A caregiver is an individual who provides a variety of essential services to another who may be incapacitated by illness, injury, or age. Caregivers take care of the most basic needs of seniors and others who may be confined to their homes, beds, or other assisted living situations.
Why Become A Caregiver
People who work as caregivers often administer medications; bathe, dress, and conduct regular hygienic procedures; keep their clients/patients comfortable; feed, perform regular chores, and take care of household needs; and manage clients’/patients’ overall health and wellness. Caregivers often act as liaisons between family members of their client/patient and other healthcare professionals. They may work with these individuals in a private home or in another setting.
To be a caregiver takes patience and a specific level of expertise regarding the client’s/patient’s particular needs; however, being a caregiver also takes personal traits and qualities that not all people possess:
Knowledgeable of unique needs
Aptitude for medical safety procedures
Caregiver Work Environment
Caregivers can work in a variety of places, as individuals with needs can live in many different locations. Most caregivers work in the home of their client/patient. They may be hired by the client/patient themselves or by family members, depending on limitations. Other common places of employment for caregivers are in senior care facilities, assisted living facilities, hospitals, and other residential facilities which serve those with intellectual, emotional, and physical disabilities, as well as substance abuse issues.
Caregivers work fulltime, as the needs of their clients/patients never cease. For those who work in out-of-home facilities, other shift workers can help provide care. For those who work in-home, a family member may be able to help. There is work available for live-in caregivers, as well.
The salary of a caregiver varies, depending on place of employment, client/patient and family ability to pay, and education/experience of the caregiver. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, personal care aides earn a median annual salary of $20,980 (2015). Those who work for residential programs (serving those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental health, and substance abuse issues) will likely earn more than their counterparts who work in senior homes/assisted living facilities, and in-home healthcare.
For those who wish to pursue more training and become certified nursing assistants (CNAs), the median annual salary is $26,820.
Caregiver Career Outlook
The job outlook for this career is excellent, with an expected growth of 26 percent from 2014 to 2024. One of the main reasons for this is the aging baby boomer generation. Since this generation has a large populace, they will require more medical services and care as they age. Many individuals prefer in-home care, and so the demand for this type of employment will also rise, especially for those who do not require much medical and mental health attention. Caregivers can provide a service to families and clients/patients without much medical expertise, and so they provide a great option without the added expenses of a hospital facility or in-home nurse.
Many caregiver jobs require only a high school diploma/GED; however, many facilities and clients/patients prefer individuals with training in the field. This training will provide a cutting edge against competition, and specializing can help to land higher paying jobs.
Step 1: Obtain appropriate educational training. One of the most common paths for a caregiver is to become a CNA. This credential requires a high school diploma/GED and 75 hours of training, which includes CPR certification.
Other options exist for aspiring caregivers who do not wish to become a nursing assistant. Many community colleges and online programs provide basic courses to train caregivers how to appropriately provide for those in their care. Home health aides, who work for Medicare and Medicaid, undergo specific training that teaches them how to read vital signs, control infection, manage personal hygiene, maintain basic nutrition, and provide for those in their charge.