Most caregivers would agree that their jobs are incredibly rewarding. Knowing you’re making a direct impact on the life of a senior is a major reason people enter the profession. But like any career, the day-to-day job duties can be great, but the people you work for aren’t always so amazing. It can be difficult to keep doing something you love when the working conditions are poor, and caregiving work is no exception. That’s why it’s so important to know what to look for in a caregiving job before you accept the position.
Whether you choose to be employed as a private caregiver or apply with an in-home care agency, there are a few things that can help determine if the work environment is going to set you up for success. In this article, we’ll discuss five key things to look for if you want to find a great caregiving job and some questions you can ask to give you a better idea of what you’re getting into.
Stability & consistency
One of the questions many people fail to ask when interviewing for a new position is, “How long have you been in business?” While being a start-up doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not going to be a good job, typically the longer a business has been around the better. Established businesses have worked out their systems and processes (see the next section) and have figured out the best way to do things. As an employee, that consistency will make your job much easier. And if they’ve been in business a decent amount of time and have good rapport with the community, that typically means you won’t have to worry about job security.
If you’re applying for a position as a private caregiver, stability and consistency can be determined by asking how many caregivers the family has had before and how long they’ve stayed. It may be a red flag if caregivers have come and gone quickly. You may also want to ask if you’ll be dealing with the same point person throughout your work. If there are a lot of family members that will be managing you, that inconsistency could be confusing and lead to issues.
Good systems & processes
As discussed above, having good systems and processes for how things are done is another quality to look for in a caregiving job. If there’s confusion or unclear expectations about how to care for clients, what to do in an emergency, or even things like how to ask for vacation time, it can be difficult to work with that employer – no matter how much you may like the client work.
The first time you’ll discover whether they have good systems and processes is during the interview process. Does the employer respond in a timely manner? Have they outlined what the process will be like in terms of background checks, reference checks, number of interviews, etc.? Being organized is crucial to having employees, whether it’s an agency or just a family caregiver hiring someone privately. Caregiving is a very detail-oriented process, so it isn’t a great sign if those responsible for the client(s) aren’t organized.
While there are certainly people who want to hire private caregivers “under the table,” that way of doing things doesn’t always work out so well for the caregiver. You’d be responsible for any taxes, and if something happened to you on the job without workers comp insurance, you could end up unable to work and make a living.
Agencies also need to be up to date on all of their legal obligations, like being bonded and licensed. A good agency will provide you with workers comp insurance as well as medical insurance, so you’re covered if anything happens. Be sure to ask any potential employers if you’ll be provided with insurance, and in the case of an agency, look up their license information with the state.
There’s a lot to know about caring for the elderly, and even if you have years of experience, there’s always something new to learn. A great employer will provide opportunities for you to expand your skillset and learn better ways to help your clients. At an agency, this takes the form of training and continuing education programs. At Sequoia Senior Solutions, our caregivers can take courses that correspond to our eight specialty programs. As they complete courses they earn more money per hour and are better able to care for their clients.
Even if you’re working for a family as a private caregiver, you may still want to negotiate some time off to take online courses or perhaps attend a conference so you can keep your skills sharp. A good employer will want you to be at the top of your game when it comes to caring for their loved one.
At the end of the day, you’re in the business of caring and your employer should be, too! As a caregiver, you’re expected to treat your clients with compassion and respect. Ideally, your employer will treat you the same way. If it’s a business, check online reviews from previous and current staff members. It’s not quite as easy if you’re being employed as a private caregiver, but you can gather some impressions during the interview process to help you determine if your potential employer will be pleasant to work for.
You can never be 100% sure that any job you take is going to be great, but there are things to look for that can increase your chances of it being a good fit. It’s important that you and your employer share the same values and can build a trusting relationship with open communication. Then you’ll be able to focus your attention on what matters – being the best caregiver you can be!
If you’re ready to learn more about becoming a caregiver with Sequoia Senior Solutions, visit our “Becoming a Caregiver” section and fill out our interest form today. You can also read more about professional caregiving in our recent blog posts: