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Looking into being a caregiver. Qualifications?

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    Looking into being a caregiver. Qualifications?

    Hello all,
    I been thinking of becoming a caregiver/assistant as I feel its something I could be capable of and also compatible to my life.
    I have in the past worked with a friend who was paraplegic while at Wright Patt AFB as a student aid. I would help him with lunches, restroom facilities and transportation. Also visited him in helping in and around his home. I enjoyed it as he was my friend (tried to pay me once but I refused) so I know the helping part is not a problem for me. Im a caring person to others and respectful and I feel easy to get along with.

    Also as a child, my neighbor had a adult son with a rare disease that left him physically disabled. I would help the father in his movement and other small task.

    I currently work and study online with no defining or strict hours. The difficult part is maintaining an living income for rent. I get by but it makes it harder. All Ill need is a simple room with internet access. If Im needed 80+ full hours a certain week that wont be a problem as my online activities are not strict.

    I recently replied to an ad for assistant on Craigslist in my area (I'm in Enon, Ohio). Though I relize now I might have to be certified? A plus though is that I could live anywhere and not be restricted to my current location.

    Hoping others here might give me in there advice in training/education needed before being fully commited to a new job?

    Ive taken some college (was interested in physical therapy). Have trained cpr/first aid though those would need to be taken again. I have a certificate in Phlebotomy(drawing blood) but that was some time ago.

    Probably a problem would be that I dont have a drivers license. It was revoked years back (possible problem in being qualified?). Ive had no real need in getting it. Though I can get it back if needed. No restrictions.

    I'm a 38 year old single white male with no children. I'm around 6'2" and a lean 190-200lbs with no health issues. I'll be able to lift/carry most people when needed. A good thing is my size but is my being a male a problem for many who seek caregivers?

    So the questions for now would be:
    1. Certifications needed? Are they absolute (I should probably check state by state)
    2. No drivers license a big problem?
    3. Being that I'm male not many will want me?
    4. My age?
    I'm used to demanding jobs and hard work (construction/factory) so thats not a problem. Looking into whats fully needed of me.

    Thanks for the help. Reading more of the forum.

    Three important things you realy need...
    1. Time
    2. Patience
    3. Transportation
    I got into caregiving by starting at the bottom. I signed up with a local agency and took wahtever work I could get. I was hired with one of the lower end agency's and my clients were not so great, but you have do do some dirty work before you get up the ladder. Make sure you have reliable transportation, or don't take a job you know will be difficult to get to. Be reliable and very flexible! very important! otherwise you won't get very many hours. A lot of care giving gigs only last a few hours couple times a week so make sure you set aside travel time to get from one client to another.
    It depends on what type of job you get too. There are live in jobs and live out jobs. I have never been a live in myself.
    Most agencys will train you and give you the testing you need. There is a huge need for medical people out there so you have a good chance for work.
    I want to forwarn you though, know your limits and how much time you want to spend doing this cause once you make a commitment to a client you want to be straight forward about how much time you need off and what you can do.

    Being a male?? well there is a big need for male caregivers I think. I have had a few male clients and I feel a little out of place sometimes attending to mens needs. Sometimes a client really needs a male caregiver. I took care of a gentelman for a few days, I was a stand in.. well he would not let me help him in the restroom at all!

    There are many sitiuations where caregivers are needed, senior care, special needs and I am sure many others that I cant think of. Since I mainly work with seniors, I still don't know all that is out there!

    As far as the emotional toll caregiving can put on a person, well I look at it one way.. you either can or cant do this line of work. I don't have anything really to compare it too. You just need to be a patient person and understanding as well. I think communication is also a huge factor. You run into a lot of personalities and being able to flex around all that is a must. Nobody's going to pe perfect. I take vacations from it whenever possible, or restrict my hours some weeks.
    Other than that, I say give it a try and just jump in see what happens! I enjoy it greatly and think that it is a great way to help others out.
    I have a few male friends that are caregivers, they help special needs kids in group homes. It seems to me big strong men are an ideal canidate for a group home environment! I have no idea how to get into that line of caregiving. But you have to start somewhere right?
    Good luck on all that! You really have to test the waters of caregiving to really know what you are getting into. I love it!


      I was a caregiver. I think the angels planned it that way, so that when I stepped over to care needer I would have the courage to make the best of it. I had to become a legal driver. and I had to be bonded. i dont think being male will count against you at all. their are a lot of male para's and quads who prefer male caregivers .............yeah!, eagles ahead by two, but its the end of the fourth. sorry, fly eagles fly.
      and the truth is, a good reputation will get you all the work you want.
      but you must get there. my client actually taught me how to drive. she is still a good friend and in fact has 25 hours available, but the two most promising are not legal to drive. by digging, it turned out both had revoked
      DL. being legal to drive says something about how dependable you may be, and most people who are looking for a care giver will not hire someone without driving privliges.


        nickelo, what a nice post. it might be good to hear more about care givers emotional needs. and what can be done to prevent burnout.


          I have been told by my agencies to make clear that I am doing ok - the agencies I have worked for care a great deal for the emotional state of their cargivers and are very flexible. Very undertstanding which is nice cause you don't feel the pressure as much and are able to cope better. Not that I have to much to complain about, like I say were all human right?
          I feel more stress when I find a client of mine is not getting the care they need or have been negleted in some way, like the house will be a total mess and nobody's lifted a finger for these people, when I find that the client is just getting below standard care it makes me a little ill. I have gone and taken many steps on my own to get some of the houses I have seen in better order. I think everyone deserves to be treated with diginity.
          Well this could easily turn into a great conversation! you know what I'm talking about. Thank you for the kudos!!
          Last edited by nickelo; 4 Jan 2009, 8:57 PM.


            I would add reliability and honesty to Nickelo's list of qualifications. We can teach just about anyone willing to learn the actual psychomotor skills needed (transfers, caths, bowel care, skin care, range of motion, etc.) but if the person does not show up on time per schedule, or steals from you, all of the skills in the world are totally worthless. A good sense of humor helps a lot too.

            You don't need to be certified unless you plan to work for an agency. Most people who private pay for PCA care don't care about that. Some males prefer a male PCA. Some would not hear of it (homophobic). Most females want a female caregiver if you would be doing bowel or bladder care, bathing, etc. but some don't care.

            Not having a driver's license could be a problem. We not only want the person to be able to drive our van (when that is part of the job) but to be able to provide their own reliable transportation to work and to run errands.

            Just because you are big and a male, don't get caught into doing a lot of heavy physical lifting. OSHA says you should not lift more than 35 lbs. in providing patient care. If you want to stay healthy and keep your good back, look for jobs where the employer needs only moderate to minimal assistance with transfers, or has a lift that is used for transfers.

            If you are willing/able to live in and/or travel, that is a big plus for some jobs, so be sure it is included in your list of assets.

            The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.


              I'm a male who's more comfortable with a male caregiver. Six months ago I searched & searched to replace my then-current live-in help of six years (so he & gf could get a house). He is a 29yr old, 6'2" 190lb Personal Trainer. That worked great for me - help in am before he went to work & pm after returning. New help is 21yrs, 5'8" very overweight, not real strong, unemployed & doesn't drive.
              ... and I'm lucky I found him.
              "Let your food be your medicine" - Hippocrates


                I would be concerned about the revoked drivers license...and the reason...(most are for drunk driving or a failure to pay child support) and that ain't looking too good...of course there are always reasons and excuses and you might find someone who would look beyond that...I sure as heck wouldn't...I want someone who I can TRUST with good references...Here in Oklahoma there is the freedom of information and we can go to the website and put in your name and your history is there for the world to see...Having a male aid for my son would be great, nothing against that issue...judy


                  Thanks you all for the great info and direction as its been very helpful.
                  Going with an agency seems will have to be a must for experience and to build credit/references. Good to hear males all also in demand.

                  Reliability. I dont like to let anyone down. Thats why I believe live-in would be best. Couldnt be much differant from what I'm already used as I rarely go anywhere. Mainly because I didnt need to. An agency though would help establish my reliability.

                  Honesty. Ive grown up in a small town and live here again. Doors are left open in the neighberhood. Need to remember most people dont do this.
                  Again it seems an agency would help in developing credit.

                  Time I certainly have. Patience I'm known for and rely on it almost daily.

                  The transportation part is going to be difficult. Not so much in getting my license but investing in a reliable vehicle. This is a dilemma as I'm not really interested in the money so much. Just basic livings needs. But to get that minimal I'll have to invest a decent amount of money. Though this is something only I can workout and decide.

                  Thanks again all. I been reading more of the forum and looking thru Craigslist for the demand and the people looking for work. Weighing my options and possibilities.


                    OK, if you are going to work for an agency, you will need to become state certified as a HHA (home health aide). This will require you to attend classes (60-80 hours usually), plus clinicals with an instructor, and learn about a wide variety of skills, but not generally the ones that people with SCI need the most (catheterization, bowel care, etc.). Then you will have to find a job with an agency, and they will assign you to cases under the supervision of an RN. You will primarily be doing dressing, bathing, feeding, transfers, changing diapers, etc., and it is unlikely it will be live in. You will probably work an hour here, an hour there, so will need a car (agencies will reimburse you for milage but not provide you a car). You will work all sorts of hours if you want to work full time.

                    An RN will determine what you are to do, and for how long. Most of your clients will be short term as insurance pays little or nothing for HHA care, and most people can't afford private pay for very long. An exception may be hospice patients since Medicare does pay some for HHA for these folks. You will not be allowed to administer medications, do catheterizations or bowel care, do dressing changes or wound care, or assist with tube feedings.

                    Some agencies provide benefits (insurance, etc.) but many do not. You will get about $8-10/hour, although the agency will bill $18-24/hour for your services. Your taxes will be withheld and you (usually) will pay into SS.

                    You will be required to take a certain number of hours of class annually (at your own expense) to maintain your certification. If you want to work in nursing homes or hospitals as well, you will probably need to attend more classes to get your CNA (certified nursing assistant) certificate.

                    In order to be a PCA and work privately for people, you don't need to do any of this...just be willing to follow directions, show up, be honest and reliable. When we hire PCAs we value this far and above the certifications. Some of our worst PCAs were certified as HHAs or CNAs.

                    The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.


                      We hire caregivers, and you raise alot of good things to think about from the person-to-be-hired's perspective.

                      Here's my view:

                      I do have major concerns about hiring men in general, but ESPECIALLY for a live in situation because we have a young son in our home and I would be very distrustful of any man I didn't personally know for many, many years to live in our house. Too much potential access for sexual abuse, etc (I'm just being blunt, and honest). Also, as a male, my safety as a woman, I need to be reassured too. Since obviously my husband cannot "defend" me, I am quite concerned with my safety as well.

                      Driver's license: yes, big problem. If you are hiring in privately, you'd lack the ability to run errands, take your client anywhere, etc. A big part of what I want from a caregiver is to take my husband to doctor's appointments, which are numerous, and that would not be possible for your situation. Oh, and again bluntly: without a car, and as a live-in, you would ALWAYS be here. Its really nice for a PCA to go visit friends, eat out, basically, be gone for a few hours, especially on your days off, so that we don't feel like we have someone looking over our shoulders constantly. The up side is being flexible for spontaneous needs.

                      As for certification, you certainly don't need that. You can learn anything you need to know if you are going to be hired by a private individual. That's the way to go in my book, we have had universal bad luck with agencies.
                      Wife of Chad (C4/5 since 1988), mom of a great teenager