Saturday, January 17, 2009

Continuing Care: Is It Right For You?

By Amy Nutt

Not everyone is cut out to pursue a career in continuing care. It requires a special temperament and personality to withstand the unique challenges and pressures that the caregiver will be subjected to. So how do you know if you have the right personality for the job, preferably before you start down this career path? This is an area where personality and ability are both extremely important.

Many medical professionals avoid this area because it requires a dedication that just doesn`t suit everyone. Looking after someone for a long period of time just isn`t the right way to go for everyone, so you`ll want to be sure that it`s the right path for you. There are a few characteristics that are common throughout the continuing care community. If you have these, then chances are, this is the right line of work for you.

Compassion: Without this, you`ll fail. It takes a compassionate heart to spend long hours caring for someone who is unable to look after themselves. If you have always enjoyed helping people and feeling useful, then this is a good indication that you`ll enjoy enrolling in a continuing care program.

Strength: Not just physical, though this is quite useful, as well, when you are lifting a full grown adult into the tub. However, mental strength is also necessary. You need to be able to deal with situations that may not be very comfortable, for you or the patient. It can be embarrassing for a teen boy to be helped onto the toilet, for example, and you`ll need to deal with thi

Patience: If you are an impatient person, chances are long term care isn`t a good place to work. This is a career that requires long hours of doing very little, simply being present in case your patient needs help. It can involve repetitive tasks, like checking heart rate and blood pressure, reading the same book over and over and hours doing tasks that would normally take a few minutes, like feeding a patient or helping someone get from one room to another. Patience is essential.

Friendliness: Continuing care involves long periods of time spent with the same patient. Unlike regular hospital care where you only see a patient for a few hours or days and never really get to know them, this career will leave you with more than enough time to get to know the people you work with. A callous attitude won`t work well, though many patients, particularly those in hospice care, will be resistant to you. A friendly attitude can go a long ways.

It can be mentally and physically exhausting working with people in long term care. You`ll be working with the elderly, the terminally ill and those who have been incapacitated in some way. It can take a toll on your personal life if you aren`t careful, so you also need to know when to take a break. You won`t be able to continue indefinitely and it`s important to be able to separate work from personal life.

Continuing care is not the ideal career for everyone. However, if you are compassionate, friendly and strong mentally and physically, with the ability to separate the life you lead on your off hours from your work, then it could be a good fit for you. The world needs people who are willing to participate in long term care, so this is an area that will always be open to more workers. It`s a good field to go into if you find that you have the right personality.

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