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The Professional Caregiver

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What do you think of when you hear the term “professional caregiver?” Do you immediately think of a doctor or a nurse? Words means things and when we as Americans hear words like “professional” it has a specific connotation to it. We instantly pull a mental image from our minds about what we ‘think’ a professional is. But, there is another part to that term; caregiver. What do you think of when you hear the term “caregiver?” Most, probably pull an image from their minds where one person is helping another in some way or another. Or, something similar to this.

Whatever mental image you extract from your mind, in deed, words do mean things. That is, we cannot refer to ourselves as a “professional caregiver” if we are not behaving in a professional manner, and performing our assigned duties on a professional level. So, what are we talking about when we want to more accurately define what a professional caregiver is?

In simple terms, a professional caregiver is one who performs his or her duties in a way that is consistent with common ethical standards. That is, the professional caregiver adheres to a specific standard of conduct, and demonstrates a demeanor that is conscientious, courteous, and businesslike. But, a definition is one thing; living out these ideals in real time is another matter altogether. We might even go as far to say that ‘talk is cheap’ if it is not backed up with action by the caregiver that substantiates their claims.

The fact is, what you say has no direct connection to anything unless what you say is followed up with those actions that have been verbalized. In other words, [do] what you say you are going to do. If you say you are ethical, let that be shown in your actions. When you say you care about your clients, residents or family member, then demonstrate that in your actions. The professional caregiver, in name, is intangible but the professional caregiver is tangible, as acted out in real time, all the time, every time.

Our point here is this. In order for words to mean something more than empty rhetoric they must be followed up by the tangible form; your actions. People every day, everywhere talk about what they are going to do, how they are going to behave, and how they are going to perform their job. But, when we don’t do what we say we will do, we are going to lose the trust of those who have placed their trust in us. Simple as that.

Being a professional caregiver is not a name, term, slogan or tagline. Being a professional caregiver means that you are performing one good action followed by another, and another, and another; each action working toward providing a better quality of life for those in your care, as well as affirming your own stake in that care. By setting the proper example for other caregivers to emulate you are promoting what a professional caregiver is, as it happens in front of us. This is tangible, measurable and concrete because we can observe it, copy it, and share it with other caregivers.

And, taken altogether, the intrinsic [value] that you provide as a professional caregiver can be far reaching if you are diligent and consistent with your words and actions. The American Caregiver Association challenges you to do just this. Little by little, ever so incrementally, we can continue to shape and define what is means to be a professional caregiver.

Get national caregiver certification here