Whether looking for pediatric in-home health care for a medically fragile child or a home health aide for an elderly parent, there are certain characteristics that are imperative for this line of work. Just because someone has all the correct qualifications does not mean that they have the right qualities for the job. If you are a certified nursing assistant (CNA) or another healthcare professional who is considering providing in-home care, you may consider whether or not you embody these important qualities.
Perhaps most importantly, an in-home caregiver needs to be compassionate. Healthcare providers tend to be people with empathy; why else would you enter a helping profession? However, when you are going to someone’s home to provide care, it’s especially crucial to have compassion. Whether you are working with medically fragile children or the elderly, you are helping a vulnerable population. With aging patients, it’s important to be able to understand how difficult it is to age. Your body doesn’t work the way it used to, even if you are feeling as competent as ever. Medical concerns come up more and more, and you have to face that the end of your life is coming soon. For children with medical complexities, they likely do not fully understand what is happening to them, and need a caregiver who will be able to communicate with them and help them understand in an age-appropriate way.
When you welcome someone into your home, it is a sign of trust. Opening your doors to others is a profound act of vulnerability. You don’t know whether or not they will judge you, steal from you, or violate your privacy, but you give them the benefit of the doubt. As an in-home health aide, you need to understand how intimate it can be to visit someone else’s home. This is true of both your patients and their families. A good in-home caregiver understands the leap of faith the family as a whole is taking and responds by always being worthy of that trust.
It is essential to be patient when you’re an in-home caregiver. When you are working with an elderly person, they may move slower, talk slower, or struggle to understand what you’re saying. It’s common for seniors to experience confusion, particularly with dementia patients, which can make them feel even lonelier and more isolated. Our in-home healthcare providers also often work with children with certain developmental disabilities that may make it difficult to understand what they are saying or hard for them to process what you are saying. You need to be patient in order to give them the space to tell you what they need. In addition, you will be working with the family of your patient, and they will need you to explain your care plan to them. You may have to do this multiple times, so you need to be able to do so patiently.
No one day is predictable in the life of an in-home health aide. This makes for an interesting career, but one where you often have to think on your feet. If you’re going to design a care plan and adapt to the day-to-day needs of your client, you need to be able to get creative. You need to be able to take what you know about their personality and preferences and treat them the way they will respond to. Creativity is key to implementing a customized care plan.
When you provide in-home care, you need to be consistent. A big part of what you provide as an in-home health aide is someone your client can trust to be there when they need you. This is important for children, adults, and the elderly alike. When you offer a predictable person for them, they can feel more comfortable, making your care more effective.
In-home health aides are generally juggling a lot of plates. Multiple clients, continuing education, paperwork, plus all your responsibilities in your personal life — there is an abundance of factors to consider on your schedule and in your mind. If you’re going to be a successful in-home health aide, you need to be organized.
Simply put, you need to care. This work is highly rewarding, but it’s challenging. Not everyone is cut out for it, and if you don’t have a passion for what you’re doing, you will burn out quickly. The most successful home healthcare workers are the ones who genuinely believe in what they are doing and want to do the work more than anything else.
At Evergreen Home Healthcare, we are always looking for individuals with nursing degrees who embody these qualities. If you believe you have what it takes to join our team, we would love to meet with you to talk about our job opportunities. Check out our Employment page to learn more about the available positions open!