A home caregiver is a man or woman who provides living assistance to seniors or individuals with physical or developmental disabilities. A professional might visit several clients throughout a week or focus services on a particular person. Home caregivers perform a number of housekeeping, cooking, and personal hygiene duties to help their clients maintain a high degree of freedom and independence and avoid being admitted into a nursing home or assisted living facility. In addition, a home caregiver acts as a companion to his or her clients, developing friendships and allowing them to engage in meaningful conversation on a regular basis. The majority of these professionals work for home health care agencies, though some caregivers operate their own businesses.
Caregivers are usually required to be in good physical health, capable of performing occasional heavy lifting, and able to make important, immediate medical decisions. It is common for a home caregiver to be on his or her feet most of the day, sweeping and vacuuming floors, preparing meals, washing dishes, changing sheets, and helping clients move around. He or she may also be asked to run errands, send mail, and shop for groceries. A home caregiver might handle basic medical tasks, such as dispensing medication, inserting catheters, and checking vital signs, after receiving hands-on training by a registered nurse.
Many experienced caregivers consider companionship to be the most important aspect of the job. Having a casual conversation is often enough to raise the spirits of a lonely individual. Compassionate, interested caregivers can make citizens feel comfortable, secure, and important. Over time, caregivers usually become close friends with their clients and family members.
An individual who wants to become a home caregiver is usually required to have a high school diploma and a clean criminal record. Some community colleges and universities offer degree programs for caregivers who want to improve their understanding of the job, their credentials, and their opportunities for employment. Most new caregivers receive classroom and on the-job-training to learn the fundamentals of the position as well as their agency's policies, rules, and regulations.
Depending on the employer and the nature of a specific job, a home caregiver may be required to attend additional training courses to learn about specific diseases or disabilities, emergency procedures such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) techniques and first aid administration. After completing training courses and passing written examinations, caregivers usually receive CPR certification and other credentials that can be applied to other jobs in the future.