Caregiver Training for Professionals and Family Members

Personal Care and Companion Care

caregiver training
It is important that both professionals and family members receive appropriate training in their roles.. Getty Images

Being a caregiver seems like something that might just be intuitive, but in reality caring for someone can be enhanced by some professional training. In this article we'll cover caregiver training for professionals and family members and the two categories that covers - personal care and companion care.

You might be asking, “Who needs to be trained to care?” The fact is that there is not just one kind of care needed for the many people who require some level of in-home care, whether that care is provided by a family member or a professional caregiver.

Home care typically falls into two categories: personal care and companion care. Personal care involves physical contact and might include assistance with bathing or showering, dressing, and the like; companion care is a range of services that might include someone to take a walk or play games with or providing transportation to and from a medical appointment. Both of 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 many reasons to hire a caregiver agency versus asking a friend for a favor or paying the relative of a friend under the table. For many people, hiring a caregiver also allows them to maintain the relationship they’ve always had with their relative rather than become a caregiver who is suddenly helping a loved one in the bathroom.

When you hire a caregiver from a reputable agency to provide home care services, in addition to going through background checks and receiving regular supervision, this person has been trained to deliver both a meaningful and safe experience.

While a spouse or adult son or daughter might be able to act as a caregiver for their loved one in the early stage of an illness, there can 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 transfers from the bed to the bathroom— is for the individual to receive the highest quality of care. In this way, the caregiver will know how to lift someone without injury to themselves or that individual, or not to become impatient with someone being forgetful.

How We Do It

Each home care company has their own process for 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 completed by caregivers.

The most popular courses on that University are:

  1. Communication with the elderly
  2. Abuse and neglect
  3. HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)
  4. Basic first aid
  5. 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 person being cared for.

In order to get everyone on the same page, there are courses available to family and friends of clients as well. One package of courses is titled, “Family Caregiver Education” and includes information about backup care options, tips on self-care when caregiving, in-home safety and more.

Your local Area Agency on Aging likely has information about classes you can take to better understand what being a family caregiver might entail.

If you are caring for a loved one living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, the nearest Alzheimer’s Association chapter can refer you to the 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” at different stages of the progressive illness.

Easter Seals offers support and training to those family members who care for veterans. This training includes teaching those caregivers how to take care of themselves, manage difficult behaviors of those to whom they provide care, and home safety skills.

Whether you are a family caregiver, researching home care for a loved one, or even considering work as a caregiver, know that there are resources out there to prepare you to undertake this new role. The more informed you are, the more of a difference you can make with your care.

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