Most people will become caregivers at some point in their lives. Although our parents, family elders, and senior friends typically have medical professionals that they turn to for skilled medical care, it’s us (the friends and family) who usually provide the bulk of the care that happens after business hours. Although many people who give care allow their intuition to guide their caregiving style, there are quite a few online caregiving training programs designed to help people sharpen their caregiving skills and abilities. In this piece, I’ll explain what caregiving is, who caregivers are, what caregiving training is, and provide personal and expert feedback on caregiving training resources I found online.
What Is Caregiver Training?My research shows that online caregiver training typically prepares family and friends to care for a senior loved one by teaching caregiving skills. These skills range from basic (preparing food, self-care skills, etc.) to advanced (toileting skills, medication preparation, etc.). These courses are typically self-paced and feature videos, worksheets, and exams to teach skills.
Who Are Caregivers?According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, “a caregiver is a person who tends to the needs or concerns of a person with short- or long-term limitations due to illness, injury, or disability.” Many of you reading this may better relate to the term “family caregiver.” A family caregiver is someone who cares for a family member (or their chosen family). “This could be members of their congregation, neighbors or close friends,” Johns Hopkins Medicine adds. “Family caregivers play a significant role in health care, as they are often the main source of valuable information about the patient.” Jeanne Leising, regional vice president of health services at Landmark Health, reiterates that her company calls relatives, neighbors, and friends who provide a senior support in the home caregivers. “Caregivers spend many hours caring for and assisting a person with their day-to-day needs and most often do so without pay, training, or support,” Leising adds.
What Do Caregivers Do?Caregivers provide a range of services, including but not limited to:
- Transporting a person to medical and non-medical appointments.
- Running errands, such as picking up a person’s medications and groceries.
- Assisting with daily necessities, such as helping a person dress, get out of bed, etc.
- Providing housework and preparing meals.
- Helping with finances, and communicating other important information to agencies, etc.
What Caregivers Don’t DoAt-home caregivers are often family members and friends of the person in need of care. As previously mentioned, these caregivers often help seniors with day-to-day needs, such as dressing, making food, cleaning, helping with medications, and more. That being said, there are different types of caregivers. There are caregivers like you, the friends and family of a senior citizen who aim to make their loved one’s life easier to live. Then there are some caregivers working on behalf of a caregiving agency. For example, organizations like CareAcademy work to help keep these professional caregivers trained and in compliance according to the state they work in. Some organizations allow you to hire nurses. For example, ComfortKeepers calls one of their specialized tiers of care “Private Duty Nursing.” These specialized caregivers are trained to give medical care. Some of this care includes:
- Non-injectable or injectable medication administration
- Insulin syringe filling
- Ostomy and catheter hygiene
- And more
Why Would Someone Consider Caregiver Training?Most people become caregivers because they care about the senior in need. Some people may choose to care for a loved one on their own because:
- They can’t afford a paid caregiver.
- They don’t feel a paid caregiver could give as good care as a friend or family member.
- Their senior loved one doesn’t feel comfortable receiving help from another person.
What Makes A Good Caregiver?What makes a good and qualified caregiver varies. The preliminary research I did suggests that although family and friends can provide caregiving without training, all caregivers will benefit from training. This training could be in the form of an online course, or it might come from a seasoned professional (possibly a nurse) who teaches courses independently. It could also be acquired at a senior living or medical facility. The research above suggests that caregivers typically fare better when they know what to expect. For example, in the Forbes Q&A, Washington writes the following about caregiver stress: “I definitely feel like I had after-effects from caregiving and lingering stress and burnout and kind of lingering anxiety as well.” However, family caregivers sometimes don’t have a choice if they are qualified or not. A caregiver often has to teach themselves or rely on others to teach them the skills needed to care for their senior family member. In a Forbes article, Howard Gleckman writes that when family caregivers lack the skills to care for their family members, their lives become more complex. And sometimes, the people for whom they are caring get injured or become ill. In the piece, Gleckman describes a few good programs that train family caregivers and the benefits of these programs. However, most of these training courses are state-specific. That’s where online courses and supplemental videos come into play.
Top Caregiver Training ResourcesThe following online caregiver courses are specifically for family and friend caregivers. The caregiver training options listed here range from online courses that cost a fee to websites that feature helpful caregiving videos, which allow the caregiver to learn as they go in a free-form way. Remember: even family caregivers could benefit from formal training. Amy Flaster, Chief Medical Officer for ConcertoCare says that “training can provide great professional satisfaction and confidence in caregiving.” She adds that “Training also reduces caregiver burden, stress and burnout, and it allows for even greater fulfillment in caring for a loved one. Family members are often unpaid caregivers by default, and while many relish the experience, they need the support and training to endure and thrive in the role.” You’ll notice that the only ratings provided in this article are mine. This is because we could not view the trainings’ course material without paying the training fees. My ratings only rate what I could see and nothing more. However, Blight (a caregiving professional we quoted above) did give his general opinion on online caregiver training, which I’ve included below.
American Caregiver Association: National Caregiver Certification Course
(**Bonus: a brief review of the organization’s Advanced Course included below)The American Caregiver Association is one of the few companies on this list geared toward educating caregivers. The association “was founded by experienced healthcare professionals that have worked in the caregiver field for more than 40 years.” Training Description: The American Caregiver Association provides online training for caregivers of all levels. We’re focusing on the $99 course for family caregivers. The organization says this course is for many types of caregivers but specifically notes it will work for family caregivers in its course description. The beginner course is 120 hours long and covers a variety of essential caregiving topics. Although some family caregivers may not need to learn about some of the course’s topics, most of the course topics are pertinent to the in-home family caregiver, most notably:
- Managing Personal Stress
- Nutrition, Hydration, and Food Services,
- Skin Integrity
- And more
- Caring for Nails
- Caring for Teeth
- Preventing bedsores
- And more