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Be Aware of Caregiver Skills

At some point in our lives, we are all likely to need someone to help with our care, or the care of a loved one. When the situation arises, we may find help from a family member, a connection through our church or friend group, or local agency. Whatever the case, not all caregivers are equal in their skills and knowledge, just as not all teachers or doctors or electricians are equally skilled in all areas of their crafts. Some teachers are reading or math specialists. Some doctors are cardiologists or orthopedists. And some electricians work in the commercial industry or residential arena.

We typically think we can hire someone to do whatever it is we want them to do, and we expect that if they are offering services, then they are skilled to perform those services

In the state of Virginia, there are two categories of care services. One is Companion Care and the other is Personal Care. It’s easy to understand the differences if we simplify them to mean “hands-off care” versus “hands-on care”. In this example, Companion Care is hands off, and Personal Care is hands on. That means that if your family member needs someone to hand them bathing supplies or clothing, they would need Companion Care, “hands-off”. Likewise, if your family member needs to be bathed or dressed, they would need Personal Care, “hands-on”.  In Virginia, anyone providing Personal Care is required to be licensed by the state’s licensing agency. This license requires completing a process involving having a nurse on staff, an office, etc. Companion Care does not require a license.

Now, if that isn’t confusing enough, caregivers may also have additional credentials. They may have specialized training as a PCA-Personal Care Aide, or a CNA-Certified Nursing Assistant, etc. There are other credentials as well, but these are most common. These credentials require additional training that is either provided by an agency or a school program, and the hours of training varies depending on the credential.

Always be aware of the skill of the person you are hiring, and make sure you understand what they can and cannot do for you! Not all caregivers are equal, not all know the same things, and not all have the same experience. Be a smart and wise consumer. Ask questions. Check references. Setup a trial period for them to demonstrate what they know. Have another family member involved for an added perspective.

Cardinal Care, LLC, provides Companion Care. We are not licensed to provide Personal Care. I have had to refer many client’s elsewhere because we cannot legally provide the level of care needed. However, I have also been able to help many families by enhancing the independence of their family member so less care is needed. This is always exciting for me! I usually get a phone call saying a loved one can no longer get in the bathtub and needs help to bathe, only to find out that by making recommendations for some changes in equipment or safety strategies, the client can then get in & out of the tub independently or with supervision. The client is thrilled they can remain independent and the family is pleased the care will cost much less than expected! Success! Cardinal Care, LLC, can also train caregivers chosen by a family, or help update their knowledge if a change has occurred in a client’s health. Give us a call or check out our website for more information about the services we can offer!

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