Did you know that November is the National Family Caregiver Month? I really didn’t have any slightest idea that the entire month of November is dedicated for caregivers until LLS (Leukemia and Lymphoma Society) forwarded an invitation regarding a symposium on related matters with medical practitioners of the Department of Social Work and the New York Hospital Queens (NYQH) attending the said event. The National Caregiver Month was primarily designed to honor the millions of caregivers throughout the globe, especially the women, who have persevered in their duties caring for sick loved ones, for people they don’t know from day one, who are either patients in hospitals, nursing homes or in private homes.
(note that photos shown herein are not for reproduction/public consumption, please)
While I join the call to honor the caregivers worldwide, regardless of the type of services whether it’s a pro-bono (esp. among family members) or with a hefty remuneration, this article is limited to focus on people who have sacrificed to leave their homes, migrated to other countries and joined the band wagon of “caregivers” working in developed countries either by choice or by chance. But there are some people who have no choice at all as they have only one thing in mind, to find a job no matter how hard it may seem, so as to earn a living and survive and be successful in the end. Success to some of them is equated to certain economic variables, specifically that they are able to send money back home for their children’s education related expenses, to support their day to day living expenses, to buy a house of their own, and luxuries in life, among other things. These are the people who have learned to love the job so as to earn a decent living for their family back home, even if at the back of their minds this is not the original profession they’ve studied and longed for.
Caregiving is not new to us. As a matter of fact, our mothers when we’re young and sick were our first “caregivers”, in the strictest sense of the word. Caregivers at present, however, act as the modern day staff nurses and medical assistants, so to speak, who worked hands-on in the field, in the homes of family patients, doing the nitty gritty of the job. Some if not majority, of the caregivers nowadays are professionals in other fields of interests, but have been trained and certified to do such jobs.
As narrated by caregivers, their work is not easy especially when taking care of a sick patient at home, much more if the latter is bigger in terms of height and weight, and could no longer attend to his/her personal needs. They have to literally carry or support the patient by themselves in moving or transferring from one place to another There are times that caregivers bear the burden of the sick patient as in physically, not to mention the psychological stress the job placed on them.
In the course of their duty, a caregiver-caregivee relationship is established, whereby both the patient and the caregiver would have to like each other to make the process go smoothly, otherwise, it won’t work. It can be compared to someone who is engaged in a white-collar job and would try to win the affection of his/her boss, creating a rapport between them to have a smooth and friendly working relationship.
A caregiver acquaintance once candidly shared with me her experience about the job. I understand she practically does everything, in lieu of the family members who are busy attending to their businesses and professional lives, as far as caring for the patient is concerned. She does all what is required of her by the supervising family members who visit their sick loved one from time to time. The “caring” process does not only involve attending to the personal needs of the patient (e.g. food preparation, giving medicines, running errands, strolling in parks, getting instructions from the doctor, etc.) but it turned out for her to be a personal commitment to make her patient feel better, in all aspects: emotionally, physically and spiritually. In the same manner, the family entrusted her their sick family member on an honor-system basis. They completely relied on her, as if she was part of the family.
As previously mentioned, caregivers have to have a lot of patience and perseverance, and the heart for it, otherwise, they might end up losing their jobs. There was one time the said caregiver was assigned to an elderly who used to be a high profile career lady in one of the multinational companies in NYC, and who was suffering from a dreadful disease. At first, there was animosity between them as the caregiver had this habit of doing her prayers thru singing while serving and comforting her. The lady patient would ask her to stop doing it which she obliged. But to her surprise, the patient requested her to sing the song which she said she liked it so much and made her feel well. The caregiver had goosebumps and was teary eyed when she heard it from her. She had a wonderful experience with her lady patient as the latter had learned to love what she was doing, despite of the differences in religious convictions. However, the good working relationship was cut short after several months as the lady patient expired. The caregiver thought her patient was happy and prepared to meet her Creator.
Caregiving is not just a job. Some say it’s one of the odd and dirty jobs. It may be quite true as at times it would require some “too personal care” related stuffs, although there’s nothing wrong with it, depending on one’s perspective. On the other hand and in reality, caregiving is a job that is fulfilling and gratifying just like what the earlier mentioned caregiver had experienced. She served as an instrument of God to make her patient prepare for her death while she was bedridden. It was a spiritual journey for both the caregiver and the patient. From the caregivers standpoint, this is primarily one of the wondrous things which lighten their physical and emotional burden kept inside when they make someone happy and feel better, even only for a while. Apart from the said psychological satisfaction, she was also able to send and complete her kids schooling, and continue to support their needs including her extended families, from her earnings as caregiver.
In view of the vital roles played by caregivers throughout the globe, I would like to echo any calls for Government and politicians to formulate policies and enact laws which would protect the health care of caregivers and their patients as well. As you may know, caregiving demands several hours of duty per day. In fact, some would stay in the patient’s home 24/7. As previously mentioned, caregivers’ work includes substantial emotional and physical strain and it is but prudent for them to be given such valuable recognition.
How about making “caregiving” a full pledge profession, just like other medical related field of studies such as Nursing? Some professionals who have decided to be caregivers actually go to a training center or a specialized vocational schools to study about caregiving basics or probably “caregiving 101”, if any, but it’s not enough. How about creating a new curriculum for a Bachelor’s Degree in Caregiving? How about that?
So, for all the caregivers worldwide, this is “myusefultips” way of greeting you a happy caregivers month, even tho the greeting’s late! Better late than never, right?