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January 6, 2022
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Caregiver Resources

What is a Caregiver? Types of Caregiver – Everything You Need to Know

A caregiver is someone who takes care of another person because the other person needs help with daily activities or has an illness or disability. A caregiver can be a family member, friend, spouse, partner, neighbor, paid worker in your home or community – just about anyone who takes responsibility for your care.

Most caregivers have no special training or experience to support their role. In fact, most start with almost no information or guidance to help them provide the care that’s needed. However, after a while, they figure out what works and what doesn’t from their own experiences. Similarly, they also learn from talking to others who are in similar situations. Just as you will learn from reading this blog.

Some caregivers are struggling with feelings of anger, resentment, guilt, or frustration which can make caring for others very difficult indeed. For example, if your loved one has Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). It is not unusual for you to feel angry about giving up many of your normal activities.

Types of Caregivers

There are three major types of caregivers:

  • Primary caregiver
  • Informal caregiver
  • Professional caregiver

The primary caregiver is usually a spouse or other family member who spends the most time helping someone. An informal caregiver is another relative who does not live with the person being cared for but helps out often.

A professional caregiver provides care to people in their home (for example, an aide) or in hers (a nursing assistant). Other paid workers come into your community to help you (for instance, at school). Your father might be your primary caregiver while his brother might act as the informal one; however, both take responsibility for your care.

Primary Caregiver & Family caregiver

A primary caregiver is a person who provides care for another during an extended period of time. This can be due to illness, addiction, or other disability issues. The word primary caregiver most often refers to the person responsible for daily tasks such as buying groceries, cooking meals, washing clothes, etc.

A secondary caregiver provides support primarily during times when the primary caregiver is unavailable. This includes temporarily inability to perform duties due to illness or injury.

A primary caregiver can also be a relative or friend that assumes responsibility for caring for someone they are not biologically related to. If they are not biologically related, they are most likely not legally responsible for the individual’s welfare.

A primary caregiver is an example of someone who assumes responsibility to act in another person’s best interest. They make decisions on their behalf when possible and provide them with services such as medical care, medication administration, food preparation, transportation, housekeeping/laundry, finances management (bills), etc.

Primary caregivers often have to advocate for their loved ones despite being at a disadvantage due to a lack of knowledge about laws surrounding disabilities.

Secondary Caregiver & Family Members

The difference between the two types of caregivers i.e. primary and secondary is the degree to which they share in the daily responsibilities.

Primary caregivers take on most, if not all, of the responsibility for caring for a loved one.  They might be responsible for administering medication and doctor’s appointments and cleaning and cooking meals, as well as just offering companionship and emotional support. Secondary or occasional caregivers only assist with these tasks occasionally or when someone else isn’t available.

The duties of both primary and secondary caregivers may vary based on provider availability, family dynamics, social connections, financial resources, geographic location, and other factors.

Professional Caregivers or DSP Caregiver (Direct Support Professional)

The direct support professional caregiver is a unique role that has become more popular as the aging population continues to grow. Direct support professionals come from all walks of life and they closely work with those who need assistance with activities performed every day such as eating, bathing, grooming, toileting, and transferring. These are duties that can be considered basic human needs because everyone must do them daily to remain independent.

Before working with caregivers, look for certain qualities caregivers must have.

Many people think of home health aides or nurses when they hear the term “caregiver.” However, the caregiving profession goes beyond these titles and there are other professions that provide direct services to clients in order for them to meet their daily living needs. Personal care assistants, homemakers/housekeepers, adult daycare workers, home health aids, and direct support professionals are all considered part of the same profession. Some people choose to specialize in one area while others work as a combination of two or more titles.

So what exactly does a direct care worker do?

They may assist clients with dressing, bathing, grooming, mobility (transferring), meal preparation, and planning activities for the day. Depending on where they work (e.g. hospital vs. home) they might also need to carry out clerical tasks such as handling mail, balancing checkbooks, and working with financial institutions to pay bills, etc.

Respite Caregiver Background Check

According to the latest Caregiver Background Check Survey, 37 percent of families said they were willing to perform their own caregiver background check. Either online or through traditional methods like a phone call – before hiring someone new. That number has trended steadily upward since 2007 when just 24 percent did an informal search on their prospective employees.

A caregiver background check is a process of checking the criminal record and personal history of an individual who has been chosen to take care of patients or elders. It is necessary for people with eldercare responsibilities. The reason is most abuse committed against vulnerable adults happens by someone they know.

Caregiver background checks are done to ensure candidates do not have a prior criminal history, especially those related to elder abuse.

What is a Private Caregiver?

Private caregivers may be employed by an agency or they can work independently for clients on a contractual basis. Usually, a background in health care is not required to become a private caregiver.

Private Caregivers have various levels of responsibilities depending on the needs of their clients. The minimum requirements are that they assist with daily living activities including mobility issues, bathing, dressing, grooming, and toileting.

They can provide transportation to appointments if needed and offer companionship. This may include watching television or going for walks. They help people who need assistance with grocery shopping or preparing meals as well.

Some private caregivers hold specializations in elder care, such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

What is a Lay Caregiver?

In general, a lay caregiver is a family member or friend of the patient who helps them during the day on a daily basis. They are very common in Alzheimer’s patients, where they can help manage behaviors and remind their loved ones of important events and medication times.

Lay caregivers can also be helpful with children who have medical conditions that require extra care. Lay caregivers may not have formal medical training and therefore they should check in with their family doctor before administering any medicine to the patient.

What is HHA Caregiver?

An HHA, or home health attendant, is a caregiver that helps patients in their own homes. They are also referred to as home health aides or personal care assistants (PCAs). Some states use one term while others may use another.

HHA caregivers provide non-medical home care for people needing assistance with daily living activities or personal care including routine housekeeping duties, meal preparation, transportation, and companionship. HHA caregivers may also provide respite relief for family members who need some time away from their everyday responsibilities involving their loved ones.

MMJ Caregiver

A caregiver who may legally be allowed to purchase medical marijuana on your patient’s behalf at one of the state sanctioned dispensaries. This is only allowed under strict checks, with approvals from authorities, and under special medical circumstances.

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