What is a Caregiver?

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: January 5, 2022  •  8 min read  •  Health
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Defining what a caregiver is, might seem simple. You might think it’s simply someone that provides care for someone else. However, the term “caregiver” goes further than just such a simple definition.

The actual definition of the term from Merriam-Webster is, “a person who provides direct care (as for children, elderly people, or the chronically ill).” This is too simple, however. Let’s take a more in-depth look at what a caregiver is.

What is a Caregiver?

What is a Caregiver?

The answer to this question, in more depth, includes home health aides, personal care aides, and those providing care to someone that cannot care for themselves. Caregivers may also be called carers. Commonly, caregivers take care of the elderly, those with a physical disability, the ill, the injured, or those with a mental disability.

A caregiver often works in the home of the client. They may also work in a care facility. While family members can be caregivers for their relatives, in this article, we are going to focus on those working as caregivers and getting paid for their services.

Common tasks caregivers perform include:

Depending on the type of person you care for, you may perform all of these tasks and even more.

Most Common Types of Caregivers

There are several different types of caregivers. If you’re considering becoming a caregiver, you should understand the different options. Below is a look at some of the most common types of caregivers you will find.

Professional Caregivers

A broad term to describe pretty much any caregiver getting paid for the job, professional caregivers come in many types. They are hired to provide non-medical and medical support for clients.

Most professional caregivers will work with an agency. They will be hired through the agency by a household to provide individual or group care. Commonly, this type of caregiver will work in an assisted living facility, nursing homes, or rehabilitation centers.

Skilled Nursing Faculty Caregiver

This type of caregiver will work to provide short or long-term medical services for their clients. They are very involved in the daily routine of those they work with. Often, skilled nursing facility caregivers will work in nursing homes or rehabilitation centers.

Assisted Living Facility Caregiver

This type of caregiver will provide support for patients at an assisted living facility. They will focus on providing a community atmosphere for those in the facility. Often, they will organize and help facilitate social activities.

Respite Caregivers

A caregiver that helps to relieve the primary caregiver is known as a respite caregiver. They will often take over for a family member when they need help or a break. A respite caregiver may provide care for one or two hours a day or for several weeks within the home of the client or as a special day center or healthcare center.

Independent Caregiver

While many caregivers work through an agency, some are independent caregivers. These caregivers don’t work for an agency. Often, they work directly for a client in the home.

Private Duty Home Caregiver

This type of caregiver works in the client’s home. They may even live in the home to provide around-the-clock care. If you work as a private duty home caregiver, you will help to make living as easy as possible for your client.

Specialized Caregivers

As a specialized caregiver, you will work with clients with specific needs. you might specialize in cancer care or care for another type of chronic condition. It’s also possible to specialize in working with patients with spinal injuries.

Voluntary Caregiver

If you volunteer as a caregiver, you are a voluntary caregiver. This is the type of person that provides care without any monetary compensation.

Family Caregiver

Those caregivers offering care for family members are known as family caregivers. These are often spouses, parents, or children taking care of their elderly parents.

Senior Caregivers

Also known as elder care providers, senior caregivers offer help to elderly parents. They may work with those suffering from dementia, as well. It’s common for this type of caregiver to work in a retirement home, sheltered housing facility, or in the client’s home.

There are several types of caregivers. If you want to become a caregiver, consider the type you’d like to be before getting the necessary training.

Job Duties of a Caregiver

Caregivers will likely have different types of job duties based on the type of caregiver they are. Some of the most common job duties include:

These duties, along with many others, might be common to your job as a caregiver.

How to Become a Caregiver

Becoming a caregiver will require you to complete high school or get your GED. You won’t need a degree, but you will need to meet a few basic requirements including:

If you want to become a caregiver, it’s common to earn a CNA certification. It’s also common to complete CPR and first-aid training. Getting some work experience can help, as well. You may have to work as a volunteer before you can work as a caregiver.

Frequently Asked Questions About Caregivers

How much can I earn as a caregiver?

Most people don’t go into this type of career for the money. It’s not a high-paying career. According to PayScale.com, caregivers often earn a medical pay of about $12.089 per hour. The range can go from $9.30 to $16.52 per hour. Some caregivers will earn bonuses, as well.

Indeed.com has the average hourly pay at a bit of a higher rate of $13.59 per hour. Some employers will pay a higher wage. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs comes in with the highest average salary of $21.82 per hour.

Your location will help to determine your pay, as well. Los Angeles, Portland, Phoenix, Colorado Springs, and Tucson all pay a higher-than-average rate per hour.

The right certifications and skills can help you earn more, too. A nurse Delegation Certificate is one of the best options for a higher hourly rate. You can also earn more if you’re a home care aide certification.

Those specializing in dementia care or autism care may also earn a higher wage. Home health caregivers also tend to earn a bit more than average.

What type of benefits will I get as a caregiver?

The most common benefits caregivers receive from employers include health insurance and a 401(k). It’s also rather common to get vision and dental insurance, paid time off, mileage reimbursement, and a flexible schedule.

Are caregivers in high demand right now?

Yes, with an aging population and the recent pandemic situation, caregivers are in very high demand. This type of job is expected to grow by about 36% over the next ten years. It may grow even more due to the pandemic and more people in need of care.

What type of work environment is common for a caregiver?

The work environment can vary from a healthcare facility to a nursing home to a private residence. It will depend on the type of caregiver you become and where you want to work. Many caregivers work in the homes of their clients, while others work in nursing homes, respite care facilities, or rehabilitation centers.

What type of hours do caregivers work?

You may work full-time for one client or you may work for multiple clients. Most caregivers work more than 40 hours a week. Respite caregivers may work fewer hours and work for more clients, however.

Some caregivers work 24/7 within the home of one client. However, they may be given breaks by respite caregivers during each day and week.

If you want to help people, becoming a caregiver is a great career option. Now that you understand what a caregiver is and the different types, you can look into the training you might need. Most caregivers won’t need a college degree, but it can be helpful, in some cases.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path. I, personally, am the high school dropout son of two teacher parents. So how did I get here? That story is coming soon!