Become a Personal Caregiver
Earn Money from Home
doing something you can feel great about.
(Featuring our Audio Library for Caregivers.)
Our goal and passion is to help you find a home business that is right for you. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could really enjoy what you are doing, make a difference in someone’s life and earn a good income in the process? Being a Personal Caregiver can provide you with that magic combination.
THE NEED: During my 30 years of practicing physical therapy I have noticed an incredibly strong desire at the core of every individual. People want to be free. They want to be independent for as long as they can. They understand that “there is no place like home” and they want to live there. However, stuff happens! Hip fractures can occur. Medical conditions may arise. Joints may need to be replaced. An accident may cause a temporary decline in function. Any of these may result in the inability to safely return to their homes. These people need care until they regain enough strength and mobility to live independently in their home environments. A personal caregiver can bridge the gap.
There are several care options that provide care between the hospital and the home. Some include, skilled nursing facilities, swing bed programs, and adult foster homes. Some patients may graduate from one of these facilities and return home with follow-up from a home health agency. Home health can provide nursing care and various therapies yet only for a certain length of time. As soon as “skilled nursing criteria” no longer exists they must be discharged from the agency and left to fend for themselves. What if they are not quite ready? This is where an in-home personal caregiver can save the day.
IN-HOME CARE: While doing physical therapy in the home health environment I noticed that some patients have incredible family support. In such cases a son or daughter or spouse provide the care. While this is the best possible option it is not always possible. We all have our lives to live and we all are busy making a living so we can stay ahead of the bill collectors. So, as much as a family members may want to provide care for their mom of dad it just may not be possible. This is where a personal caregiver can help fulfill the patient’s greatest desire -- living at home.
THE QUALIFICATIONS: You have a definite advantage if you are nurse, therapist or trained nurses aide, however, anyone with a caring heart who gets a thrill from helping others can qualify. Your background will determine how much you can do but realize this: As a personal caregiver you are encouraged to keep in touch with the client’s doctor, home health nurses and therapists. You could consider them as extensions of your knowledge. Follow their instructions and your own common sense and you can be on your way to making a huge difference in the lives of your clients.
THE “JOB” DESCRIPTION: I use the word “job” rather loosely because being a personal caregiver is your own business. You will be considered as self-employed and in business for yourself.
Be a Keen Observer and Report Any Sudden Changes: Notice how your client acts and communicates. Establish a baseline, or reference, point in hour head regarding their physical and mental condition. Here is where common sense comes in. Can’t you tell when your child or friend is acting differently or not feeling well. You can tell because you know that person and know when they are acting differently. The same applies here.
Make it your job to get to know your client so that you can notice when things seem different. Why? Because the change may indicate the onset of a serious problem. Changes in their mental status could be an adverse reaction from their medications. A rapid change in their overall strength and mobility could mean they are developing a UTI (Urinary tract Infection). A low grade fever and coughing or congestion may indicate the possible onset of pneumonia. It is NOT your job to diagnose. Doctors do that. However, it is your job to observe and report any changes to the doctor. Rapid changes in anything are a good reason to call the doctor to discuss it.
The personal caregiver occupies a vital role that even the doctors and all the other professionals do not occupy. You will know things that no one else knows. By interacting on a day-to-day basis you will have a good feel for how your client is doing. And, you will be in a position to be the first one to notice signs of a possible life-threatening condition.
Ensure Safety: As a personal caregiver you will be familiar with the person’s functional abilities. Be available to assist in transfers from bed to chair. Assist them in ambulation to the bathroom. Ask the physical therapist which assistive walking device (walker, cane, etc.) is best to use and remind your client to use it.
Be Aware of Balance Problems: Unstable gait can result in a fall. Be aware of things like vertigo and upslips that may set your client up for a fall. Many conditions, like strokes, urinary tract infections and many others can influence balance and walking stability. Keep in close touch with your client’s doctor -- especially if they suddenly become more unstable on their feet. Again, it’s not your job to diagnose but to report your observations.
Encourage Your Client: People are encouraged when they make progress. I make it a point to never flatter or exaggerate. You don’t have to. Simply look for positive changes in their condition or in how they are moving or walking. When you notice improvement tell them about it. I like to rave about it. When you do that you are telling them what they already know and they know you are telling them the truth. People really like that. Encouragement works wonders with all of us but especially for those recovering from an illness or injury.
Perform Follow-up stretching exercises: Check with your client’s physical therapist or doctor about follow-up stretches. Learn how to stretch the calf muscles. If this muscle becomes tight your client may never be able to stand or walk safely. It is sometimes called the Achilles’ Heel. This link will give you more information about how to prevent a potential deformity that can negatively impact your client’s life.
Perform Follow-up Strengthening Exercises: Again, this must be done under the direction and guidance of your client’s physician or physical therapist because sometimes certain exercises are contraindicated (potentially harmful and not recommended). If I had to pick the one exercise that has done the most good for the greatest number of people I would have to say it is the Sit-to-Stand Exercise. This is a great exercise as long as your client is allowed to bear weight. In some cases, following hip, leg or foot surgery the person is not allowed to bear full weight on the affected side. You need to be aware of these conditions. That is why it is important to ask the doctor, “Are there any weight bearing restrictions?” It is always a good idea to ask the doctor, or his nurse, if a certain exercise would be good for your client.
Medication Management: Most people recovering from an illness or injury take various medications. Work very closely with the doctor or home health nurse when it comes to your client’s medications. Be aware of possible side effects of medications. It is a good idea to buy a book about medications. There are many such books available. One that I like is called The Pill Book: The Illustrated Guide to the Most-Prescribed Drugs in the United States, by Bantam Books.
Humor is a Medicine with No Harmful Side Effects: The New Living translation of the Bible says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” (Proverbs 17:22) A good sense of humor goes a long way to encourage your client and cheer them up. Learn more about how Humor Heals.
Promotions: Order some professional-looking business cards. Talk with the discharge coordinators and social workers at the local hospitals. Let them know you are available. Some areas have caregiver lists developed by State agencies. Do a press release.
Be familiar with our Audio Library for Caregivers: This consists of basic audio training in many areas. It includes such things as “How to walk with a cane,” “How to Encourage,” “How to Prevent Pressure Sores,” and much more.
Assume Control of your Business: When you talk with a potential client about your services have some information prepared that explains what you are capable of doing and what your rates are. Feel free to negotiate with them as needed. Hours are also negotiable. Some clients may need around-the-clock assistance while others may need just a few hours of help per day. It may be necessary to network with a couple of other caregivers to provide the required care.
Being a Personal Caregiver can be extremely rewarding. It can allow you to enable a certain group of people to live where their hearts are -- in their homes. Even with home health agencies, nursing homes, swing bed programs there are still many who slip through the cracks. Many times, at hospital discharge planning meetings, I have heard it said, “This patient can safely go home if they have a personal caregiver in place.”
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Tom LeBlanc PT has been a physical therapist for over 30 years. His experience includes working in all of the above caregiving environments. He is currently developing a FREE TeleSeminar on Caregiver Secrets. He also hosts Home Entrepreneurs News, a site dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and business seekers find the business that is right for them. One of his “featured Businesses” is detailed in his article, Become a Personal Caregiver.