Caregiving in the US is primarily a family affair, with estimates of over 53 million unpaid caregivers for adults age 50 and over. As the aging population grows, the strain on family caregivers is increasing and caregiver burnout is becoming more prevalent. For these reasons, the need for professional caregivers is surging. The National Caregiver Alliance reports that in 2015, 17% of family caregivers reported that their health was poor, and in 2020, that percentage went up to 26%.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Should You Make Sure to Include in a Caregiver Job Description?
- Caregiver Job Description for Private In-Home Help
- Caregiver Job Description for Agencies
- Caregiver Job Description for Long-Term Care Facilities
- Caregiver Job Description for Children
The task for families, their loved ones, agencies, and professional caregivers is figuring out how to provide a service that is cost-efficient and accessible. The consumer has more options than ever before, including hiring through an agency, hiring through an online company, or choosing someone recommended by a friend. Hiring in-home help is big business, and caregivers have more options than ever before to find jobs in a wide range of environments.
Adding to the challenge of caregiver job descriptions are state regulations that dictate what caregiver duties are allowed and not allowed in any particular state. Other factors to consider in caregiver job descriptions are the client’s specific needs, diagnoses and medical conditions, age, and living situation. Agency, private, and child-caregiver job descriptions will differ, and we will show you how.
What Should You Make Sure to Include in a Caregiver Job Description?
You should make sure to include specific conditions and requirements in a caregiver job description, regardless of whether it’s a private hire or agency hire. The definition of caregiver duties varies according to the state where they practice and the client’s needs.
1. Background check and drug screening
An agency, online company, or private person can require a background check and/or drug screening. If this is a requirement, does the caregiver, employer, or agency pay for it? A nursing home or home health agency may have to meet state laws regarding the condition of background checks for employment.
If you can, find a credit and background reporting agency that the Professional Background Screening Association accredits. Also consider whether you want to include driving history and employment verification. If a caregiver is not willing to comply with these requirements, move on to someone else.
2. Experience and certification requirements
Once again, states differ in terms of their requirements for training or certification. Much depends on what tasks you expect from the caregiver. For example, a caregiver may need to be a certified nursing assistant (CNA) to perform specific medical duties allowed by their state.
In other situations, your job description may simply state that the caregiver only needs to meet the minimum state requirements to provide non-medical tasks, such as bathing, dressing, cooking, running errands, and companionship.
Experience may include, but is not limited to, working with dementia patients and people with certain medical conditions, operating a Hoyer patient lift, complying with specific dietary requirements, or working with children.
3. Reliable transportation
If you need a caregiver to provide transportation to a client, it is reasonable to ask if they have a reliable and available vehicle. So is requesting a copy of their driver’s license and requiring a driving history report.
Most caregivers, whether they work independently or through an agency, work for multiple clients. If you need a caregiver for specific days and times, that should be part of the job description. Hiring someone who isn’t available when you most need them is counterproductive and doesn’t meet the needs of the client or family.
Caregiver Job Description for Private In-Home Help
Private, in-home help is different because, to some extent, caregivers are at liberty to perform whatever duties they feel comfortable with. State laws or agency requirements do not constrain their duties, except when it comes to medical care.
A job description for private help should be precise regarding medically oriented caregiver duties. Just because a private caregiver says they can perform a task doesn’t mean they should, or that the law permits it.
1. Medical duties
A job description for hiring private in-home help needs to include any medical duties, and the more detailed, the better. Some medical tasks can be performed by a family member or private caregiver, while others have to be performed by a trained nurse or care provider.
Some possible tasks that may not require medical training (but do require some knowledge and experience with these tasks) include helping with a catheter or feeding tube, dispensing medications, performing blood sugar checks, and giving simple injections.
2. Activities of daily living experience and duties
A job description for in-home help and private caregiving should include the need for activities of daily living (ADL) assistance. ADL includes help with transferring, operating a patient lift, preparing meals, and helping someone dress, bathe, and toilet.
3. Hours and days required
When hiring a private caregiver, the job description should include the hours needed. In some cases, there might be a requirement for overnight or 24-hour care. State law may dictate the number of hours a caregiver can work per shift, as well as hourly and overtime payment. It is strongly recommended that anyone hiring in-home private caregiving abide by state laws.
Caregiver Job Description for Agencies
Caregiver agencies must abide by state regulations that dictate what caregivers can and can’t do. Many families expect an agency caregiver to perform tasks that are outside their scope of practice. So, a job description must outline the caregiver’s requirements. Most agencies across the country require a background check, and many also ask for a drug screening.
1. Experience as a caregiver
The experience could be professional, or it could be personal experience with a family member. For companionship and custodial duties like cooking, cleaning, transportation, etc., many agencies will accept someone without professional experience. If more medical tasks are needed, the agency may ask for a certified nursing assistant (CNA).
2. Nutrition and hydration requirements
Many clients and families who hire in-home caregivers have specific nutrition and hydration needs. Caregivers might need to prepare special diets such as diabetic, mechanical soft, or others. Dehydration is a significant concern for older adults, and a caregiver description might ask for experience related to hydration requirements or liquid supplementation.
3. Experience with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
Clients with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease make up a large portion of people who need caregiving. A job description with an agency will likely ask for experience in this area. Specifically, an agency will want to know if a caregiver has dealt with challenging behaviors, wandering, and safety issues.
4. Emergency procedures and CPR
Most agencies will require that an employee have CPR training. In addition, they may include in the job description experience in emergencies.
5. Driver’s license and reliable transportation
Not every client needs transportation, but many do. Having a valid and current driver’s license will probably be required. Even if a caregiver doesn’t have their own car, they can drive the client’s car with a driver’s license.
Caregiver Job Description for Long-Term Care Facilities
Long-term care facilities like nursing homes rely heavily on caregiving staff to serve residents. In fact, Certified Nursing Aides (CNAs) or resident attendants do most of the day-to-day work in nursing homes.
1. Certified nursing aide requirement or resident attendant
Many nursing homes require caregiving staff to be CNAs to perform medical duties like checking vital signs and administering medications under a nurse’s supervision. But nursing homes also hire resident attendants who do the work of toileting, changing, bathing and cleaning but aren’t qualified to provide any medical assistance.
Due to significant staff shortages in long-term care, experience may be waived. On-the-job training in a nursing home is not unusual in lieu of long-term care work history.
Caregiver Job Description for Children
Working with children is a unique category due to concerns over safety and vulnerability. Children require careful and responsible caregiving, and a job description will ask for expertise and training in specific areas.
1. CPR and first aid certification
CPR and first aid certification are crucial requirements to work with children. Children are more likely to have accidents. Injuries and falls are significant causes of death and hospitalizations for children. Being certified in CPR and first aid will most likely be in the job description.
2. Certification in early childcare development
A job description may ask for some kind of training in working with children, such as certification or degree in childhood development. In other cases, experience working with children and references may be enough.
3. Criminal background and drug test
A criminal background check and drug test may be required before beginning employment. Federal law requires all states to implement criminal background checks that include fingerprints for child care providers.
4. Physical requirements
A childcare job description might require someone to lift up to 40 pounds or more for employment. Other physical abilities include bending, standing, and sitting for long periods. Caregiving for children takes stamina and energy.
5. Personality characteristics
Working with children doesn’t involve only keeping them safe, although that is the top priority. A job description for a child caregiver may also ask about other skills such as communication, compassion, ability to play and stimulate, creativity, and interpersonal skills.
Private and Agency Caregiver Job Descriptions
Professional caregivers are the foundation of care for our elders and children. Caregivers work in people’s homes, in long-term care, and in senior living across the country. Job descriptions must comply with state and federal laws as well as meet the needs of the client.