You may think that being a caregiver is something that comes intuitively, but in reality, the ability to care for someone can be improved by some professional training. Here we will cover caregiver training for professionals and family members and the two categories that covers - companion care and personal care.
You might be sitting there thinking to yourself, "Who needs to be trained to care?" However, the fact of the matter is this - there is not just one type of care needed for the many people who need some sort of in-home care, whether that care is being provided by a family member or a professional caregiver.
Home care generally falls into two categories: personal care and companion care. Personal care involves physical contact and includes assistance with bathing, showering, dressing, and the like. On the other hand, companion care is a series of services that could include taking someone for work, playing games with someone, or providing transportation to and from a medical appointment. Both these types of care might be needed in the short term or for the long term, and as an illness, such as dementia, progresses, the type of care needed will change.
Supervised and Trained Caregivers
There are a number of reasons to hire a caregiver instead of asking a friend for a favor or paying a relative of a friend under the table. For many people, hiring a caregiver also allows them to maintain the relationship that they have always had with their relative rather than becoming a caregiver who is suddenly helping their loved one go to the bathroom.
When you hire a caregiver from a respectable agency to provide home care for a relative, in addition to going through background checks and receiving regular supervision, this person has also been trained to deliver a safe and meaningful experience.
While a spouse or adult child might be able to act as a caregiver for their loved one in the early stages of an illness, there will come a time when they need someone with more specific skills to step in.
The goal when training a caregiver in advance - whether the care is for memory impairment or helping with movement from the bed to the bathroom - is for the individual to receive the best quality of care possible. Therefore, it is important that the caregiver knows how to lift someone without injuring themselves or the individual, or not to become impatient with someone who has become forgetful.
How We Do It
Every home care company has their own way of training caregivers, but back in 2008, Homewatch CareGivers International developed the Homewatch CareGivers University so that every office location could apply the same standards to training. In 2015, there were 5,665 courses complete by caregivers.
The most popular courses are:
• Communication with the elderly
• Elderly abuse and neglect
• HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)
• Basic first aid
• Dementia care
Not Just for the Pros
Many times a professional caregiver is one part of a larger care team that might include family members of the patient. In order to get everyone on the same wavelength, there are some courses available to family and friends of clients as well. One package of courses is titled, "Family Caregiver Education" and includes information on backup care options, tips on self-care, in-home safety and lots more.
Your local Area Agency on Aging likely has information about classes that you can take in order to achieve a better understanding of what being a family caregiver might entail.
If you're caring for someone with Alzheimer's or another type of cognitive brain disease, the nearest Alzheimer's Association chapter can refer you to a course that is best for your circumstances. Some of the free online workshops available through the Alzheimer's Association include, "Legal and Financial Planning for Alzheimer's Disease" and "Living with Alzheimer's".
Whether you are a family caregiver, researching home care for a loved one, or even if you're considering work as a caregiver, it is good to know that there are plenty of resources out there that will prepare you for this new role. The more informed you are, the more of a difference you can make in someone's life.