The qualities of empathy and sympathy look similar, but it is important for home caregivers to understand the difference. Sympathy can be appropriate in some situations, but within the dynamic between a caregiver and client it is empathy that establishes the healthiest solutions. According to Dr. Brené Brown, sympathy can create an uneven power dynamic. Well-meaning words can cause harm if the context of the situation and the uniqueness of the individual are not taken into consideration.
Empathy works a bit differently and is a skill that creates connection and can bring people together. Empathy involves perspective taking, listening while not judging, relating to the other person’s emotions, and communicating that you understand the other person’s emotions.
3 Ways to Build Empathy as a Home Caregiver
Due to the vulnerability of caring for another person, it is imperative that home caregivers learn how to be empathetic. This is one of the reasons home caregivers at Alegre Home Caregiver receive extensive training that focuses on building empathy and compassion, especially for people who have extra vulnerable situations such as LGBT seniors and seniors who have dementia.
Here are three ways to build empathy as a home caregiver:
1. Take a pause. We often get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, but this can cause us to overlook important details and not listen to the best of our abilities. When faced with a challenging caregiving task, take a pause to reflect before making a decision. A good way to build a habit of behavior is to take five deep breaths before reacting. This is a grounding exercise and will create space for clear thinking.
2. Switch your perspective. It is challenging sometimes to put ourselves in other people’s shoes but this is a requirement for providing quality home care services. Always try to see things from the client’s point of view even if it is very different from your own, so that you are better able to understand each circumstance. There may be things that you would have never thought of based on your own life experiences. Home caregivers can always turn to their home care agencies for advice and can ask questions to get a fuller picture of each client’s history when needed.
3. Listen and comprehend. Listening lays a good foundation for empathy, but to really be supportive we also need comprehension. If caregivers listen to someone but do not understand what is being communicated, then it will be difficult to take the best course of action. Asking questions, doing research, and checking in with the home care agency are all ways to gain clarity if caregivers do not understand something their clients are communicating.
Providing Quality Home Care Services
Building empathy is just one way to provide quality home care services. The home caregivers at Alegre Home Care also receive background checks, are paired with clients who are the best fit, and receive specialized, continual training in many areas, such as dementia care.
If you have questions about our home care services, please reach out and contact us at one of our Northern California locations.