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Working with Caregivers in your home

If your loved one would prefer to stay at home, hiring a professional caregiver can bring many benefits. There are many things to consider when hiring and working with a professional caregiver. They will be responsible for your loved one and become part of you and your loved one's lives. First, we have to understand what professional caregivers are and what they do.

What do caregivers do?

Caregivers assist people who are sick, injured, disabled, or the elderly and fragile. Caregivers mainly work in the homes of their clients. Their tasks can range from household work to specific therapies and monitoring of their client's health. There are different types of caregivers with varying levels of training and qualifications, each with its own set of tasks which we will explain next.

The different types of professional caregivers

  • Non-Certified Aides are known as Personal Care Aides (PCAs) or Home Helpers. These are caregivers that provide personal care services that can include housekeeping, meal preparation, and companionship. Homemakers, chore workers, and companions fall into this category and focus on their specific tasks. However, these caregivers are not certified for medical procedures and to administer medication.
  • Certified Aides include Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) and Home Health Aides (HHAs). These caregivers are certified and have passed training to assist patients with their daily living and medical needs. They are skilled in their procedures and properly observe their client's health for professional reports. They may have additional home care training or healthcare training, although this differs from state to state. Nurses will supervise any medical procedures they perform.
  • Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), also known as Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVN), are qualified to perform specific skilled nursing procedures. To receive their nursing license, they must pass their state curriculum requirements and a standardized national exam after finishing their college program. A registered nurse also supervises these nurses while they are working.
  • Registered Nurses (RNs) are competent to perform all aspects of skilled nursing care and manage the other healthcare team members, including the nurses and certified aides listed above. RN's have extensive education, including a nursing diploma and an associate's degree in nursing to go with their nursing license.

The benefits of having a home caregiver

There are many benefits to having a professional caregiver in your home. We'll go over some of the significant advantages:

  • More time for yourself is a tremendous benefit. As looking after a loved one's needs can be very demanding and time-consuming. Juggling work, family, chores, and caregiving can leave you tired, stressed, and overwhelmed. Caregivers will help free up some time to help you relax or utilize that time for another task.
  • Room to focus on your career is another significant benefit. Caregiving tasks can get in the way of your work or even drastically alter your working patterns to accommodate for their care. An in-home caregiver can avoid disrupting your work schedule and career.
  • More time to spend with family is a considerable benefit if you have a partner and children. You may find yourself not having as much time with family because of work and caregiving responsibilities. A caregiver can allow you to spend more time with your family and help with their needs and wants.
  • The assurance that your loved one receives good care can give you peace of mind. When caregiving, you may doubt your abilities and question if you are handling things correctly. Professional caregivers can altogether remove these doubts.
  • Improving your mood is a result of these the reasons above. Caregiving alone is hard work, and you can start feeling anxious, depressed, exhausted, and angry. A caregiver can give you room to rest and de-stress to avoid these feelings from taking root and spreading.

Working with a caregiver

We have gone over the types of caregivers and what they can do for you and your loved one. You may be wondering what's the best way to work with one in your home. Here are some tips and guidelines to work well with your caregiver:

1. Take the time to set a good foundation with an introduction. Then establish expectations. Starting with a proper introduction can help a caregiver settle into their role and place in the household. Setting expectations can also make things easier for your loved ones as they get to know their caregiver and spend more time together.

2. Offer an appropriate work environment. Even though it is your home, it's also your caregiver's workplace. Ensuring their safety and comfort and providing them with needed supplies will make their work much more manageable.

3. Please explain in detail how something is done and do it often. There may be specific things that you would like done in your household that are uncommon in others. Being clear about this to your caregiver can prevent any mistakes and confusion.

4. Be sure to discuss significant variations from the care plan (job description) before asking the caregiver to do unexpected tasks. Your caregiver may be comfortable working on functions in their job description. For example, asking a non-certified aide to do a certified aide's work isn't recommended.

5. Be friendly and understanding. If you have also experienced caregiving, you will know how tiring and stressful the job can be. Be sure to listen to your caregiver's needs and accommodate them the best you can.

Caregiving is rewarding but stressful.

Caregiving can be difficult. There are many different emotions and situations that a person can go through. At the same time, caregiving can take a toll on any person. Understanding caregiver stress will help you make the best decisions for yourself, your loved one, and your caregivers.
Signs of caregiver stress can include:

  • Feeling tired often, overwhelmed, sad, or constantly worry.
  • Irregular sleep patterns.
  • Drastic changes in body weight.
  • They become easily agitated.
  • Losing interest in activities that they enjoy.
  • Constant headaches, body pain, or other physical problems.
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications.

Strategies for dealing with caregiver stress:
However, there are ways of dealing with caregiver stress should you start to experience some of these symptoms:

  • Accepting help wherever possible would go a long way. Whether it would be finding friends or other caregiving resources should help take some toll off of your shoulders. 
  • Setting realistic goals will help make the caregiving effort much more manageable. Prioritizing and listing steps and establishing a daily routine and checklist will keep your caregiving efforts focused and reasonable.
  • Joining a support group and seeking social support can help you develop strategies and find encouragement to keep going. People in support groups can understand what you are going through, and this may be an excellent way to connect with others.
  • Setting personal health goals is another way to manage your stress. Establishing good sleep patterns, exercise, and a healthy diet can go a long way in ensuring your health as well.

Where can you find a caregiver?

There are many different ways to hire a caregiver for your loved one. Each avenue has its pros and cons and requires varying amounts of effort and cost. Here are some of the ways:

  • Home Care Agencies can provide an easy way of finding a caregiver for your loved one. They provide prescreened workers with the relevant experience that will suit your loved one's needs. Although their ease does come with a higher cost, they aren't too flexible on time, and there is little choice when it comes to the caregivers they assign to your family.
  • Home health care registries are staffing services that allow you to find and hire independent caregivers. They will refer you to matching candidates and often charge a one-time fee if you agree and hire a candidate. These registries allow you to find a caregiver that can be a better fit for your loved one. You will set the rules and schedule for their work. Although, this means you will take on the responsibilities of an employer, dealing with paperwork, scheduling, insurance, and emergency coverage. You will also have to do background checks and verify their credentials on your own.
  • Personal referrals can be similar to hiring through a registry. Still, you have the added benefit of a friend or group's good referral. Some good ways to look for referrals can include checking with friends and neighbors. You can look through neighborhood communities both online and through community centers. You can contact your local Area Agency on Aging for recommendations or use the federal government's Eldercare Locator.

We hope this article gives you an idea of what it's like working with caregivers in your home and the steps needed to find one that would fit your home life. 

FAQ

What qualities should I look for in a caregiver?

If you are looking to hire a caregiver, it would be good to consider these qualities when looking for one:

  • Attention to detail
  • Great interpersonal skills
  • Good stamina and health
  • Solid time management

How many hours does a caregiver work?

The hours a caregiver works can depend on their work along with their arrangement or agency schedule. Some caregivers can work four to five hours a day. In comparison, some can work 8 - 12 hours shifts. A Live-in caregiver can provide 24 hours of care with 8 hours to sleep.

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