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What Makes a Good Caregiver?

Bear and a fox

Grant Mongin | Digital Marketing and SEO Specialist

One of the most important questions a homecare company can ask is what makes a “good” caregiver? Another way to phrase it would be, what are the traits of a caregiver that take them from simply providing a service, to being truly excellent at what they do. This question can be answered in 1000 different ways from 1000 different people and some of the top results will likely be dependable, kind, attentive, patient etc. While all of these traits are essential to providing the level of care we at Homewatch CareGivers of Crystal Lake are committed to, perhaps none is more important than empathy.

Dr. Brené Brown, who is a licensed social worker and researcher, has a lot of wonderful things to say about human connection, but her perspective on empathy can be especially impactful to the work of caregivers. In this short video, Brown distinguishes between empathy and sympathy by defining empathy as a response to pain or suffering that doesn’t seek to fix, but seeks to see and care for the other person. While sympathy tends to attempt to put a “silverlining” on the experiences of others. This is an understandable impulse; however, the effect is actually that it creates distance between you and the person you are trying to care for, and shame in the other person because their pain is being discounted. Whereas empathic responses display care and promote connection between people because it seeks to meet people where they are at, and to understand their pain.

The difference between sympathy and empathy is especially important to caregiving. Empathetic caregivers spend more time relating, and less time correcting because they are seeking to understand the position of their clients. Empathetic caregivers know how important patience and kindness is when dealing with vulnerable adults, especially those who are living with dementia. Empathetic caregivers are dependable because they recognize the importance of their role to both the client and their families. Empathetic caregivers are the best caregivers. Empathy is a practice, and sometimes it is difficult, which is why we always strive to ensure empathy is a value for each of our caregivers. As you are beginning to see in our employee spotlight series, Homewatch CareGivers of Crystal Lake has truly amazing caregivers and staff who allow empathy to drive their daily work. Empathy is one of our main values, and as such, is what animates our work and our hope is that you will feel the difference this priority makes on our care.

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