To give care is to provide what an individual needs in order to be safe and well. In terms of this skill, Caregiving means meeting needs and providing comfort. This is not medical care (that is covered in Medicine and Surgery), but this is the skill used in a variety of situations. Parents looking after a newborn or child, a family member caring for a sick relative or a teacher looking after a pupil are all examples of Caregiving. Other examples are the nurse who sits with a patient, the doctor with a good bedside manner, the priest who comforts someone or anyone who provides care and compassion to another.
What is Involved in Caregiving?
In many ways, Caregiving is a combination of other skills, driven by intent. An example could be in the preparation of a meal. To cook a meal for someone is undoubtedly demonstration of the cooking skill, but when it is prepared with the aim of providing a hearty and tasty experience to another to meet their needs, then it moves into the realm of Caregiving. The parent who ensures that their child(ren) get sufficient vegetables and do not eat too much sugar or other sweet things, is demonstrating Caregiving as is the individual who makes a meal specifically for the elderly man to tempt him to eat and gain nourishment.
Equally, sitting and having a conversation with someone might meet your own need, or be an example of socialization. However, sitting and listening to someone who is lonely or isolated, offering advice and / or support to someone in a new situation or comforting the bereaved are very much Caregiving.
Types of Caregiving:
There are two main types of Caregiving.
This is reacting to a situation and providing comfort or meeting needs which have arisen from that situation. Examples of this include comforting the bereaved, calming and reassuring someone who is ill, etc. In this type of Caregiving, needs tend to be emotional, but could also be providing food to the hungry, for example.
This is the part of the skill used by parents or those caring for the elderly, for example. This is the art of looking after someone and providing for them. This type of care is usually planned, consistent and long term. This type of Caregiving often focuses on meeting all needs, where appropriate.
Types of Recipient:
Those who receive Caregiving (the recipients) are in some ways vulnerable or have a need which they can not currently meet for themselves. Examples of recipients include (but are not limited to):
: From newborns needing active round-the-clock care in order to survive, to the young teen who still requires adult supervision, children are prime examples of those who receive care.
: Old age often brings with it disabilities, vulnerabilities and a general 'slowing down'. As someone progresses in age, they might well need extra help with tasks for daily living.
People with Disabilities
: There are two types of disability, physical and learning, with some individuals experiencing both. Fundamentally, having a disability leads to the individual having additional needs; often these needs are met by someone providing care.
People with Illness
: Whether short-term or long-term, someone who is ill is likely to need care. This is in addition to meeting medical needs.
Pregnancy & Birth
: During pregnancy a woman might experience a range of physical symptoms which make daily functioning more difficult. Birth is also a time when support over and above the medical needs is required or appreciated.
People Experiencing Acute Psychological Trauma
: Shock, bereavement and sudden bad news are examples of acute psychological trauma. When an individual is experiencing this, they may well need additional support in order to function.
: Mental health issues such as: anxiety, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. People who are experiencing these disorders will require support functioning and may, depending on the severity, need residential care or someone living with them.
Types of Need:
: Physical needs are those needs we have in order to survive. Food and warmth, for example, are very basic physical needs.
:Psychological needs include the need to feel a sense of self worth, to feel loved and accepted, to be psychologically able to deal with trial-by-trial life and so on.
: The need for somewhere to live which the character considers physically and psychologically 'safe'. It must be noted that this might be very different from one character to another, but is still a basic need.
: Children need nurturing to develop and learn, as do adults. Development needs are those which we have to help us move on in our personal learning and development.
A Note on Basic and Complex Needs
Each type of need above has basic and complex needs within them. So, a child might have the need to learn to walk. That can be accomplished without fuss or bother, but the parent who makes the child feel good about themselves, gives them a sense of accomplishment and entrenches the idea that they are proud of the child meets more advanced, complex psychological needs for acceptance. Therefore, basic needs are the ones immediately in front of the Caregiver, with complex needs being much more long term, psychological and often hidden.
Cultural / Racial Nuances:
Different areas of Idalos each have their own social norms and cultural mores surrounding care which impact on this skill. For example, on Scalvoris pregnant women are expected to rest from the early stages of their pregnancy and, should a woman be seen to be doing what is considered as overexerting herself, social pressure will be applied on her to rest. Therefore, the care needed by a pregnant woman is perceived very differently in Scalvoris than in Rharne, for example, where women have been known to work right up until just before they give birth. Whilst the woman's physical needs remain unchanged, the expectations of the society around her might well mean that she has different emotional or psychological needs as her pregnancy progresses.
Individual races will also have customs or specific situations which will be benefited by specific use of the Caregiving skill. Examples of such include:
- As an Avriel learns to fly, walk and talk they are very human-like. However, those who are teaching them these skills do so knowing that soon, once they begin adolescence, they will become much more chaotic and aggressive. Parents of young Avriel must be aware of this and prepare their offspring, as best they can, for the inevitable time when they are sent out alone to survive.
- The Naerrik,too, are likely to see the role of the caregiver in childhood as very different from most others. Needing to teach and learn about the shadow form and tattoo giving might impact the individual needing care, but the instilling of the Naerrik attitude means that the daughters of Augiery are treated differently from birth than, for example, your average Sev'ryn child.
Whilst these sorts of differences are not important for the meeting of basic physical needs such as hunger, they are vital to meet the more complex psychological needs. Fundamentally, to provide excellent care, one must understand the individual and we are all shaped by the society in which we live.
Skills related to Caregiving include:
: The ability to treat minor illnesses and so on can provide more holistic care, treating both the illness, for example, and the psychological needs.
: Where an individual is dealing with someone who is experiencing a psychological need, a knowledge of psychology will help with both comforting the individual and working with them to overcome the issue at hand.
: When dealing with a developmental need, the ability to teach is a very genuine advantage, allowing the character to use techniques and tips at their disposal from their teaching skill.
: Providing food is meeting a physical need and the better one can cook, the more likely they are to produce food which is tempting to eat.
: Providing long term care can be physically exhausting, especially if the recipient requires round-the-clock care. Endurance can be a great bonus.
: Specifically if caring for an adult who requires lifting the provision of physical assistance. Strength can be a real asset to the long-term or professional Caregiver.
: Individuals with additional needs can find the situation they are in frustrating, as can the carer. Sometimes, utilising the skill of Discipline allows the caregiver to maintain a calm and professional approach.
: Knowing what is expected, in terms of societal norms and individual roles allows the individual giving care to meet the needs of their client more effectively and helps put people at their ease.
The novice at this skill is undoubtedly doing their best, but they are not proficient in providing care and, often, their attempts to do so will be more about themselves than the person in need of the care. Only very basic care can be provided at this level. The recipient is usually left feeling that anything beyond their most basic needs has not been met or has been met only in a surface manner. A novice Caregiver might be good in a short-term crisis, but is not yet able to effectively plan proactive care.
At competent, the character can provide both reactive and proactive care to a good standard. The recipient of this care will have their basic needs met, but more complex needs may not yet be being considered in all cases. This character is able to provide competent care, but when faced with complex cases, the recipient might still have only their immediate needs met and may be left feeling,vulnerable, afraid or lonely. In more usual cases, the competent caregiver is more than able to provide a good standard of care.
The expert Caregiver is able to meet both basic and complex needs and meets them both proactively and reactively. The recipient of this Caregiving feels very cared for, their needs seeming to be paramount to the one providing the care. The character is able to provide very good care and the recipient will feel like they were very focused on.
At mastery, the Caregiver is able to meet needs that the recipient simply did not know they had and they do so with ease and efficiency. They manage to say and do just the right thing at just the right moment in order to make the recipient feel absolutely cared for. The master at Caregiving is someone who can plan excellent care, meet immediate and long-term needs, has a deep understanding of both basic and complex needs and can work both proactively and or reactively.