The Pattern of Caregiver Development

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In the quest to provide care for a loved one, caregivers traverse through protracted, uncertain territory. Most caregivers are not innately endowed with the ability to deliver tasks of care, but they typically grow into an emerging caregiver role. A loved one’s evolving health conditions prompt caregivers to formulate responses which are appropriate for their ever-changing circumstances. As caregivers adjust to changes, they (often unconsciously) develop an improved capacity to serve their loved one.

Accordingly, I have observed that there is a pattern of caregiver development which can be marked by recurring states of 1) being, 2) connecting, 3) trying, 4) adjusting, and 5) committing.

caregiver development cycle

The recurring states in the pattern of caregiver development can be described as follows:

  • BEING, encompassing the traits as well as the presence of the caregiver.
  • CONNECTING, which reflects the interpersonal relations between caregiver and care receiver.
  • TRYING, which references the caregiver’s effort to deliver care to a loved one.
  • ADJUSTING, a process of making adaptations to caregiver efforts after learning what works and what does not work in the delivery of care.
  • COMMITTING, a pledge to repeat the cycle again and again, as long as a loved one needs care.

Underlying the pattern of caregiver development is an implicit set of values that shapes the caregiver’s ongoing involvement in care. Specific values tend to align with discrete states in the pattern of caregiver development. Examples are identified below.

A caregiver’s BEING starts with the foundational values of:

  • Presence;
  • Awareness;
  • Mindfulness;
  • Patience.

A caregiver’s CONNECTING is rooted in the values of:

  • Relationships;
  • Trust;
  • Communication;
  • Care.

A caregiver’s TRYING is the application of values such as:

  • Action;
  • Work;
  • Service;
  • Faith.

A caregiver’s ADJUSTING is a reflection of these values:

  • Learning;
  • Wisdom;
  • Growth;
  • Change.

A caregiver’s COMMITTING centers on resolutions stemming from the values of:

  • Love;
  • Duty;
  • Compassion;
  • Determination.

This is not an all-inclusive list of values underlying the pattern of caregiver development, but it is a sampling of core values that correspond with each state within the pattern. Further, some of the values listed above could be traceable to more than one state within the caregiver development pattern—for instance, love is applicable to both connecting and committing.

The point is that the recurring, value-laden pattern of care, marked by states of being-connecting-trying-adjusting-committing, will enable a caregiver to grow and develop into the role.

I must also add that since caregivers exhibit the above values in action, a caregiver’s development naturally extends beyond role-taking. Caregiving does something for the soul because it requires one to summon and develop an array of the noblest human virtues. For this reason, caregiving engenders the development of better human beings.

If you’d like to invite Dr. Blight to speak to your group about the pattern of caregiver development, please contact us.

Posted in Caregiving, Family Caregiving, Organizational CaregivingTagged