What Makes a Great Caregiver?


What do you think is the single best predictor of an excellent caregiver?

You may immediately think of personality traits like kindness, empathy and compassion, or perhaps you are inclined towards interpersonal dynamics like reliability or trust. People often envision great caregivers as achieving the exceptional by virtue of a unique personality or remarkable relationship building skills.

In reality, the best predictor for excellence in caregiving is excellence in caregiving education. To be clear, the wonderfully kind, empathetic, reliable and trustworthy individual often does make a better caregiver. But caregivers displaying those traits in graceful balance are likely very educated and experienced in caregiving. Without first learning the experience of the senior and family, how can we achieve a depth of connection?

It’s through education that great caregivers learn what you and your loved one are experiencing. An exceptional caregiving education will teach true understanding of the client’s life experience, the impact on family, and the best practices in achieving rewarding outcomes through caregiving and connection.

For CaraVita, education is the critical underpinning in our approach to care. It guides our caregiving services, our community offerings, and our compass in service of those in need. It drives our empathy, it is the backbone of the trust afforded us, and it cements the respect of those we guide confidently against life’s challenges. At CaraVita, education is the foundation of quality care.

As the Director of Clinical Services for CaraVita Home Care, I build that foundation. We have programs in place for everyone: continuing education for our professional team, hands-on skill enhancement for existing caregivers, proxy care and dementia care training for advanced placement, a state-accredited school for Certified Nursing Assistant students, free training courses for family caregivers, and programs like the Virtual Dementia Tour® and Memory Screenings for the community at large.

Our approach is not normal. And that is great news!

CaraVita’s commitment to education for employees and the community is truly unique. In recent months, I’ve had several caregivers and family members reach out in excitement around our educational offerings.

For families, it is a free training ground to work with experts on becoming the very best provider you can for mom or dad. That is meaningful! CaraVita is not just a care scheduling service or a school for nurses. It is the community so many families have been looking for through the heartache of caring for a loved one in need. We don’t limit these training sessions to existing clients; anyone with a desire to learn how and why need only call to schedule a visit. Simply ask for family caregiving training, or come to one of our many community events like the Virtual Dementia Tour or Alive After Five. We are here for you with open arms.

For caregivers, our commitment to education means ongoing growth opportunities. So few health and wellness providers offer career advancement and ongoing training to their caregivers. Our perspective is that every employee should always be learning and improving through continuing education. Our onsite training staff at the Academy at CaraVita, and our team of care professionals conduct regular training opportunities in ways that help caregivers to truly become the best in their field. From proxy care to dementia training and more, we will always invest as much in our people as they will invest in themselves.

Process Creates Consistency.

Across all of the educational efforts I lead, one continued focus is on consistency. It’s my expectation that CaraVita caregivers provide consistent excellence in care. Which means that processes must be in place to ensure that the great care provided by Caregiver A is reflected exactly by the dutiful service of Caregiver B.

To achieve consistently great work, we start at the beginning. When a potential caregiver applies to join the CaraVita team, we select for further consideration only those candidates with exceptional work histories. To further ensure that we hire the best, we require on-site skills checks prior to any hiring decisions. We know how special our team of caregivers is, and it’s my duty to you that our selection processes extend beyond the standard. Once selected and trained in CaraVita’s unique methodologies, we supplement our caregiver’s capabilities through the continuing education programs mentioned before.

We also have a unique process for new client onboarding; within hours of initiating CaraVita, a team of experts will work together and with you to build a comprehensive care plan that yields true results. Because we believe that even a multidisciplinary panel of experts should have a second opinion, we send nurses to see the client within a few days of plan enactment. Nothing is more accurate than results – and we adjust our care planning with continued study to ensure that we give your family the loving support you need.

I’ve been a nurse since 1971, and can say with 43 years experience that one thing will be as true tomorrow as it is today: In caregiving, there is no substitute for a great education, and nothing more rewarding than putting it to use in the compassionate service of someone in need. Questions? Feel free to call me anytime.

Maryellen Harmon


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