The role of family and frontline caregivers has become increasingly important in meeting the needs of the growing aging population. In fact, many family and frontline caregivers are stretched thin as they work in the healthcare field as a nursing assistant, home care aide, personal assistant, or volunteer while also caring for a family member or close friend. Caregivers who are doing double duty are at an increased risk for negative physical and emotional health outcomes, and many find that they are burned out.
Why is this important? There will be significantly fewer caregivers (both family and frontline) from which to draw upon. In fact, recruitment and retention of quality frontline caregivers is a global issue that mirrors the issue of the burgeoning aging population both in complexity and importance. No longer can the unmet needs of this very important population be overlooked as they are the linchpin of the long-term care system.
The There is Honor in Asking for Help® campaignís mission is to advocate and support frontline caregivers who are caring for a loved one and/or client to remain employed and productive in the workplace. Our specific focus is on Linchpin caregivers who are doing double duty (i.e., working in the healthcare field as a nursing assistant, home care aide, personal assistants, and volunteers and who also care for a family member).
Who are Linchpin Caregivers?
Amber Snyder is a Linchpin Caregiver (a caregiver who is doing double duty i.e., working in the healthcare field as a nursing assistant, home care aide, personal assistant, or volunteer, while who also caring for a family member or friend). Amber works full-time as a nursing assistant in long-term care while also caring for her grandparents. She chatted with us recently about her decision to become a nursing assistant, the importance of self-care, the need for continued training opportunities, and other aspects of her rewarding role as a linchpin caregiver.
What lead to your decision to become a Nursing Assistant?
Ten years ago, my great grandma was in a nursing home. I would go see her every day and help her with needs, especially when the caregivers where busy. When visiting if my great-grandmother needed assistance with eating, toileting, transferring, or getting ready for bed I would step in and help her. I also remember taking her outside and supporting her emotionally when she needed to talk. As soon as she passed away I knew I wanted to be a nursing assistant. Caring for my great grandma was the catalyst for me entering the field of nursing. I love being a caregiver!
What is the best thing about your role as a caregiver?
Being there when my clients have no one else and seeing the smile on the faces of those I care for is heartwarming. Knowing that I helped someone who may not have been able to meet their needs without my assistance also gives me great satisfaction. I am inspired to give my all because I am giving those I care for love from my heart.
What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
The most challenging aspect is when someone I care for dies. I become close to each of my clients. They become a part of my family. Taking care of a client for so long and being there when he or she goes to heaven is the hardest part my job.
What are the most rewarding aspects of your caregiving?
Taking care of my grandparents was a blessing. I learned a lot from caring for my grandparents. I did nearly everything for my grandmother and grandfather including: visiting them daily, taking care of their personal needs like showers, played games, worked in their garden, washed their clothes, and provided emotional and social support.
Is there any advice you would like to share with other caregivers?
Being a caregiver must come from the heart! The work you do isnít a job, it is a calling. You are taking care of people who depend on your help. I always keep in mind that it is important to treat these people like you would like to be treated: what if this was your home, what if this was you, how would you want to be treated? Respect, love, dignity, loyalty are my guiding principles as a caregiver.
What do you do to practice self-care?
Sleeping, eating good, making sure I have time to be by myself, cooking, reading, spending time with my son, going to see a movie, going bowling, or out to eat are things that make me happy.
What improvements would you like to see in your role as a caregiver in long-term care?
More help! We need adequate numbers of caring loving people, so that caregivers can take their time and care for each client.
Improved benefits like Paid Time Off so that caregivers can take time for self-care from time to time.
More pay would also be nice. We do a lot for our clients we care for, and thought itís not about money, however, if we were paid a little more I think caregivers would stay at their job.
A free meal would display appreciation. It would make the long nights better for caregivers knowing that the employers care about employees.
More training! Classes or events to help caregivers develop new skills would also be wonderful for retaining caregivers.
4 Ways you can Support the There's Honor in Asking for Help® Caregiver Wellness Campaign
Caregiver Support Services recognizes the need to empower family and frontline caregivers to advocate for a supportive workplace where retention of quality caregivers is the focus and where there is an environment that fosters the achievement optimum wellness. The "There is Honor in Asking for Help"® Caregiver Wellness Campaign is designed to increase awareness of the importance and absolute honor in asking for help to ease possible burden among family and frontline caregivers.
As an employer you have an opportunity to redefine the way you support your employees by doing the following:
Support for Grieving Caregivers.
Grief is often overlooked as a contributing factor to caregivers leaving their jobs when the truth is that grief can significantly influence turnover.
Help us disrupt caregiving
Together, we can change the healthcare system so that family and frontline caregivers are empowered and feel valued!
Utilize "Ask Emma" Wellness Tool
Encourage your caregivers to access the "Ask Emma" tool which will help your employee determine his or her level of wellness as a caring individual.
Partner with CSS for Caregiver Training
Caregiver Support Services can deploy and administer a myriad of custom designed training solutions, helping your agency increase efficiency.