When working with clients and their families, we always think about how we can show people the quality of service we offer. How can we illustrate our quality so people know they can trust us with their families? So, we thought we would start exploring the way we measure quality both in the home care industry and at Griswold Home Care. Today, we want to focus on caregiver quality.
We get a lot of questions about the caregivers that are either on our team or referred through our registry. Clients often ask, How do you know you have the best caregivers out there? What do you look for in a caregiver? That led us to think about how we could explain the incredible people we work with every day. What does it mean to be a great caregiver? Is there a standard caregiver code of ethics? Can you standardize quality care in such a way? We can’t speak for the entire home care industry, but with over 30 years of experience, we feel confident sharing some of the ways we see quality in caregivers. We’ll also share some of the tools we use to find that small percentage who share both a passion and a talent for caregiving.
One of the tests we ask caregivers to fill out is a multiple choice general competency exam. We use it to determine how experienced or knowledgeable the caregiver is about best practices for emergencies, standard procedures required by law (like reporting abuse), how to provide certain types of services, and other fundamental non-medical health concepts like proper sanitary precautions.
Behavior Says It All
Not to knock the value of formal training, particularly for clients with specific conditions, but any professional caregiver can go through specialized training for working with conditions like dementia or Parkinson’s. You can read that skill in a job application, and it is certainly one of the pieces that contribute to a great caregiver.
What you can’t do is determine how a caregiver naturally acts and thinks until they’re in front of you. We call caregivers in for what we call “behavioral screenings.” We ask them to tell us about moments when a client has made them angry, when they have had trouble working with a client, and times when they worked with individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s. We ask them how they felt, how they responded at the time, and if they would respond differently now.
Search for the Spark
Caregiving can be a difficult job, especially with clients who are in pain or suffer from dementia. We need to know that the caregivers we hire or refer will always maintain their composure, compassion, and professionalism. But we’re also looking for that extra something in their tone of voice or in the stories they tell, that lets us know this person loves what they do and that their passion carries over into their work.
During a recent snowstorm, one of our local office’s referred caregivers walked 14 miles to check that his client had been cared for that day. Taking care of his client was more than a job in that moment. When we ask caregivers to tell us how they have responded to certain situations, we’re looking for instances where caregiving is more than a job. Because it is! It’s a calling and a passion. As Arthur Kleinman, an expert in the field of caregiver ethics, explains,“your own humanness deepens as you engage the humanness of somebody else.”
How would you define a caregiver’s quality or ethical care? Let us know in the comments below and stay tuned as we explore more topics related to caregiver quality and ethics.