The Skills and Values You Need To Become A Live-in Carer


Live-in care is one of the most rewarding and essential careers you can think of. You can help the elderly with dementia or other serious conditions stay safe and happy in their own homes. Thanks to a live-in carer, a person who needs help with everyday activities can get all the essential support without the need to move to a residential home.

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However, keep in mind that it is a responsible job and requires certain qualifications, values, and personality traits. As your clients will entrust you with the lives of their beloved parents, grandparents, or other relatives, they need to be sure you are the right person for this position. Keep on reading to find out the most important live-in carer skills and values.

What Is Most Important in a Live-In Care Job?

Before making a decision to pursue a career as a live-in carer, you should be aware of all it takes. Working with patients with dementia and other illnesses can be challenging, so everyone should make sure they are ready to face them. Here are some of the crucial skills and values every live-in carer should have.

Great Communication Skills

If you are tasked with providing help, you need to know what that person needs. For this reason, excellent communication skills are essential to be a good live-in carer. It includes not only verbal communication, but also non-verbal skills - sometimes you may need to communicate with a person who is unable to speak and/or hear you.

Using your body language, gestures, or pictures may be crucial to convey a message or understand it, so you should be ready to implement these alternative methods. What's more, sign language can be a great help, so if you know the basic, it will be a plus for some clients.

We only hire candidates who are good communicators. You should not only be able to let a care recipient know about something clearly but also listen properly to what they need.

Compassion and Empathy

Live-in care work definitely requires compassion because, in this way, you will be able to understand other people's distress, and it will make it easier for you to try to ease their discomfort. They may be experiencing some tough (or even painful) life circumstances, such as recovering from surgery, grieving after their dead spouse, losing memory and manual skills due to dementia, etc., so you need to be ready to accompany them in that hard time.

We know that putting yourself in the care recipient's shoes may not be that easy for a carer, as it can take a significant emotional toll. However, with proper training and experience, our employees manage to master such skills and properly support our clients' loved ones in the hard ageing process and help them go through it as painlessly as possible.

Organisation and Planning Skills

As a live-in carer, you will have to be responsible for many important aspects of an older person's life. Namely, you will have to do the cleaning, washing, and other household chores, as well as prepare nutritional meals for them and take care of their hygiene. You need to make sure that their environment is safe, clean, and comfortable to be in.

On top of that, you should take into consideration that people with dementia may not remember to do such important things as paying bills, posting letters, fulfilling formalities, or even taking their medicines on a regular basis. As a result, you should be a well-organised person with great planning skills so that everything can be done properly and on time.

Flexibility

A live-in care job is not like any other - here, you cannot have strict business hours because the care recipient's needs are not scheduled, and they do not end at a certain time. Of course, they may have more or less stable hours of meals, baths, or taking medications but there may also be many more unexpected and irregular situations when they need your help.

However, it does not mean a live-in carer needs to give up on their private life as a whole. A predetermined rota pattern will be created before you start working - for example, you may have to work consistently for 2 weeks and then have 2 weeks off. It happens that the rotation is longer, and you need to provide live-in care for 4 weeks to have a 2-week break.

Typically, such rotation can vary, and you can try to adjust it to your lifestyle. Also, to have some rest during the day, you will have a longer break (for, let's say, 2 hours). Nevertheless, such a job demands a lot of flexibility and the ability to adapt to unpredictable, ever-changing circumstances. During your break, you will have to vacate the property, but do not worry - you will be provided with help associated with arranging accommodation at that time.

Before starting your work as a live-in carer, please always remember to think if you have enough flexibility skills to adapt to the rota patterns and irregular working hours.

Interpersonal Skills

Working as a live-in carer is undoubtedly a socially interactive role as you will have to interact with your care recipient (or recipients) throughout the day. An extrovert personality is not essential, but it is undoubtedly key to have as good interpersonal skills as possible.

It will certainly help you to understand the older person better and establish a good relationship with them. In this way, your nurture can reach a higher level and provide more satisfaction from the service.

It is worth noting that some care recipients may feel lonely due to their health issues, spouse's death or other circumstances. Thanks to regular interaction with a carer, they can reduce their feeling of loneliness at least to a certain extent, so it is crucial to be open not only for helping them in various activities but also for having a conversation with them and listening to what they want to share with you.

Respect for Others

As you will have to deal with older people from various backgrounds, you should always respect any cultural, behavioural, or religious differences that may appear.

Keep in mind that as a live-in carer, you will enter someone's personal space and stay with them at their home, so you need to make them feel completely comfortable with you. Your service users need to have their privacy and feel free to spend time on their hobbies, practice their religion, and do everything they normally did before you arrived.

Of course, it is important that a carer feels comfortable in their workplace as well, so you should be open to talking to the care recipient and set some necessary boundaries, helping to reduce anxiety and stress on both sides.

The Ability to Take the Responsibility

Without any doubt, live-in care is a huge responsibility, as someone's well-being, health, or even life may depend on you. For this reason, a carer needs to be able to deal with such a duty and never underestimate the significance of their work.

You need to be aware that in case of an accident or another emergency, it is you who should react quickly and provide all the necessary help. You should be able to stay calm, call for medical help and provide first aid.

First Aid Training

Everyone should be able to provide first aid, but a live-in carer is especially expected to know it very well. You need to know how to deal with someone who has been injured, is having a heart attack, or experiences any other life-threatening circumstances.

It is definitely one of the crucial skills a carer should have because anything can happen and this ability can save someone's health or even life. Even if you call the paramedics as quickly as you can, they will still need some time to reach you, and in life-threatening situations, every second matters. Thanks to first aid training, a carer knows what position to put a care recipient in, how to dress a wound, how to perform CPR, etc. In this way, the client knows that even if their beloved one has an accident, there is a person on the spot who will do all they can to save them.

Summary

All in all, there are many skills and values that a live-in carer should have to do their work properly. They should have excellent interpersonal skills and be able to communicate with older people well, even if sometimes it may not be that easy. They should be empathic and understand all the unpleasant circumstances they might be experiencing, like a personal loss, dementia or other severe health issues.

On top of that, a carer should be able to take responsibility for the care recipient's safety and comfort and take an essential first aid course to know how to help someone in the case of an emergency. They should also respect people of all backgrounds and let them feel comfortable in their own homes. Outstanding organisation skills will also be valuable, but a live-in carer needs to be prepared for all kinds of unexpected situations as well.

At Hometouch, we hire professionals who have all the aforementioned skills and values, and more. We always carefully choose the employees with the highest qualifications to provide the highest-quality live-in care. With our staff, your beloved ones will be safe and well taken care of.

Dr Jamie Wilson
Founder and Chief Medical Officer at Hometouch
Dr Jamie Wilson is hometouch’s founder and Chief Medical Officer. Jamie’s creation of hometouch was inspired by his work as a dementia psychiatrist in the NHS, and he has written about healthcare issues in The Times and the Evening Standard. Jamie has a MBBS from the University of Leeds and has spent a decade in the NHS, working as a Psychiatric Registrar and Memory Specialist at Imperial College Hospital.