Caregiver training is a vital part of becoming a caregiver with the expertise and confidence to help clients and loved ones. As a professional caregiver, you may decide to become certified to have more employment options and perform more complex duties. As a family caregiver, you may be thrust unexpectedly into a caregiver role that may leave you feeling unprepared.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Free Caregiver Training With Certificates
- Free Professional Development Resources for Caregivers
- Frequently Asked Questions: Online Caregiver Training
Family caregivers provide most of the care in the U.S., and the professional caregiving industry is growing to meet the needs of families that desperately need help. Certification for professional and family caregivers is the same process and is dictated by state requirements. Professional development for these two groups is very similar.
Whether you are a professional or family caregiver, continuing to learn and sharpen your skills is a valuable endeavor. There is often more than one way to do the same thing safely. Some family caregivers do decide to become certified nursing assistants. Doing so can help improve their skills and in addition to giving other family members confidence that they know what they are doing. If you are in a position as a caregiver looking to learn more, here are some places to continue learning.
Free Caregiver Training With Certificates
Certification types and requirements differ in each state. For one thing, professional caregivers in one state might be prohibited from performing specific tasks. The other factor is dependent on where you want to work as a caregiver. Some nursing homes and assisted living communities require that you have a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) designation.
Finding free certificate training to become a CNA might be a challenge, but basic caregiver certification training is available for free. The complicating term is certification, a term which is governed by the states.
My CNAjobs.com website offers online courses for caregiver certification training in a variety of areas, including:
- Infection control
- Nutrition and food safety
- Patient rights and responsibilities
- Activities of daily living (ADLs)
- The fundamentals of caregiving
- Preventing elder abuse
- Fall prevention
- End-of-life care
- Memory loss
Although CNAjobs.com offers free training, their main focus is on pairing professional caregivers with caregiver agencies.
2. Job sites
If you are looking for a professional caregiving job and need certification, caregiver agencies are the best place to look. Hundreds of caregiver agencies, assisted living communities, and home health agencies are looking for certified caregivers. The healthcare industry competes for certified caregivers, so many companies may offer free certification training if you agree to work for them.
Most caregiving agencies are franchises that are individually owned and operated but are also supported by the national organization. If the company you are interested in offers free certification, ask about their continued training beyond certification. You will want a company that takes care of its employees by raising the education standards for all of their caregivers. Continuing education should be an ongoing part of any employment.
Free Professional Development Resources for Caregivers
There may be no such thing as too many resources for caregivers. As a professional caregiver, the company you work for will have some training, but it might be limited. The more you know about caregiving and your requisite caregiving duties, the easier and safer your job will be. Reviewing the information on caregiving from reliable sites can also help give you valuable insight into better serving your clients.
In fact, some professional caregivers decide to go on and become registered nurses. For family caregivers, knowing caregiver resources can help lessen your stress and build your confidence. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel.
3. The Alzheimer’s Association
Whether you are a professional or family caregiver, you may be dealing with Alzheimer’s or dementia. The symptoms and behaviors of dementia are challenging and also very individual. The Alzheimer’s Association is the best source for most things related to dementia, and you can find local resources as well. They have a page devoted to training and education. Some of the topics they cover are the following:
- Communication techniques
- Legal and financial issues
- Stages of Alzheimer’s
- Understanding dementia behaviors
- Food and eating
- Dental care
4. Caregiver Action Network
Caregiver Action Network has tips and hands-on videos for caregivers. The Caregiver Action Network is a non-profit organization providing education, peer support, and resources to family caregivers free of charge.
5. The Family Caregiver Alliance
The Family Caregiver Alliance has webinars, but they also have a large array of caregiver education topics on specific conditions. As a caregiver, knowing more about the condition of the person you are caring for helps you empathize and be better able to provide effective care.
A few of the topics they cover are Parkinson’s, blindness, other sight impairments, depression, dementia, and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
mmLearn.org is an online program spun off of the Elizabeth McGown Training Institute. While a lot of the learning is geared toward training employees within the Morningside Ministries senior living communities, there are many videos for caregivers to review and continue their education.
mmLearn also has videos on some more difficult topics such as substance abuse, living in a nursing home, sexuality, and aging, and wound care, just to name a few.
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You might think of AARP as only an organization that services people over 50 with discounts and fun activities.
However, AARP has a serious and helpful caregiver resource page with up to date information on caregiving education and training. And if you are the kind of person who enjoys data, AARP’s Public Policy Institute researches long-term care services, nursing homes, and the future of work for older Americans.
8. Class Central
Class Central aggregates classes from several sources, and they make money through advertising and affiliate links.
All of this means that the classes are free to you. They have courses in introduction to caregiving for older adults and several courses on palliative care.
9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The CDC also offers training for healthcare professionals, and also provides extensive instructions and information related to caregiving and COVID-19. For caregivers dealing with memory care, they also have a section on their site about caregiving for people with Alzheimer’s disease.
The CDC also has information about caregiving and infection control, care planning, caregiving activities, emergency preparedness for caregivers, and their loved ones. Should you be in need, they also have a vast library of information on medical conditions to acquaint yourself with specific medical problems. They offer free healthcare training webinars. The CDC website is so huge, it can be a bit of a challenge to navigate.
10. MyCNAjobs.com videos
This is the same site as above with a series of videos. You do have to put in your email address to proceed to the free videos. CNAjobs.com pairs employers with professional caregivers. They also offer CEU’s to healthcare professionals who need them. The videos available for free are:
- A day in the life of a home health aide
- Hand washing
- Foot care
- What are activities of daily living
- Patient rights
- Aggression in people with dementia
- Preventing falls
- Turning a person in bed
- Transferring to a wheelchair
- Dental hygiene
11. Caregiver blogs
Caregiver blogs are a great way to get informal advice and instruction from other family caregivers. Most caregiver blogs and forums are centered around specific medical problems like dementia, Parkinson’s, cancer, or Multiple Sclerosis.
The one caveat with caregiver blogs is that you won’t always know if the information is valid. Approach these sites with open eyes and a measure of caution.
12. The National Institutes for Health
The National Institutes for Health (NIH) is for those willing to dig deep in research. Making policy and other legislative decisions that affect caregivers is often based on research.
NIH highlights the struggles and needs of caregiving through grants. NIH is the primary agency of the United States government responsible for public health research. It is now part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
13. National Institute on Aging (NIA)
NIA is a much easier website to navigate for any caregiver who wants to increase their knowledge of caring for clients or family members.
Don’t be fooled by the first page of options. For example under long-term care, the site takes you to a whole series of topics related to the subject matter.
14. UCLA Health
UCLA Health has an impressive and informative library of dementia caregiver webinars, and all for free.
They cover topics like driving and dementia, medications and dementia, caregiver stress and depression, and addiction and aging. And these are just a few of the webinars they have to offer. They also have caregiver support group information.
HealthinAging is a site that focuses more on information for caregivers rather than hands-on education. HealthinAging is a program of the American Geriatrics Society’s Health in Aging Foundation.
Some of their topics include caregiving’s financial costs, caregiver health, a guide to caregiving tips, being the best caregiver, and avoiding caregiver burnout. The program also helps families find geriatric health specialists in their area.
Frequently Asked Questions: Online Caregiver Training
When you consider becoming a certified caregiver or you want to improve your caregiving skills, you may question whether online training has the same benefits as in-person training. Some states require in-person training in addition to the online educational portion, while other states will allow you to do it online only. Below are some questions to keep in mind when reviewing options to learn online.
What’s the difference between in-person and online caregiver training?
The difference between in-person and online caregiver training may have more to do with the person taking the classes than the quality of the training itself. As with any kind of clinical practice, there are good in-person and online caregiver training options and bad ones.
It is also worth noting your personal preference regarding your learning style and schedule. Moreover, your state will tailor certification classes to meet those requirements. Let’s take a closer look at some of the differences between the two.
In-person caregiver training
In-person training allows you to practice skills such as transfers, dressing, toileting, and mobility with a live person. The trainer can correct mistakes in real-time and make suggestions to improve skills. In addition, a classroom environment is dynamic in that you can ask questions. Some people prefer the camaraderie of a group experience where you can interact with other students and have discussions.
However, even if you prefer in-person training, the available classes may not be at times that are convenient for you. Also depending upon where you live, you may need to travel a distance to get to a class.
Online caregiver training
Very convenient and accessible since classes are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you work or have other responsibilities, you can easily fit classes into your busy schedule.
Although the concepts may be explained well, you won’t have the opportunity to ask questions or demonstrate the skills. With that said, you can begin work as a caregiver in some cases while working on your certification.
Do all caregiver courses come with a certificate?
Not all caregiver courses come with a certificate. Many family caregivers unexpectedly have to perform complex caregiver tasks with no training. Online classes are a lifeline of support for these unpaid caregivers who may have little idea how to safely administer shots, do catheter care, change bandages, and a host of other tasks.
Even paid caregivers often take advantage of some of these courses to increase or refresh their skills. In some cases, if caregivers and their loved ones meet specific criteria, they are paid by the state to a caregiver for a family member. In these situations, the family caregiver does not have to have a certificate but may want to know more about specific caregiving skills.
How do free online caregiver courses compare with ones you have to pay for?
The quality of free online caregiver courses may be comparable to ones you purchase. The main difference is that the ones you pay for might be specialized to meet certification requirements. For example, if you want to tout your skills working primarily with people who have dementia, you can get a dementia care certification.
The same holds for Parkinson’s disease or diabetes care. For professional caregivers who want to work primarily in hospice care, The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization offers various paid classes specializing in end-of-life care.
It could be challenging to assess the quality of classes without specific recommendations or guidance from other caregivers or professionals in the field. Try your best to find reviews of classes and, if possible, look to respected organizations such as the American Red Cross.
What can you actually do with a certificate? Are they worth it?
Many states require a certificate to work as a professionally paid caregiver, so you may have no choice but to acquire one. If you are a caregiver on the open market and don’t want to work for an agency, you can skirt state certification laws, but that is not recommended. In these situations, having specialty training and certification enhances your marketability, and you can negotiate a higher salary.
If you are a family caregiver, getting a certification is unnecessary and may not be worth the additional cost. However, if your loved one is paying you as a family member to be their caregiver, having the certification may give comfort to other family members about your competency.
Learning Through Online Caregiver Training
Caregiver training, whether you are family or professional, is more than just learning techniques. No matter your relationship and closeness to your loved one, caregiving can be stressful, complicated, and challenging. Reading up on caregiving and watching videos can help you stay on your toes. The more you know, the better prepared you will be.