April 25th, 2018 | BY: Allegra Chaney

Caregiver Personality v Client Personality: Working Together

Dear Allegra:

I am currently in the process of earning a degree in nursing. My goal after graduation is to work in the home health field or potentially in hospice. I love the idea of helping older adults and people with disabilities in their own home.

As part of my clinical training, I’ve been observing in-home caregivers ranging from those who provide companion care to physical therapists and hospice staff. One thing I’ve noticed is how quickly they all adapt to different clients’ personalities. I am sure I will develop that skill with experience, but I am wondering if you have any suggestions for me while I am still learning.

Any advice would be much appreciated!



Caregiver Tips: How to Work with Different Personalities

Dear Stephen:

Good observation! Finding ways to work with different personalities will be important as you embark on your nursing career. What I am sure you will learn is that the stress and physical pain caused by an illness can make even the most mild-mannered person a little temperamental.

Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Know your own strengths and weaknesses: Taking a self-inventory can be difficult to objectively accomplish. But it is important to try. Do you react differently under different circumstances? Most of us do. Knowing your own personal triggers (e.g., stress, aggression, fatigue) can help you learn how to remain calm and cool during tough situations.
  • Develop empathy: Some people are naturally more empathetic and nurturing than others. Both are important traits for caregivers to continue to develop. When you are able to try to see a difficult situation from another person’s point of view, it can help you better understand how to talk and work with them.
  • Get to know care recipients: Take time to get to know each of your clients and patients, including understanding how they ended up in their current situation. Doing so will give you better insight in to how they are feeling and the emotions they might be struggling to process. For example, a very independent senior who suddenly experienced a paralyzing stroke might be angry, fearful, and sad all at once. Caring for them will likely require a different approach from what you would use with an older adult who is recovering from a bout of pneumonia.
  • Master effective communication skills: As a caregiver, you will need to learn how to talk so people will listen. Whether it is learning how to sandwich bad news between good news or using a gentle tone to convince a patient to take their medication, effective communication skills will be important.
  • Learn more about personality types: Many employers use Myers-Briggs personality assessments as a routine part of their screening and hiring process. This program is based on 16 different personality types. Getting to know the common personality types as well as your own can help you learn how to interact with people who have a different personality than yours.

Thanks for your question, Stephen. Good luck finishing your degree!

Kind regards,