Most people are aware of IQ – it’s often the measure used to see how “smart” a person is. But in a society that places emphasis on being “smart” – is IQ what you need to be the best at your job? Especially if you’re in the career of caring?

Though there is absolutely an element of intelligence in every job, there is also something called EQ – also known as the emotional quotient – which acts as the other side of the coin to IQ.

What EQ is, is the ability to recognise your own emotions and those of others, to tell the difference between different feelings and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behaviour. People with high EQ are also able to manage and adjust emotions to adapt to environments.

What does EQ have to do with Care?

It could be suggested that emotional intelligence is more important to the “care” industry than IQ is.

Aged care is an emotionally demanding career, that requires aged care workers to not only care for older people – but to also understand and empathise with them.

It’s simply not enough to do the “basic” task of feeding, bathing and check-list other physical care needs. There is a real person at the other end receiving the care, a person with emotional needs.

For an older person in aged care, it is important to feel accepted and cared for emotionally – and that is often a responsibility of the carer responsible for them.

But what is the impact of emotional intelligence training on aged care health workers?

Emotional intelligence affects how aged care workers manage behaviour, deal with social complexities, and make personal decisions to achieve positive results.

For many older people, age related conditions and frailty can create challenges in communication. Some older people cannot speak, or they simply cannot verbalise what they want.

So for those who cannot speak, it can be difficult to seek help as they struggle with pain, hunger or movement. In these circumstances, it is on the carer to understand their needs; therefore relying on non-verbal cues and body language.

It’s clear to see that EQ  is important for effective practice in both person centred and dementia care.

People with high emotional intelligence are not only better equipped to care for others, but they themselves have better self-awareness, motivation, empathy and good social skills.

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Can Emotional Intelligence be Taught?

Are people born smart? Though some may suggest this, it’s not true. Hard work and studying can also lead to more intelligence.

And the same goes for emotional intelligence.

With a growing aged care sector, there will inevitably be an abundance of jobs available.

According to the Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt, the sector employs around 366,000 people, approximately 3 per cent of Australia’s total workforce.

The overall aged care staff numbers are forecasted to almost triple in the next 40 years. As aged care grows and evolves not only will there be more jobs, but new roles created to meet care demands.

Sarina Russo Institute offers the Diploma of Community Services which provides students with a pathway to various roles in the Community Services sector, not only equipping them with skills and knowledge, but confidence and competence too.

Overall, aged care workers, with the right emotional training, are enabled to feel more empowered; thus leading to more teamwork, organisational communication, and job satisfaction.

With more “emotional” training, students and future aged care workers have the ability to positively influence those around them, as well as improving the quality of care offered.

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