Thinking about skills and qualities

First we will hear from various carers about the skills and qualities they have developed from their caring roles. Then it will be your turn to think about your own skills and qualities.

Dean

Listen to Dean talking about the skills he’s gained through his many caring roles.

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Dean
Em well I’m slowly learning to cook. [Laughs] That’s, that’s a start. Eh I’ve been learning to cook because my grandad’s not one for em fast food. Likes his homemade meal eh and I’ve been trying, and failing quite a lot, but I’m slowly learning. Em, which the missus also likes. But aye eh I’ve been doing that, I’ve been looking after the time, you know, ’cos it’s alright only looking after one person’s hospital appointments and doctor appointments, but I’ve got three to deal with. So juggling all of them, I’ve learned how to prioritise and organise and all that stuff and then em doing letters, so many letters. [Laughs] Having to do all these letters, eh loads and loads of letters that I’ve, I didnae ken how to fill in but I’m slowly learning er how to do it and banks and all, juggling my grandad’s bank and doing all the kind of, I’m doing his finances and all so, I’m learning bits and bobs. It’s coming, coming.
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Clair

Clair
Figure 3.2 Clair

Clair reflects on how caring and the need to see things from the point of view of the person she is caring for means she knows how to see things from other people’s perspectives.

You have to think of the other person all the time … so you do think of the way they see things. I think it’s important for everyone to see everyone’s point of view. That’s such a vital thing in life, because if you just think of your own point of view and your own self and everything, then you don’t get other people and you don’t understand what they’re doing. You understand why someone’s doing something if you look at it from their point of view.

This ability to see things from another’s perspective is sometimes called emotional intelligence.

Anna

Anna
Figure 3.3 Anna

Anna looked after her brother through his mental ill health before he had to accept professional help, while also caring for her own children and finding her way in a new country. She is proud of being able to cope. She lists the things she is proud of achieving:

Look after someone who’s sick. Look after other children. Organising the house. Myself when I was taking my course at The Open University. Studying. It’s not easy. I’m proud of myself because I can say I’m well organised.

Janet

Janet
Figure 3.4 Janet (Library image)

Janet reflects on how having to be organised and manage her time well means she is more focused. She also understands the value of patience.

I get stuff done a wee bit more quicker now … you’ve got to be more focused because if you spend too much time saying ‘I need to get such and such done’, it will never get done. So if you focus on something, then you’ll get the task done a lot quicker.

Patience. You’ve got to have patience. And you’ve got to be more laid back. Because I think if you’re not laid back, even just a wee bit, if you’re too much in a rush then everything is just wheeesht! If you’re trying to rush that other person to do something and they start shouting and bawling, then that’s it. Everything’s all gone.

Jade

Jade
Figure 3.5 Jade

Jade draws confidence from reflecting on the initiative she displayed in taking steps to gain volunteering experience.

Just thinking about it today, I’ve kinda amazed myself … I’ve not really thought about it properly until now, I’ve kinda shocked myself, just, well I have actually achieved something.

Lesley

Listen again to Lesley talking through the skills she gained through caring, and thinking about how the reflection process helped her to recognise them.

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Lesley
I wouldn’t have thought about it at the time, but when I did the Reflections Toolkit, I thought about time management, because you’re juggling so many things, hospital appointments, going up and down to the school, looking after other children in the house. Um budgeting, because obviously I lost an income. Um dealing with all the things that you have to deal with, benefits and so on. Communicating with lots of different professionals; education, health, social work. Um, just basically managing stress. Maybe you don’t feel like you are, but obviously somehow you get, you get through it, and develop coping strategies. You don’t feel that at the time but I think you get quite resilient from years of doing that.
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Katrina

Now listen to Katrina reflecting on the skills she feels she’s learned through caring for her son. She talks about learning to be patient, how to negotiate and pursuing a goal.

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Katrina
I think that my experiences looking after my son have changed me into a different person to the person that I was before. I think that having children changes you – changes everybody, but having a child that has a lot, a high dependency changes you a lot. So the things that, I’m a much more tolerant person than I used to be. I have much more understanding, er patience, staying calm, I’m the queen of not rising to – whatever. [Laughs] I’ve found that my experiences having to deal with social work department have taught me a lot, [Laughs], about em, in my work I have learned to realise that things don’t happen when you want them to happen. And there’s no point in phoning people constantly and complaining about this, that and the next thing, because people work in their own time and you just have to learn to be patient. And you can, you can find a nice way of maybe keeping your, keeping your needs alive in someone else’s mind, but it gets you nowhere to get angry and frustrated and upset about the way that government departments treat you. That gets you nowhere. [Laughs]
I think that you learn to let things go, and you have to learn which battles are worth fighting and you have to fight them with all your might, but you have to let a lot of things just go. Because you’re not going to get anywhere with them.
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There are a lot of skills and qualities being talked about here. This table provides some examples for you.

Table 3.1 Carers' typical skills and qualities

SkillsQualities
Time managementPatience
Prioritisation
Multi-taskingResilience
Organisational
Communication, critical thinkingEmotional intelligence

Do you recognise any of these skills and qualities in yourself?

What do you think about the skills and qualities highlighted by carers and summarised in Table 3.1?

Have you thought about the personal qualities that you possess and how you might use these? What skills and qualities have you developed through your caring experiences? What other skills do you have?

The skills we saw listed for Lesley, Scott and Jade result from all their experiences gained through education, their work and their caring roles.