How to Empower Caregivers in Aged Care Jobs

We can do it

I was reading some comments from Leigh Kelly on her website recently about her definition of a caregiver and how to empower caregivers through training and it prompted me to think about what a caregiver is for us at Medcall Health Personnel Limited.

Medcall is a specialist health recruitment and staffing company and in our bureau we focus on the aged care and community sectors only. Whilst the article below uses the word caregiver to cover anyone in a caring type role (e.g. Nurse, caregiver/health care assistant/ at home carers/family etc), for the purposes of this opinion, I am talking about health care assistant / caregivers who are trained or work within the aged care sector around New Zealand. Most of our bureau employees are caregivers and mostly we advertise for caregiver jobs or aged care jobs throughout NZ ways to lose weight fast. Our aged care clients are a combination of small, medium and large providers with rest homes, dementia units, hospitals and independent living apartments and facilities. Although each has their own unique mission, objectives and offering – I think it is reasonable to presume they all share an overarching desire to support older New Zealanders and their family/whanau in the later years of life. For me/us (Medcall) our caregivers are hugely important to the day to day and future success of Medcall but more than that they are hugely important in ensuring that the older New Zealanders get the respect, care and support that they deserve. Caregivers are the life blood of care in NZ for older people and the importance of this cannot be overlooked. Caregivers (or health care assistants) might be people who have completed specific certificated training at a Unitec, or they may be people who have worked and learned on the job (or somewhere in between). Whilst there is an excellent argument that higher qualified is best, in reality our most incredible, hardworking, compassionate and capable caregivers are a combination of both e.g. some highly trained and some without formal qualifications.

In my experience as a clinical Nurse (I am a NZRN – graduated in 1988) and more recently running a staffing company in health, the caregivers who have chosen to work in this field to enhance someone’s’ life each day are by far the best. Those who really want to help others and to care for others by promoting wellbeing, a sense of security and dignity for others are truly outstanding. These people might be caring for my folks one day, for me, for you and yours.

Elderly Lady Chopping PotatoesA usual shift for caregivers includes helping people to wash/bathe, eat, drink, walk, attend activities, along with making beds, perhaps helping in the kitchen or with the cleaning and all the while ensuring that their ‘patients’ or ‘residents’ are getting what they need. The role can be quite ‘task’ orientated – a list of ‘things’ to achieve in a day but underpinning that list is the more challenging individual needs of each person and the caregiver’s ability to try and understand those and meet them. Each patient or resident in New Zealand will have a care plan, which is exactly as it sounds – a plan to establish what care is needed to achieve specific goals. Patient centric care-planning is the best of course – this simply involves the person at the centre of the care (and their family/whanau) as the main source of information. In creating a care-plan we seek to understand that person’s individual aspirations, desires and goals, but also their specific medical /health needs to ensure all facets of their wellbeing is considered. Generally a Registered Nurse, trained care-planner will lead this process but the caregiver is key in implementing what is agreed with the person.

Thankfully in our business our caregivers are helping older NZ’ers in a positive way every day. Sometimes our caregivers do not get it right or might feel pressured or perhaps lost their way in terms of why they are doing this job – because it is a tough one! To try and reduce this and to attract caregivers to our aged care jobs advertised, we ask for people who ‘care’ as one of the recruitment criteria. We then use very rigorous standards and include behavioural / personal type assessment tools that try and give us a clear picture if that caregiver is someone with the ‘care’ and compassion as a primary driver. Once on board, we spend time talking with and inducting our caregivers to try and align with Medcall’s tagline of “People Who Care” and discuss what this means for us and ways they can demonstrate this. We offer Leigh Kelly’s on line caregiver training to all our caregiving staff for free along with other modular and session based in service options to promote their professional growth and develop skills to give them tools to improve their care and enhance their careers and lives (we hope).

To our caregivers this is a chance to say thanks – thanks for taking great care of older NZ’ers and we hope that you take to your role each day the desire to improve, enhance, better your patients/residents day by offering them your passion to genuinely care about them and for them!

Jane Clements GM – Medcall Health Personnel Limited.