention to detail, especially safety, and ability to work independently. Care assistants must take responsibility, work with other medical professionals, and have excellent diplomacy with clients who are sometimes suffering or unhappy.
Patience, compassion and respect are essential skills to care assistants. Clients need companionship that is suited to them specifically. A skilled care assistant will tune in to the needs of each client, learn their interests and work to create a pleasant day for them. This may include reading to the patients, helping them stay in touch with family and friends, or making certain they catch a favorite television show. The skilled care assistant will tune in to when the clients wants privacy and when they want to chat.
Cooking and Cleaning
No care assistant needs to be an expert at cooking or cleaning to do the job. These tasks are very light and may be little more than washing the dishes, doing a load of laundry or cooking a light lunch. But the skill is to do it for the clients in a way that pleases and is in keeping with their wishes. It can mean a great deal to clients when the care assistant remembers to buy a favorite brand or makes sure a favorite item of clothing is laundered, and washes each dish as soon as it is used.
Care assistants follow the directions of the nurse or physician to administer basic daily medical care. Aides must efficiently and carefully give or apply medications and check vital indicators such as blood pressure or temperature. Some skill is required to change dressings or adjust walkers, wheelchairs or respiratory equipment.
Helping the client bathe, dress, use bedpans and care for their teeth requires patience, compassion and attention to safety. Elderly or ill patients cannot attend to these tasks alone. But these tasks can be critical to their comfort, well-being and dignity.
The clients whom care assistants serve can have great difficulty moving from place to place, whether it is from the porch to the yard or the bed to the chair. Assisting with mobility is another area where skill is required to keep the client and the care assistant safe. A skilled care assistant will learn the proper pace for each client and the details of his or her mobility challenges.
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