Choosing a caregiver’s career may be your personal journey. Are you a home health aide, certified nursing assistant, nurse, or a caregiver in another capacity?
Caregivers are in demand and you can play a role in helping others find if this is a career choice for them.
Imagine sitting down with someone having a casual conversation about your journey as a caregiver. What would your answer be to the questions below?
When Did You Decide to be a Caregiver? | A Lifelong Dream?
Your decision to be a caregiver may be a lifelong dream or came about as an after thought or out of necessity. A nurse or someone else in the profession may have had a positive impact on you.
Or you were suddenly faced with the unexpected responsibility of taking care of a family member. What kind of impact did it have on your career choice?
It’s not unusual for someone to switch careers after several years of being in one industry. An administrative professional may feel the call to become a caregiver.
This could be seen as a higher calling or shift to where the need is greater.
Some family members tend to gravitate towards the same profession. Think of a mother who works as a caregiver just the way her mother did. Now her daughter follows in their footsteps.
How does that compare to your own decision? Was it your passion?
Describe Some of the Your Caregiver’s Responsibilities | A Checklist
Caregivers work in homes, nursing facilities, and hospitals carrying out several functions. Some of these are …
- Taking vital signs such as blood pressure, pulse, and temperature.
- Grooming and dressing
- Shopping and preparing meals
- Assisting with and/or feeding
- Transferring and transporting
- Companionship or respite care especially to relieve a family member.
Some home health caregivers choose to work hourly while others take on live-in positions. What determines the decision to choose one over the other?
This is twofold as the needs of the patient or preference of the caregiver determines which position to choose.
A patient who requires around-the-clock care may have one or more live-in caregivers taking turns. Another option is to have hourly shifts on a daily basis.
Sometimes relatives choose to have outside help during the daytime while they take on the responsibility at night. The opposite is also true.
If family members work outside the home and the patient requires little or no assistance at night, they may eliminate overnight help.
The primary care family member will need help at any given time to avoid burnout. This could be hands-on with the patient or help with other activities.
Is Your Caregiver’s Career Long-term? | It’s Your Choice.
There are different ranks to consider when choosing a caregiver’s career. The difference is in the pay scale and training of a home health aide or certified nursing assistant compared to a nurse.
Someone starting out as a home health aide may transition later to a nurse. They may change careers moving to another medical field or a totally different industry.
Younger people tend to get in at the lower end part time or full time to test if this is a good fit for them. Older people getting in at the lower level may be reluctant to commit to higher education at that stage.
They may stay long term until they decide to retire.
Here are some things you should be committed to regardless of which level or length of time you choose …
- Be attentive to patients’ needs while showing respect and dignity.
- Provide utmost care to achieve the highest level of activities of daily living.
- Provide adequate nutritional guidelines during meal planning.
- Keep essential areas clean and free from potential hazards.
- Consider the importance of boundaries to maintain professional integrity, respect of personal time, and prevent burnout.
Your ability to maintain your own personal wellbeing will contribute to your decision.
Fulfillment, Challenges, Sustainability | Your Views
Three areas to examine before and during making this career choice will help to make a fair assessment.
How Fulfilled Are You as a Caregiver? | Scale of 1-10
Having a career as a caregiver can be fulfilling though very stressful. Answers will range anywhere on a scale of one to ten.
A score between one and five may indicate burnout, dissatisfaction with income or work conditions, and overall personal and professional status.
Six to ten ranges from relatively satisfied to extremely satisfied. This may come from individuals receiving compensation above the norm or who have an insatiable passion for this industry.
What Major Challenges Do You Face as a Caregiver? | How are you coping?
The playing field is not always level and there are challenges for caregivers, agencies or facilities, and clients or patients.
The thing to bear in mind is you’re dealing with people on all levels with complex emotions. Challenges also come from environmental and other external factors.
How do you handle these challenges?
Is Your Caregiver’s Career Sustainable? | Financially Viable?
The answer to this question varies. Everyone has different needs and support system which determine how sustainable their compensation is.
It also depends on whether you need to work part time, full time, or just occasionally.
My Caregiver’s Story | A Worthwhile Journey
It has been 15 years to date since I started my career as a caregiver. It wasn’t on my radar, wasn’t a childhood dream, and isn’t a part of my retirement plan.
What it has been is a lifesaver in more ways than one and my major source of income so far, providing a modest lifestyle.
I have made a significant difference in the lives of my patients and their families whether or not they express appreciation.
This transition from suits, stockings, pumps, meetings, minutes, and reports in a corporate administrative setting came after more than 20 years.
My years of experience didn’t earn me a place in similar positions after migrating to the USA from Jamaica.
Home health aide and certified nursing assistant positions were readily available without a steep learning curve.
I’ve had moments of discouragement, frustration, and burnout. Yet there are moments that I wouldn’t exchange for anything else. I may not be eager to relive the entire journey, but one particular mission had the most impact on my life.
You know how you’ve worked hard to achieve a goal and the joy and pride you feel? Suddenly something turns up and tries to snatch it from you.
It’s not a good feeling. Your heart aches, you put up defenses to protect yourself from being robbed from what could be a one-shot opportunity.
Here’s What Happened | This Made a Difference
I was on my way to my Tuesday night Bible study just before 7 pm. I got a call from a stranger whose friend had given her my name and number.
She was diagnosed with and being treated for terminal cancer. Her friend, whom I had assisted for only five days after she had surgery, told her she would be in good hands.
That was commendable, but a business opportunity I’d been working towards in another industry had just opened up. How could I just walk away?
The timing was all wrong. This was not a good time for someone to choose to put her life in my hands. It just wasn’t. My plan was to turn her down and find help for her elsewhere. So I thought ……
… I thought a lot about how to tell her I wasn’t available. It soon became apparent I didn’t know anyone to recommend.
We had several conversations during the next three months. She assured me I came highly recommended and was depending on me at this stage of her journey.
What was another minor setback for a worthy cause?
When she was released from hospital, I was already waiting for her in the lobby at her condominium. The receptionist would let me know when she arrived since I had no idea what she looked like.
I had put everything else on hold to move in and provide her with palliative, end-od-life care.
Five short weeks, some very difficult days, and sleepless nights could not take away from this experience. The bond we formed and the gratification from fulfilling this mission I was called to answer are unforgettable.
I have absolutely no regrets and although I’ve had many patients in those 15 years, this one case made all the difference.
The Moment of Truth | What Is a Caregiver’s Career Worth to You?
Has your career choice been responsible for your modest or more elegant lifestyle? In a time when others were laid off from their jobs, were you still employed?
The demand for caregivers at every level during the COVID-19 pandemic has skyrocketed. Many agencies admitted they have never seen this level of patients outnumbering caregivers.
Can you honestly say that you probably would have been faced with unemployment if you had a different career? I believe the answer is yes.
Compare to many other careers, you have a better chance of being gainfully employed especially in the face of a pandemic. This is also more apparent with the increase of the elderly population as baby boomers join this category.
Not everyone has a heart of compassion to give the level of care required. You have what it takes.
If you haven’t yet made that career choice but have been giving it a lot of thought, could this be where you belong?
Here’s my one long question to you …
- If you neglect this pull you have been battling with …
- Ignore and push it aside …
- Watch the increase in the elderly population while the patient to caregiver ratio widens …
- Would you feel responsible for not stepping up to fill a gap in this industry?
What’s your answer? Only you can interpret the unquenchable tug you feel on the inside.
If you are or have been a caregiver in any capacity, what’s your journey? Share your story with our readers. We would love to hear from you.
A Referral in Closing | Greenville, SC, Anyone?
If you’re in the Greenville, South Carolina area looking for an agency who cares about their caregivers as well as their clients, Griswold Home Care gets my recommendation. You can contact them at (864) 990-0329 or (864) 474-5911.
Please mention that Veron Percy-Jarrett referred you. I work for them as a certified nursing assistant. You will find a great place to work, and they’ll be sure to compensate me for the referral.
This is one way to merge ecosystems with key players in the healthcare or any other industry. Reach out in some way with your story. Make a connection that may be the vital link for someone.
One person recognizing and appreciating your value is all it takes to make an impact. First, know your own worth and maintain a high standard for yourself.
“A Caregiver’s Career | Tell Your Story About Your Journey,” takes you on a journey that’s yours and mine or someone you know. There’s so much more that can be said.
Please add your voice in the comments below. We would love to hear from you. What’s your story?