Being a caregiver can be a rewarding experience, but what most don’t realize is the preparation that goes into that role – especially during the winter months. Northern states get hit heavily with inches of snow each year. Record breaking below freezing temps can make the commute to work even more difficult. But as a caregiver, it’s your duty to keep your commitment to your patient in-spite of season. Here are ways you can still make it to work on the worst of days.
#1 Stay Up to Date
With today’s technology, you can find out the weather in seconds. Most phones automatically come with a weather widget, but if not, download weather applications to your smart devices. The best way to plan for bad weather, begins with finding out when it’s coming.
If you drive to work and have survived multiple winters in your area, then you should be more than aware of how severe winter is. I strongly advise that you do the following before the cold weather hits:
- Get your car inspected
- Check/Change your tires
- Keep jumper cables in your car
- Also keep antifreeze on-hand
Check your forecast throughout the week to plan for upcoming storms and below freezing weather. Plan for the chilly temperatures. To avoid catching a cold or the flu and passing it on to the patient – bundle up. Wear a hat, scarf, winter coat, gloves and weather boots.
If there’s a possibility of a storm arriving after you’ve begun your shift, plan ahead. There have been several times when nurses or caregivers had to stay the night because of how severe the snow storm. Make sure you have flashlight handy, water and first aid kit available.
The reason why the majority of problems arise is due to issues in communication. As a caregiver, it’s vital to not only speak with the nursing agency that you’re working with, but stay in contact with your patient and their loved ones. If there is a chance that you’ll be running behind schedule for whatever reason, let your Coordinator know as well as your patient.
Communicating hours in advance with the client or the client’s loved ones can help in more ways than one. If your typical commute time is already a distance, a storm could possibly double or triple how long it will take you to arrive. Depending how bad the weather is, they may cancel your shift altogether. Learn your client by communicating often and discuss the possibility of storms. Come up with a contingency plan.
#3 Time Your Commute
If you’ve experienced winter storms, then you should know that leaving for work at your typical time is the last thing you want to do. You’ll have to factor in the possibility of following:
- Cleaning snow and/or ice off your car
- If you take public transportation, you may need to catch an earlier bus or train to arrive at your destination on time
- Slippery roads or the chance that roads may be blocked off
Do everything possible not to cancel. Unlike the typical 9am-5pm job, leaving your patient unattended for hours can be detrimental. Remember – reliability goes a long way. Once you’ve established trust with your patient, you’ll have nothing but good referrals – but please keep in mind that trust is built with consistency.
These three tips should help you this winter to continue to be the best caregiver possible. Be consistent and your efforts will not go unnoticed.