Hire Someone Skilled in Caregiving: They Care About More Than Making a Living


Hire Someone Skilled in Caregiving: They Care About More Than Making a Living

leaves-75214_640A 2012 report released by AARP found that 42% of U.S. workers provided unpaid eldercare for a family member or friend over the last five years. And, 49% expect to do so in the coming five years. And, these statistics only reflect those caring for aging family members. We know a caregiving experience involves children, spouses, siblings and friends.

Caring for a family member or friend can be stressful, sad, overwhelming, heartbreaking and frustrating. On the flip side, the experience makes strong individuals, like family caregivers, more resourceful and valuable.

Which is why we hope corporations will hire family caregivers looking for employment as well as do what they can to retain their employees who care.

I know first-hand the value a family caregiver brings to an organization. During my almost 20 years of providing caregiving services, I've been blessed to have many family caregivers volunteering to help me. Without them, I believe I would be out of business. For instance, in 2012, @G-J, who cares for her husband, arranged for MariaShriver.com to feature a profile of my work. In addition, G-J gave us the idea for and contributed to one of our free eBooks, After the Diagnosis and created Coffee with a Caregiver. And, last summer, during a particularly difficult time for my business, @Trish, who cares for her brother and works as a legal administrator, raised money to keep me going--all within just two days.

We know that working family caregivers have many responsibilities. More important, they have unique skills that ensure they accomplish what's needed. In their words:

Prior to my husband’s spinal cord injury, I thought I was a good employee. However, the skills that I’ve learned from being his primary caregiver have made me a great employee. Overall, because of my husband’s injury, I have become a much more compassionate person which has helped greatly with many relationships at work, internal and external. I handle emergency situations easily and am able to stay calm and work through issues with others on the team. By managing my husband’s care, I’ve gained skills similar to those of a project manager. I am highly organized and a very good multi-tasker. I can take charge and I have learned how to lead (which is different from being ‘boss.’). I am a very effective communicator which I have honed over the past six years especially with the various levels I need to work with in my job and while dealing with my husband’s care. I am detail oriented. I can also recognize problems immediately and work to quickly solve them. However, one of the best skills I’ve learned is when and how to negotiate. This is a must in order to be a good caregiver and is a great skill for any employee to have in order to get things done with various positions at work. ~ Erin Hayes, who cares for her husband

As a real estate agent in Washington, I’m an “employee” to each of my clients. Caregiving has made me better at that because: #1 – I have to be ultra-responsible in dealing with all the various issues of life, which translates well into being ultra-responsible for helping clients. And #2 – I’ve learned so much over the years about aging in place needs and options. I can help clients prepare for caregiving needs in the home as well as offer creative ways to manage the needs that arise even if your home wasn’t originally set up for aging in place. ~ Kaye Swain, who cares for her mom

There are three dramatic changes in my work ethic that were directly related to my caregiving experience. Being the sole caregiver of my aging mom I had to learn new skills that I brought into the workplace:
1.) Multitasking. There was no choice but to juggle several chores at the same time since Mom had symptoms from Alzheimer's, and she was limited in what she was able to do. Plus, I was working full-time.
2.) Organization. Things had to be very organized and in its right place or Mom would get very confused and agitated.
3.) Time management: The only way I could have Mom’s breakfast ready, get her dressed, take her to adult day care, and get to work on time was learning how to manage my time. I made a daily schedule and hung it in her room so she could see what day she was going to day care, and I would know which days I’d have to come home to prepare her lunch and check up on her. I had it down to a T. My work skills improved dramatically since I incorporated what I learned from caregiving to my work, and it makes it so much easier. ~ Emily Placido, who cared for her mother

I believe being a working caregiver has made me an even more valuable employee. Yes, organization and time management skills are necessary both as a working caregiver and an employee. However, the biggest change that I have noticed is my empathy and even awareness of other working caregivers. Since I am in a managerial position, “seeing both sides” has allowed me to approve flexible working arrangements and be very understanding of the stress caregivers are already under when they walk through the door. Being a working caregiver has also highlighted the importance of communication in the workplace. It is essential to keeping harmony between the employer and caregiver. ~ Trish, who cares for her brother and, at times, her mother-in-law and husband

Caregiving has made me an invaluable employee in 3 ways:
1) I’ve learned to how to build great teams because it would be impossible to get the job done without the best people. And my dream team is made up of family caregivers of different talents, skill sets and personalities! They make the best multi-taskers and team players. They get the job done fast and on time because they know how to ask for help and don’t have egos.
2) I’ve learned to be much more decisive under pressure. I can judge what decisions can be made quickly versus those that need more time, information or consensus. As a caregiver, you are constantly bombarded with decisions that have to be made and sometimes you can’t make them alone.
3) I’ve become more of a big picture person. Caring for those who suffer chronic illnesses or who are near death make you constantly aware of what is important in life and puts situations into proper perspective. I don’t sweat the small stuff and allow my actions to be guided by my vision for the best outcome. ~ Susan Baida, who cares for her mom and her dad

Finally, a working family caregiver created our slogan for our Hire a Family Caregiver campaign ("Hire Someone Skilled in Caregiving: They Care About More Than Making a Living"). Read about Donna Embray, who created our slogan.

Working family caregivers bring invaluable skills:

  • Their tenancy means they stay with a problem until it's resolved;

  • Their out-of-the-box thinking means they find creative solutions;

  • Their tenacity means they can stretch a small budget into an enough budget;

  • Their attention-to-detail keeps projects and processes running smoothly;

  • Their life perspective means they focus on what's productive and important;

  • Their loyalty means they will contribute above and beyond to ensure a company does well.

Hire a family caregiver. You'll be amazed at what your organization will grow with their help.


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