Resources for Finding a Caregiver & Caregiver Support
If you or anyone within your workforce is caring for an aging or ill loved one, the shortage of caregivers is likely at the forefront of your mind. According to U.S. News and World Report, the need for home care continues to rise, with millions of patients requiring caregivers, while the caregiving workforce continues to drop. Not only is in-home care expensive, but caregivers are very difficult to find. Thankfully, as the shortage looms and needs rise, states and independent organizations are working diligently to create incentives and opportunities to help.
Many states offer programs that pay a loved one already providing care. Pennsylvania’s waiver program allows any family member or friend to apply for payment for providing care. The only exception is that they may not also be the care recipient’s power of attorney. The meager pay, between $11.00 and $14.00/hour, can make a difference for those already out of work due to caregiving. States with similar programs include:
- New Jersey
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
If you’re caring for a veteran who qualifies for the Veteran-Directed Care Program, help is available. Veterans in the program may choose a willing participant to be their caregiver. The VDCP will provide the salary for the selected caregiver. Depending on location, caregivers will receive between $8 and $21/hour. Currently, more than 40 states participate in this program.
If you’re able to pay directly for a caregiver, or have already secured the funds to do so, you can use the Eldercare Locator, which provides direct information for organizations and caregivers within your community. Other resources, such as Care.com, list profiles and availability of caregivers within your area.
Often, family members, friends, or even neighbors are interested in providing care but haven’t received training to be qualified to do so. If someone in your care recipient’s life is interested in helping, there are programs available to help.
Calgrows, a relatively new program through the California Department of Aging, in conjunction with the California Center for Independent Living, offers financial incentives of up to $6,000 for caregivers who participate in their free training programs and who intend to be paid to perform caregiving duties in home and community settings. The trainings, created by organizations such as Givers Health, offer detailed sessions on performing tasks such as bathing patients or providing end-of-life care. For those needing qualified caregivers, this program means that a friend, neighbor, or loved one who hasn’t been formally trained but wants to can attend the in-person or online training and get paid while they train.
For new caregivers who desire to learn, many organizations, such as Visiting Angels, will pay for new employees to receive formal training in the field, paving the path to a career in home care. This means that if someone you know is interested in providing care to your care recipient, they can apply for a caregiving position, even with no experience.
If finding a caregiver is proving impossible, adult day care may be a better fit. Offering many of the same services as a senior center, with meals, activities, and entertainment, these facilities provide additional layers of care and security. Trained caregivers monitor care recipients closely for health changes and keep them safe within the facility’s confines. Assistance with toileting and meals is provided, and medications can be administered if requested.
The cost of adult day care can vary widely, averaging about $78/day. Medicare A and B do not cover the cost of adult daycare. Medicare Part C plan may offer partial coverage depending on the plan. If your care recipient qualifies for Medicaid, some program coverage may be available, depending on your state.
Veterans who require Adult Day Care services, as indicated by their physician, can receive full coverage of expenses related to the program as part of their veteran’s benefits.
The National Adult Day Services Association has created this free tool to help you find an organization near you.
An extensive list of resources is available for members of Anthem, including information on navigating insurance and caregiving needs, a caregiver locating tool, telehealth visits, and links to the Caregiver Action Network, where additional support and resources abound.
Kaiser Permanente offers an array of resources, including life care planning, guides to caring for disease-specific needs, and help navigating care needs after a hospital stay.
The guide created by United Healthcare is both thorough and informative. The booklet covers topics from self-care to warning signs that your care recipient should be seen by a physician. It also offers direct links to valuable resources, such as the AARP guide to respite care (temporary care provided when a caregiver needs a break).
You can access many of these resources, even if you are covered under another insurance carrier. Furthermore, many carriers make resources available on their websites.
WHEN IT’S TIME TO LEAVE HOME
If continuing to provide care within the home isn’t an option, it may be time to consider moving your care recipient to a more appropriate location. Several options exist for those needing constant care, including Assisted Living centers, Personal Care facilities, and Long-Term Care Nursing Homes. Depending on your state, some legal definitions of the level of care provided in each facility may vary. Your care recipient will require a thorough assessment before moving into one of the locations listed to ensure the appropriate placement.
Personal care facilities are residential homes providing assistance with medications and personal care tasks such as bathing and toileting. Meals are provided, as well as household tasks such as cleaning and laundry. Many personal care facilities allow residents to live in apartment-like settings. Transportation services and activities are provided for enrichment, leading to a vibrant community within the facility.
Assisted living is very similar to personal care, with the addition of providing some level of skilled nursing needs. Care is a step up from personal care but does not provide the extensive, skilled nursing care of nursing homes. Assisted living facilities are often very home-like in their appearance, much like personal care facilities, though shared room options do exist.
Memory care facilities are specialized and designed to care for people living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. These facilities are often listed as long-term care and provide the same round-the-clock, skilled care as nursing homes. Buildings are often designed to have a continuous but locked floor plan. This means that the residents can freely walk around and explore without getting lost and without leaving the security of the grounds. Outdoor space is available on some campuses, and residents enjoy many of the same amenities as they do in assisted living.
Long-term care, also known as nursing homes, are medical facilities that provide 24/7 skilled nursing care in a live-in facility. Most facilities are run much like a hospital, with shared rooms providing minimal personal effects space. All medications and healthcare needs are managed by licensed staff, and physicians are on-call at all hours. Meals, laundry, and cleaning services are provided. Some activities, spiritual care, and transportation are available, but trips out of the facility are limited.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC)
Continuing care retirement communities provide several levels of care within one campus. Residents who require no help can start by downsizing to an independent living home on campus. They can enjoy all the amenities while knowing that additional care is available if needed. This is an excellent option for those who want to plan ahead or for those whose spouse lives in a higher level of care within the community. Often, personal care homes or apartments are sprinkled around the campus and provide a home and community feel while offering safety and assistance for those who need it.
Changing care levels within the CCRC
If members become ill or require additional care, they are moved into apartments in the main facility. Here they continue to enjoy the same care but at a somewhat higher level. If the care recipient later requires full-time nursing care, they are moved just a few floors away to the skilled nursing/long-term care wing, where they receive 24/7 nursing care. You’ll often find beautiful libraries, pools, game rooms, salons, gardens, and even theaters within these communities. Check out the Freedom Village at Brandywine, for example.
Caregiving is a profoundly challenging job, even more so if you’re burdened with other work and family responsibilities. As the shortage of workers continues, caregivers must give themselves some grace, even when making decisions they never thought they would. At the same time, employers must remain flexible and understanding as their workforce navigates the complexities of caring for aging parents and others who require care. Employees who are supported during this difficult time are more likely to develop a long-standing relationship with their employer.
Tammy McKinney, RN, creator of HelpfulHospiceNurse, is a healthcare writer and seasoned registered nurse. With experience in acute care, long-term care, rehabilitation, drug & alcohol, and hospice & palliative care, she combines her medical understanding with her love for writing to educate and inform the public on various health-related topics. You can view a snippet of her portfolio here or contact her directly on LinkedIn!