How Best to Honor Long-Term Care Workers for National Caregivers Day

How Best to Honor Long-Term Care Workers for National Caregivers Day

You may not know that the third Friday in February is National Caregivers Day, but if you rely on someone for personal care and/or physical and emotional support—or if you are the person who provides that care—put this holiday on your annual calendar in permanent ink. 

In 2024, National Caregivers Day falls on Friday, February 16. This is our opportunity to recognize all those caregivers who go the extra mile in providing the essentials and necessities, from medical aid to personal grooming. At Consumer Directed Choices, we think the special kindness and patience of caregivers should be celebrated year-round—but National Caregivers Day is our opportunity to highlight their commitment, which often includes going above and beyond their duties to ensure the well-being of those in their care. On February 16, let’s all honor long-term care workers by being there for them just as they are there for our loved ones.

Our Unsung Heroes

Not many people have the luxury of dropping everything to help those in need. More often than not, caregivers are friends or family members of those requiring assistance who are facing their own challenges while they tirelessly devote themselves to ensuring the well-being of their loved ones. While these challenges can run the gamut, in many cases, caregivers are also elderly themselves and must navigate the complexities of their own aging at the same time. 

Despite all that, they must juggle caregiving responsibilities that can encompass a dizzying array of tasks. According to a report by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, caregivers spend:

  • Six days in a month grooming, feeding, dressing, bathing, and walking
  • 13 days a month commuting, cleaning, doing laundry, monitoring medication, shopping, and cooking special meals for their patient 
  • 13 hours a month coordinating visits with physicians, researching symptoms and diseases, and managing finances.

Even with all of this, long-term care workers are often underappreciated and undervalued, receiving inadequate compensation or no payment at all for their services. 

But for those receiving long-term care, the presence of a dedicated caregiver can make all the difference in maintaining a sense of dignity, independence, and quality of life. Caregivers not only attend to practical needs but also cultivate meaningful connections with their care recipients, fostering a sense of belonging and purpose. Their unwavering dedication and empathy create a supportive environment where people feel valued, respected, and understood

The Importance of a Positive Care Environment

It’s no secret that positive environments have a transformative effect on people, fostering feelings of well-being, motivation, and personal growth. Within the caregiving space, it’s no different. Creating a positive care environment is essential for promoting mutual respect, trust, and collaboration between caregivers and care recipients. This begins with open communication. By clearly stating your needs, preferences, and concerns, you can ensure that caregivers have a clear understanding of how best to support you. When each person feels a sense of ownership and empowerment, you can achieve more personalized and effective care outcomes.

Through it all, don’t forget that caregivers are people, too. Their job is physically and emotionally demanding, which can often cause stress or burnout. (For more on this, please see our recent article on maximizing respite care). By offering empathy and understanding, you honor long-term care workers by helping them feel valued and supported. A little bit goes a really long way toward making your care environment a positive one.

Meaningful Ways for Care Recipients to Express Gratitude

Now you may be thinking, “Okay, how can I express my appreciation for all my caregiver does?” Well, that’s easier than you might think. The simplest way is to tell them how much you appreciate what they do. A heartfelt “thank you” takes mere seconds but can make a significant impact, affirming their efforts and fostering a deeper sense of connection between the two of you. Or, if you’d prefer to put your thoughts into writing, a handwritten note expressing your appreciation can be a touching reminder of the positive impact they have had on your life. (And if you are on social media, give your caregiver a shout-out there, too!)

Additionally, if you use a caregiving agency such as Consumer Directed Choices, by all means, share some positive feedback. This allows the agency to also honor your long-term care worker for their exemplary service.

And last but not least, if you really want to go the extra mile—and give your caregiver the chance to be publicly recognized—consider nominating them for the Constance Laymon Personal Assistant Recognition Award. The ceremony annually recognizes and honors 25 highly deserving caregivers for the daily difference they make in the lives of others. Nominations begin in August and you can apply here once they are open.

Become a Caregiver Advocate

We can all use our voices! Encourage the people around you—friends and family members—to speak up for fair wages, benefits, and working conditions. Companies like Consumer Directed Choices are leading the charge with best-in-class pay and benefits, but sadly, not all agencies meet these high standards. By raising awareness of the challenges faced by caregivers and advocating for policies that prioritize their well-being, we can help create a more equitable and supportive environment for all caregivers and by extension for those in their care.

As you can imagine, mental health support services and wellness programs are also crucial for addressing the stressors and challenges caregivers face—so advocating for those programs is another great way for you to help. When caregivers have access to resources such as counseling and support groups, they are better able to cope with stress, prevent burnout, and maintain their overall well-being.

As advocates for caregivers, it’s essential to amplify their voices, advocate for their needs, and work towards creating systemic change that recognizes and values their contributions. 

Together, We Celebrate.

Ultimately, the impact of caregivers’ support and compassion echoes far beyond the day-to-day caregiving tasks. It fosters a sense of compassion and interconnectedness, enriching the lives of both care recipients and their families with warmth, empathy, and unwavering support. As we celebrate National Caregivers Day, let’s all take a moment to recognize and honor long-term care workers for the profound impact their dedication and compassion have on the lives of those they serve.

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