Learn How to Become a Caregiver

Have you ever thought about working as a caregiver for elders or people with disabilities? Caregiving can be a rewarding career with many different possibilities. We will share why you may want to become a caregiver as well as how to become a caregiver. From the job possibilities and characteristics to be a good caregiver to the practicalities to become a caregiver, we’ve got you covered. We also offer resources for family caregivers if you scroll down. 

Why Become a Caregiver?

The great majority of EasyLiving’s caregivers feel a special affinity for taking care of the elderly. For some, that started with their own grandparents or family experiences. While, for others, they felt drawn to a helping career or became a caregiver as a second career. A wide variety of personalities and skills can be suited to caregiving, but key traits include patience and empathy. You get to do a job that is rewarding every day and know you are enriching someone’s life.

In most caregiving jobs, you have to be open to variety and unpredictability. This can be a big draw for some caregivers, as it means the days are rarely the same. You may perform similar tasks, but your client's needs, mood, or physical state that day may be quite different. And, most likely, you’ll work with a variety of clients and perhaps in different settings over time. It may come as a surprise to some, but caregiving gives you the chance to be creative and adaptable.

Similarly, the job itself is quite adaptable. You can work in home health for different types of agencies, with different types of clients or work in facilities or even a hospital. Job duties may be quite different accordingly. Some caregivers work in a couple of different settings. Even in home health, caregivers may visit several clients’ homes, take care of some in assisted living, run errands in the community, and sit with a client in the hospital.

Caregiving offers flexibility too in terms of schedules. We have many caregivers who work while studying or in conjunction with another job. Many Moms and Dads serve as caregivers, working schedules that accommodate childcare and family needs. Since clients need care around the clock, you can find caregiving shifts at all times.

Our caregivers share their own thoughts on why they chose this job:

Wondering if you’d make a good caregiver? Read our “Habits of Successful Caregivers” to get an idea.

How to Become a Caregiver: Requirements

In Florida, there is no state law that requires the licensing or certification of home health aides. However, to work for agencies or facilities you will need to meet certain requirements. You may also be able to work as a companion for some agencies, which does not require the same training and is limited to certain duties. We will share more below about how to become a caregiver with an agency and why.

How to Become a Caregiver: Licensed Home Health Agencies, Medicare, Medicaid, and CNA Licensing

To work in a licensed agency the home health aide must complete at least 40 hours of training or successfully complete a competency test given by the home health agency. Some home health agencies require additional training above these minimum hours. For example, at EasyLiving we provide training and continuing education in key areas for our caregivers.

To become a caregiver for a Medicare or Medicaid home health agency, a home health aide must complete at least 75 hours of training and/or successfully complete a competency evaluation given by the home health agency.

To work as a home health aide at a nurse registry, a home health aide must provide documentation of successful completion of at least 40 hours of home health aide training.

An individual with a Florida certified nursing assistant (CNA) certificate can be employed by a home health agency as a home health aide. CNAs are certified by a different state agency, the Department of Health, Board of Nursing, Certified Nursing Assistant Registry.  Passage of the state CNA test is required for certification. You will also have in-service requirements to maintain your CNA certification.

You will typically need to be a CNA for working as a nursing home caregiver.

Where to Get Caregiver Training

Local public vocational schools or private career education schools often offer a home health aide course. All private schools must be licensed by the Florida Department of Education. Home health agencies may offer training to those they employ/plan to employ. Some also serve as schools (must still be licensed as per above). Feel free to contact us anytime at 727-447-5845 to learn more and find resources!

How to Become a Caregiver in Florida When Moving from Another State

If you are a CNA in another state, check out our article about how to transfer your CNA license to Florida. If you worked as a caregiver without being a CNA, it will depend on your training and experience as to how to become a caregiver in Florida. Contact EasyLiving if you have questions about how to become a caregiver with us after moving from elsewhere.

Continuing Education Requirements

All home health aides employed by home health agencies and nurse registries must complete an HIV/AIDS training course. They also are required to obtain and maintain a current CPR certificate.

Home health aides employed by Medicare and Medicaid home health agencies are required to have a total of 12 hours of in-service training during each 12-month period (this can be a calendar year or based on the date of hire). The HIV/AIDS training and CPR training may be counted in this.

Why Become a Caregiver with an Agency

You may wonder, why work for an agency if the state doesn’t require any licensing for non-agency caregivers? First and most importantly, you will be employed by the agency which offers you various protections. Caregiving can be a risky job, with potential liability and concerns such as on-the-job injuries. Don’t forget being self-employed also means you’re responsible for managing the money side of things, including paying the proper taxes. Along with protections and managing taxes, an agency secures clients and deals with billing, contracts, and more. 

And, last but not least, a good agency will support you to be the best caregiver possible. For example, at EasyLiving we provide training and ongoing assistance. We equip our caregivers with the information they need going into any job and a careplan as the roadmap. Our supervisors provide support for any issues that arise and check in to be sure our caregivers have what they need. We use technology to make the job easier and continually focus on what our caregivers need to do their best.

Finding Caregiver Jobs

Great news! If you’re looking into how to become a caregiver, you’re exploring a growing field! Overall employment of home health aides and personal care aides is projected to grow 34% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. And, Florida is the place to be. It has the highest employment of home health aides in the nation. Right now there are about 25,000 home health aides in Florida, and jobs are expected to grow to 40,000 by 2023. Caregivers have been considered essential workers during the COVID pandemic. As you delve into how to become a caregiver, be assured you are entering an in-demand role.

As we shared above, if you want to work with individual clients in their homes and the community, we recommend a licensed home health agency. You can find many listings online and can explore your local list of home health agencies. Most will be hiring! You can also explore options such as assisted living facilities, nursing homes, hospitals and other types of agencies.

Finding the Right Fit

The workday, requirements, and pros and cons will vary by setting. For example, working in a care facility will provide more structure. You also have colleagues surrounding you, whereas in-home care is more flexible and independent. Typically, your clients and duties will be slightly different too. Working with a client in their home may involve more non-personal care duties such as companionship, light housekeeping, errands, and preparing meals.

What to ask

Once you’ve narrowed down the setting, make sure the agency or facility will be right for you. Obviously, you want to be sure the shift(s) and amount of work you’re looking for are available. Next, find out a bit about how they support their staff. Will they provide free training/continuing education? What type of system do they use to apprise you of your clients’ needs, manage your schedule, etc.? How can they help you continue to improve in your work? How will they handle any concerns or problems that arise with clients?

It is always nice to get a recommendation from other caregivers who work or have worked there. You can sometimes find reviews online too, on Google or Facebook for example.

How to Become a Caregiver for a Family Member

Family members provide the majority of care for older loved ones. So, how to become a caregiver for a family member? Can you get training for this? Well, becoming a family caregiver often just happens by necessity and there is a lot of on-the-job learning (like for all caregiving). But, you can actually take the same training that is mentioned above. It can be valuable in understanding how to handle care tasks. Learning things like safe lifting techniques could help you prevent injury. You will gain a lot of skills and knowledge. Seek specific knowledge and skills that apply to your situation, such as learning more about dementia.

caregiver dementia

Additionally, the most important piece of advice we can give to family caregivers is not to try to do everything alone. For example, one of the best moves you could make would be to hire a Care Coach. Use their experience so you don’t have to learn everything the hard way. Your care coach can provide tips and help you spot issues so caregiving doesn’t revolve around crises.

Also, consider using respite care. Be the best caregiver for your loved one by keeping yourself healthy.

You can check out some of our favorite books for caregivers in our “Best Books on Aging” post.