To live in accordance with your values as a carer, it’s firstly important to identify them. If we have a clear idea of our values, we can better abide by them and embody them in everything we do. If they remain vague, it is easy to allow our behaviour to drift from who we want to be.
Everyone’s values will be different, but some values that a carer may have include:
- Empathy. The value of empathy allows us to act selflessly, in line with the wants and the needs of the people we are caring with. It is fundamental to being able to understand the complexities of a situation on an emotional level. It is also highly valuable in ensuring effective communication.
- Flexibility. As a carer, no two days are the same. Some days may be relatively straightforward, others may be more demanding. Needs may change on a day to day basis. A quality carer will be able to adapt themselves, ensuring that they are not stuck in a routine that does not align with that of the person they are caring for.
- Aspirational. Everyone has their dreams and as a carer it is important to keep sight of that. We need to strive to understand the goals of the people we care for, and support them to achieve these goals in a respectful manner. By providing the necessary support, we can help people to achieve their vision – which could be independence, cooking a meal, maintaining a garden, to name a few possibilities.
While values are highly important, carers need to ensure that they stay in touch with reality and in particular, their own limitations. No one is perfect, and while we can strive to embody the value of patience, we do have to recognise that we all have our own aspirations and goals too and are human beings after all.
If we overwork ourselves, or give too much, we can burn out, and end up providing care that does not align with our own values. This is not a good place to be and can result in feelings of guilt, not to mention its impact on those who you care for.
While it can be hard to ‘let go’, it can also be a highly valuable experience for the carer and the person in their care to enlist the support of community care services, such as in-home support, social groups, and supported accommodation facilities.
This can allow carers some time to attend to their own priorities. It can provide a platform for them to come back feeling refreshed, and prepared to provide the best possible care.
For the elderly person or person living with disability who is supported by the community care services, new opportunities can suddenly appear that were previously off limits.
Friends, activities, and independence can all blossom through tailored community care services. This may also allow the cared-for person to feel more guilt-free, knowing that they are allowing you more time to attend to your own life.
So far, we have talked about carers living by their values. We should also note that, with the appropriate support, those needing care are also able to better live in line with their values – including independence, belonging, and a sense of achievement.
For more information on available community care services, browse the St John’s Community Care website.