What makes a good Carer, Companion?

You'd be forgiven for assuming there is a clear and obvious answer to this. However, there are a number of things to consider when going into someone’s home as a Carer, Companion. You might have years of experience in caring and consider yourself as having always been adept and aware of your client’s needs, but perhaps a new position requires more understanding or a reassessment of your usual methods of working. Perhaps you are starting out in your Carer, Companion career and are looking for pointers in how to feel comfortable in a new environment, and your client has very specific needs or habits. Whatever you're faced with, it is always beneficial to get a wider understanding of the situation and some external and professional opinion. Sensitivity and kindness are at the forefront of this role, and as such you should naturally be a 'people-person' and have lots of patience and a cheery personality. 

To help you understand some of the challenges Carer, Companions face, we have put together a situation you might be faced with and how to deal with it.

Situation 1 – Being sensitive to people’s habits

You are new to the role, having been a Housekeeper for 20 years. This live-in role requires both Housekeeping and some Carer, Companionship. Your employer is an 80 year-old widow who is very particular and suffers from anxiety. The client’s family are around 15 miles away with children of their own and busy lives. You’ve been in the role for four weeks and are struggling to feel comfortable as you feel the client doesn’t want you to ‘interfere’ with things. The Housekeeping element is difficult in some ways as the client likes to do things her way and this makes cooking and cleaning more difficult at times. The Carer, Companion element is working well, and you feel the client is beginning to relax around you at times but only when her mind is occupied with a game of scrabble or cards.

What do you do?

Building rapport with your client is the first and most important element of the role, you must get to know then and they you. You can certainly speak to the extended family about your concerns but the best things to do is to understand the habits and needs of the client by building a relationship that works. Spending time together doing an enjoyable but simple activity will lessen her anxiety and therefore offer an opportunity to talk about what you feel you want to adjust, but in a sensitive manner. 

In a situation such as this we advise you focus on what the client enjoys and during those times where she is relaxed, you gently broach the subject of how she would like you to do the Housekeeping tasks. Even though you are living there as a Carer, Companion and Housekeeper you must remember this is her home and her environment, and therefore you must respect how she would like things to be done. You can begin with framing questions in a positive way, examples include:

  • ‘I think that vase of flowers looks so pretty on the windowsill over there, shall I get you some more flowers from the market tomorrow?’
  • ‘Would you like to show me how you want me to make the beds and I can try to do it your way?’
  • You could also suggest looking at a cook book together and finding her favourite recipes, even suggesting you do it together but let her have control – make it fun, perhaps letting her see when things go a bit wrong might encourage her to relinquish some control and in turn ease anxiety. 

If you are looking for a role as a Carer, Companion please look on our jobs board or call our recruitment team on 020 38579945