A caregiver refers to a person who assists the elderly by doing a number of tasks. A caregiver will usually visit the home of a senior, but also may work out of a nursing care facility as part of the staff.
Caregiver Job Responsibilities
A caregiver is usually responsible for attending to the specific needs of an elderly person, but a caregiver may also attend to the needs of an infant or a disabled person. Caregivers serve a key role in the health care industry. Caregivers ensure that those under their care are clean, fed and safe. The responsibilities of caregiver can be diverse and encompass many aspects of care. Caregivers will generally work in a patient’s home and help with a variety of tasks. Caregivers are responsible for assisting infants, seniors or the disabled with receiving a proper diet and meals along with preparation of meals and in some cases grocery shopping. Caregivers assist in cleaning and taking those they are caring for on errands and other daily activities. When caring for an elderly patient a caregiver will also be responsible for a senior’s health care. This may include monitoring vital signs and keeping a log book (ex. if they are Diabetic). If the caregiver is caring for a child the job description may include making sure they are physically well and providing necessary social interaction such as playing games, reading and encouraging development of skills. Here are some basic caregiver job responsibilities:
- Change linens and make beds
- Prepare and plan meals (including clean-up)
- Help with walking and light exercise
- Plan ahead for future meals, check expiration dates on food
- Do laundry (may include light ironing)
- Light housekeeping duties (such as vacuuming and dusting)
- Assist with dressing, grooming and bathing
- Take out the trash
- Run small errands (pick up prescriptions, go to the bank, etc.)
- Remind when to take medications
- Engage in mental and physical exercises
- Escort to appointments (doctor, physical therapy, hair salon, etc.)
- Organize mail and maintain a schedule/calendar
- Escort to religious services
- Engage in regular activities (talking, games, etc.)
- Provide companionship
- Record daily care notes
- Make note of any significant changes in the client to the agency/service
Training and Education Requirements
There are no specific qualifications needed to become a caregiver. Many caregivers receive on the job training. There are some caregivers who do receive nursing training or rehabilitation training. This usually applies to those who seek work in a medical or long-term care facility. Those caregivers that dispense medications may be required to take basic training courses, depending on which state they are working in. Some states do require certification for certain types of caregivers, while others do not. Some caregivers seek advancement into the nursing profession. If a caregiver has the ultimate goal to become a registered or licensed nurse they will need an associate degree of two years or a bachelor’s degree of approximately three to four years.
Salary and Wages
While there is a significant amount of work involved in the caregiver field, unfortunately the salary is not generally that high in relation to all of the duties expected to be performed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary a caregiver can expect is a little less than $18,000 per year. Infant caregivers will sometimes receive health care benefits. Live-in caregivers may receive room and board free of charge as part of their terms of employment.* *According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/ Due to an increase in the average life expectancy, there will always be a need for caregivers. Research indicates that a large number of people prefer to have a licensed or certified caregiver. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for caregivers is expected to increase by approximately 18% from now through 2016. While there is not a lot of initial room for advancement, those caregivers who seek certification or nursing training may advance from the caregiver profession into the nursing profession.* *According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
While there is no outright certification requirement for all caregivers, some caregivers may receive nurses aid training through vocational or community colleges. Some caregivers may elect to take CPR or a general health course for which they will get a certification. While this is not required, it could be beneficial as part of the job. Nursing training is usually for a period of six months and generally includes skill training such as record keeping, patient care skills and taking vital signs. The National Association for Home Care and Hospice does offer voluntary certification. This usually includes courses requiring approximately 75 hours of course work. The courses are similar to those required for a certified nursing assistant course offering by several states.
The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, National Family Caregivers Association, National Alliance for Caregiving and American Association for Caregiver Education are some of the major professional associations for caregivers. Some states do have their own specific professional associations for caregivers such as the Florida Professional Association of Care Givers, Inc. and Iowa Care Givers Association.