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6 Traits of Emotionally Intelligent Personal Care Aides

By Jeff Salter

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLR), the need for skilled personal care professionals is expected to grow substantially over the next several years. In fact, personal care jobs are expected to grow 17% between 2018 and 2028. This would result in about 1.2 million new jobs for caregivers! This growth is due to the increase in the senior population during the coming decade. However, to take advantage of this opportunity, it’s important to consider the traits that can make you successful in this field. In this post, we will explore 6 of the most important traits of personal care professionals.

What Is a Personal Care Aide?

Personal care aides (sometimes referred to as caregivers or companions) perform a variety of functions to help people, such as seniors, with everyday living tasks. Personal care aides are distinct from home health aides because they don't provide direct medical services or assistance. Their primary function is to provide assistance to allow seniors to live independent lives and maintain their dignity.

Personal care aides can:

  • Help individuals with symptoms of Alzheimer's disease manage their symptoms, such as memory loss
  • Assist with daily hygiene, helping their clients bathe themselves, use the toilet and brush their teeth
  • Offer companionship and friendship in various ways, such as playing cards or taking walks together
  • Do housekeeping or help with cleaning dishes and clothes
  • Assist clients with mobility needs (helping them get into or out of a wheelchair, providing support if they use a walker, etc.)
  • Plan and prepare meals Help clients plan and schedule daily tasks like going to the store or doctor visits
  • Assist with transportation needs (especially for clients who don't have access to a car for doctor and hospital visits)
  • Shop for groceries and other needed items

What Does It Take To Be a Personal Care Aide?

While some of those tasks might seem simple, caregiving can be a very demanding job. Not everyone is equipped to provide personal care. Although there aren’t formal educational requirements for this career, there are personal and psychological characteristics that are critical to providing the compassionate care seniors and others require.

Above all, personal care aides need a high degree of emotional intelligence. While IQ refers to the scope of your cognitive functioning, emotional intelligence has more to do with someone's ability to manage his or her emotions. Someone with high emotional intelligence can identify and empathize with the emotions of others, making them great candidates for home care professionals.

Here are 6 traits of emotional intelligence that are crucial to your success as a personal care aide.

1. Empathy

Empathy is the ability to feel what someone else is feeling. For example, if someone is in physical or psychological pain, an empathetic person shares that pain and can identify with it. People who need a personal care aide are typically vulnerable and sometimes feel frightened or confused. Emotionally intelligent personal care aides are better able to effectively respond to pain that their clients are feeling because, to some extent, they feel it themselves.

2. Compassion

Compassion and empathy are closely related emotions. Empathy focuses on experiencing the same emotions as another person, while compassion tends to be more proactive. Compassionate personal care aides motivate the individuals around them. For example, a caregiver with both empathy and compassion will feel badly for the senior struggling and move quickly to the stairs to help.

3. Patience

Being patient is critically important to effective personal care. People who need personal care typically have difficulty doing daily tasks. A patient personal care aide understands that seniors might need a little extra assistance to complete tasks on their own. Their level of emotional intelligence allows them to support seniors in their independence instead of getting impatient and just taking over tasks.

4. Reliability

It doesn't help a client if they need help with a particular task at 2:00 p.m. and their personal care aide doesn't show up until 4:00. Reliability becomes a big deal if a senior needs transportation to a set appointment or if they need a medication reminder at a specific time. Emotionally intelligent personal care aides need to display a high degree of reliability because the services they provide are so important.

5. Fortitude & Courage

Some of the services personal care aides provide may be difficult for others to deal with. For example, it may be hard to help bathe a senior or help clean someone up after they’ve experienced a bout of incontinence. These tasks require physical and mental strength. The best personal care aides have the degree of fortitude and personal courage to perform their duties in the best possible way for the client.

6. Common Sense

This quality might seem like a given, but common sense is critical to the effective performance of personal care responsibilities. Think about it: there are individuals who are extremely intelligent but who lack common sense. A personal care aide must be able to navigate uncertainty and delicate situations, which requires a great deal of common sense. Personal care aides with emotional intelligence should have the smarts and the sense to perform their duties.

Working as a personal care aide is not a job for the faint of heart; it can be both difficult and challenging. This job requires emotional intelligence, which is an effective combination of courage, compassion, patience, reliability, and common sense to do effectively.

If these traits already describe you, then we want you to join our team! To learn more about our superior caregiving services and how we can be there when families can't, contact us today.

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