What is it like to be a caregiver? Your clients and their loved ones probably never expected to be caring for a person who is sick or has a disability. As professional caregivers, we need to ensure a meaningful quality of life for our clients, the care recipient, and ourselves. Just as the care recipient has special needs, so does the professional. Job security with appropriate pay and benefits contribute to a positive professional self image. People who are appropriately compensated and trained are better workers.
Respect by clients is another aspect of this issue. Too often people who need our services do not realize that we are trying to help them do what is necessary to maintain or achieve their independence. It is our responsibility to help our clients understand our roles and empower them to be good consumers of our services.
Professional caregivers must also serve as advocates for our clients. We must work together (with our clients) to get public and private agencies to be more responsive to the needs and concerns of people who need our services. The professional caregiver and care recipient need to work with each other in a respectful relationship. The care recipient and their families need to understand the role of the professional intruding in their lives.
How do we accomplish this goal? First, we must advocate for better conditions for ourselves and our clients. Second, schools need to teach human service workers how to effectively work with people who have special needs. Agencies need to reinforce this training with in-services and ongoing supervision. Third, the government needs to be responsive to the concerns of people who have special needs or may be homebound, and their caregivers. This includes providing better benefits and not cutting home care and other human services.