Preparing to Observe
A caregiver must be an excellent observer. The ability to observe closely during difficult circumstances is a high level skill of an exceptional caregiver. The reason observation skills are very important is because of the verbal and written reports that must be given by a caregiver to a recipient's care team. The care team consists of the recipient's family, doctors, clergy, educators, social workers, and emergency transport personnel.
It is important to practice observing people for two minutes and then making verbal or written reports about what you observed. If possible, try to use your five senses when you're observing people. Observations are not only about what you see or hear. You may also need to use your sense of smell, touch, or taste to perform a thorough observation. The senses you use during the observation depend on the circumstances at hand. It's possible that all five senses may have a significant role in illuminating the situation.
A good way to document what you observe is to quickly and discreetly make notes. The reason you should make notes is because you might forget pertinent details later.You can type the notes into your phone or jot the them down on paper. A third option for documenting what you observe is to softly speak into your phone's voice recorder. Whichever method you choose, it is important to document what you observe.
Your observations should focus on a patient's behavior, because documenting how your patient is behaving is important to your decision making.
Moving Your Practice Forward
If what you observe is behavior that will allow you to continue with your scheduled activities, then do so. If the behavior you observe is not supportive of continuing your scheduled activities then talk with your patient about what you're observing. You will need further clarification about how the patient is feeling, in order to make the right decision. Remember to document what you observe.
Observing for Readiness
Before you proceed with your activities of the day, make sure that you and your care recipient are ready to do them. Readiness is dependent upon three things, a positive attitude, able physical conditions, and prior preparation for the activities. An activity will become a successful strategy when you prepare ahead of time to do it and the person you care for wants to do the activity and has the ability to try and finish it. It is important for you to determine that all of these elements are in place before you start the activities. If the elements are not in place, then file the activity in your Activities Folder for another day.
How do you determine if your care patient is ready to do an activity? You can introduce the idea of the activity during a conversation. If your recipient is receptive to the idea and you are prepared to proceed, then you should do the activity immediately.
According to celebrated adult educator and philosopher Malcolm Knowles, it's better to proceed with the activity immediately because the person is ready to do it. In Adult Learning Theory (ALT), the two of you are collaborating to solve the problem of working together to get the activity done (Smith, 2002).
However, in caregiving you must have flexible start dates. You don't give up just because you may not be able to do the activity right away. If you cannot do the activity immediately, save it for later. Re-introduce the activity along with reminders that your recipient was receptive to the idea. In caregiving, we must develop the ability to go back, regroup, move forward and evaluate.