What are the Different Types of Caregivers?

Looking to procure a caregiver for a loved one? Between deciding amongst the myriad of home care agencies and selecting the appropriate type of attendant, hiring a private caregiver can feel overwhelming.

There are several different types of caregivers who provide services to older adults and individuals with disabilities and age related medical conditions.  Family members often take on the role of primary caregiver for a loved one while receiving no financial reimbursement, but when that role is no longer feasible, a person becomes faced with the difficult decision of whom to entrust with their loved one’s precious care.

Caregiver and ClientWhen making the decision to obtain a fee for service caregiver, it is important to understand the distinction in the varieties of caregivers a majority of home care agencies offer.  Companions, certified nurse aides (CNA), certified home health aides (CHHA) and nurses (LPN, RN) are common in-home service professionals.

Companions are not permitted to physically give any hands-on assistance to their clients but can perform homemaking duties (meal preparation, laundry, linen changes, light housekeeping, etc.) and may transport clients on community outings (i.e. the grocery store, doctor appointments).

In addition to being capable of providing the same services as a companion, Certified Aides also render hands-on care, such as assistance with bathing, hygiene, dressing, and ambulation.  Usually, the main contributing factor in choosing either a certified aide or a companion is the individual’s need for hands on physical assistance with activities of daily living.  Neither certified aides nor companions are allowed to organize or dispense medication, only give prompting to a client to take prescriptions.

Nurses fulfill the widest range of care duties since they possess the aptitude to conduct tasks of CNA combined with prefilling medication boxes, administering insulin, enteral feeding, intravenous medications, wound care, changing catheters and applying ordered ointments.

When selecting a home care agency, it is advisable to ensure the company conducts background checks on all employees, provides worker’s compensation and is licensed, bonded and insured.  Maintaining in frequent contact and having open communication between the family and caregiving agency hired allows the family to keep abreast of their loved one’s status and be involved in the plan of care. Check with friends, family, geriatric care coordinators, case managers and social workers in your area for referrals to agencies with whom they have had positive experiences.

Below is a link to the NJ Department of Health and Senior Services website which outlines care options for senior and access to public benefits: