There are many different types of caregivers. Home health aides, for example, work in people’s homes, providing assistance with daily living tasks such as bathing, dressing, and preparing meals. Personal care aides may help their clients with day-to-day tasks in the home, such as cleaning, shopping, banking, and preparing meals.
Nursing aides and orderlies provide basic care for patients in hospitals and nursing homes. Other caregivers work in schools, providing assistance to children with special needs, or help people in their homes with disabilities or chronic illnesses.
Although many caregivers are employed by agencies, some work independently. Caregivers are employed in hospitals, nursing homes, adult care centers, and private homes.
Caregiver Job Duties
Caregivers can be charged with a wide range of duties, including:
- Providing companionship to elderly or disabled persons in their homes, often to help with daily living tasks, such as bathing, preparing meals, doing light housekeeping, and providing transportation
- Maintaining accurate records of patient appointments and activities throughout the day
- Monitoring and reporting changes in the patient’s condition to medical professionals
- Ensuring compliance with any special diets or dietary restrictions of the client
- Answering questions from patients or their families about care plans or medication schedules
- Ensuring that the patient is comfortable and well cared for at all times
Caregiver Salary & Outlook
As of May 2020, the Bureau of Labour Statistics reports that the median annual wage for caregivers is $27,080, or $13.65 per hour. The lowest 10% of earners are earning $20,130 per year, and the highest 10% are earning $36,990 per year.
The amount of jobs for caregivers is expected to increase by 34% between 2019-2029. This is much faster than the average for all occupations. This is due to the fact that the baby-boom generation is rapidly aging, and the elderly population is growing.
Caregiver Job Requirements
Most caregivers need little or no formal education, but they do need training to learn their job.
Education: The type of education required for this position is dependent on the specific needs of the employer. A high school diploma or GED is usually required. Some employers may prefer a two-year degree in a related field.
Training: Most employers require some form of on-the-job training, which may last from a few weeks to several months.
Certification: Certification is not required by law, but it can be an asset to a job candidate. The main certification program for caregivers is from the National Association for Home Care and Hospice.
Caregivers need to have a variety of skills in order to succeed. The following are some examples:
Social skills: A caregiver needs to be able to work well with other people, whether they’re patients or family members.
Caregiving skills: A caregiver must be able to care for patients or clients effectively and efficiently.
Medical knowledge: While not every caregiver will need medical knowledge, those who do should have a solid understanding of how the human body works and what types of injuries and illnesses require immediate attention.
Knowledge of medications: Those who care for the elderly or children may need to know about various medications and their effects on the body.
Organizational skills: Caregivers often must organize activities for patients or clients, such as doctor appointments, therapy sessions, outings, etc. This requires excellent organizational skills.
Physical stamina: Some caregivers might spend all day helping someone move around the house or do basic exercises; others might have long shifts at a hospital or nursing home.
Caregiver Work Environment
Many caregivers work at nursing homes, retirement communities, and assisted living facilities. In-home caregivers may provide care for a client in their home.
There are many positives to this job, including the ability to work in a familiar environment, the comfort of the client’s home, and the ability to develop relationships with the client. A downside to the job includes the emotional toll it can take. It can be stressful to be around people who are sick or dying, and the caregiver can become depressed.
Caregiver Career Advancement
Caregivers may advance in the field by obtaining additional training and certification. Some caregivers might choose to become home health aides, and may wish to learn about areas such as holistic care and the administration of medication. Other caregivers might want to become registered nurses.
If you are a caregiver who wants to advance your career, you should be prepared to go back to school and study for a degree. Even if you don’t want to pursue something as rigorous as a nursing degree, many employers might still prefer that you take classes in subjects like psychology and sociology.
Here are three trends influencing how Caregivers work. Caregivers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.
Baby Boomers will Continue to Age in Place
Baby boomers are the largest demographic in the United States, accounting for approximately 25% of the population. As they continue to age, this group will become more interested in options that allow them to age in place, which means caregivers like home health aides and personal care assistants will see greater demand as baby boomers stay at home instead of moving into assisted living facilities.
Increased Importance of Emotional Intelligence
Caregivers are increasingly becoming responsible for more than just the physical well-being of their patients. Today, it is also important for caregivers to address their patients’ emotional needs in order to improve overall health outcomes.
This has led to an increased emphasis on empathy and other soft skills that can help patients get the most out of their healthcare experience. For example, many hospitals now offer yoga classes to reduce stress levels and strengthen coping skills among patients with chronic conditions.
More Nursing Homes Investing in Technology
Many nursing homes are investing in technology that can help keep their patients healthy, especially when it comes to monitoring eating habits and physical activity.
By investing in this technology, nursing homes are not only helping their patients stay healthier, but they are also able to help reduce the amount of time staff spend on these tasks so they can focus more on patient care.
How to Become a Caregiver
1. Planning Your Career Path
Caregiving is a broad term that covers a wide range of responsibilities, from providing emotional support to assisting with physical tasks. If you’re considering becoming a caregiver, it’s important to determine which role you’re most interested in so that you can pursue training and experience in that area. For example, some caregivers spend their time with senior citizens, while others assist those with disabilities. You will also want to take into account the specific needs of your patients so that you can adequately address their individual circumstances.
2. Writing a Resume
When writing your resume for a caregiver position, it’s important to highlight the personal and interpersonal skills that make you a great caregiver. Many of these skills can be related to past experiences as a caregiver or to personal life experiences. For example, if you have worked as a caregiver in the past, you may want to include an explanation of how you helped patients feel more comfortable or secure. If you are able to provide concrete examples of these types of skills, it will make it easier for potential employers to see that you have what it takes.
3. Applying for Jobs
Whether you are looking for a part-time or full-time position, the key to success is to be proactive and persistent. When applying for caregiver jobs, follow up with employers via phone or email as opposed to simply waiting for them to contact you. You should also try using social media platforms to reach out directly; this will help you make connections outside of your existing network of friends and family.
4. Ace the Interview
During an interview as a caregiver candidate, it is important to stay positive and energetic. During the interview, be sure to discuss your previous experience in detail and describe your ability to multitask.
The most important thing you can do during an interview as a caregiver candidate is to listen well! Your interviewer will want to know that you can work well with people and are able to communicate effectively; so be sure that you really understand what the employer is asking before responding. Make eye contact, use gestures when appropriate, smile naturally at appropriate moments, answer questions directly…these simple habits can make all the difference in whether or not employers view you favorably.