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 Education & Consultation. Our Occupational Therapist supports each family differently. We begin with a conversation and lots of listening. It is important for our therapist to gain a clear picture of each situation. Together, we discuss challenges that are most impactful and then work toward solutions important to the family and their loved one.
It is common, at Cardinal Care, to receive a phone call saying a loved one can no longer get in the bathtub and needs help to bathe. During a consultation, we may determine a caregiver is feeling insecure with their skills and would like additional training. Or we may find that a piece of equipment is being used incorrectly. Or, there may be the need for a formal Occupational Therapy assessment. Oftentimes, the problem turns out to have a simple solution and their loved one is thrilled to be independent again! Success! Families report that working with our Occupational Therapist enhances the independence of their family member! And gives the entire family a sense of hope despite the situation they face. Creating the proper fit between caregiver and loved one is our pleasure!