Paid vs Unpaid Caregivers

What is a caregiver? Most people think of a professional who regularly provides help to someone who may be elderly or with a disability that requires more assistance. This would be correct, however, it leaves out a large group… the family members. 

Even though there are many paid professional caregivers across the province there are even more unpaid family members who are providing care for their aging family.

Paid and unpaid caregivers are both essential for the quality of life that seniors deserve. Whether you or a loved one is planning on getting family support or seeking out paid professionals, it’s important to not down play one over the other and that even if one is going well that doesn’t mean you won’t need help from the other. They are both equally important and valuable.

There are a few types of paid caregivers. The medical and the non-medical. The non-medical care givers are the ones that look after some of the day to day task within the house, such as assisting with care plans, meal prep, helping with medications, providing mobility assistance, housekeeping and arranging transportation when needed. These individuals can be found on most care facilities. They are the ones that are common within assisted living housing.

Medical Care givers are the nurses, the LPN’s, LVN’s and RN’s. The type of care each provides depends on their level and qualifications as well as the residence which they are caring for. Some of the medical duties they may provide would be things like, monitoring vitals, drawing blood, changing dressings, giving injections, inserting catheters, preparing IVs, treating chronic or acute conditions and providing palliative or hospice care for terminal illnesses.

Family caregivers are typically the first line of care givers that a person receives. They are the most common care providers out there. Being a care giver for a family member is not an easy thing. It’s hard to watch someone dear to you go into a new stage of life that doesn’t allow them to be completely independent. The amount of care provided by family can vary pending on person and what the family is comfortable doing.

Other duties can be establishing care plans, taking care of transportation, managing finances, providing companionship’s, scheduling, arranging in-home care services, ensuring home safety, creating emergency plans, providing injections and managing catheters.

Caregivers whether paid or unpaid hold a huge amount of responsibility that can end up weighing on a person. 

Tips for self-care as a caregiver are:

Take care of your mental and physical health. This goes along with the care plan. Make sure you are staying healthy, not only physically but also mentally to reduce stress and the chances of burnout. Get exercise, attend fitness classes, make time to visit loved ones and make a priority to take part in the activities you enjoy.

  • Educate yourself. It’s important to become familiar with your loved one’s condition and health requirements as well as the basic care giving principles. 
  • Create a schedule. Stay on track, write everything down or put it into your calendar. If you consider yourself to be a fairly busy person, then it might be a good idea to put literally everything into your calendar, from breaks to lunch to when you’re going to shower.
  • Be realistic about your capabilities and don’t get in over your head. Ask for help when you need help.
  • Connect with other caregivers in the community. It can be helpful to have your own community of other caregivers to spend time with and bounce ideas and stories off of. 
  • Seek professional help if it’s needed. If you find yourself performing duties that you are not comfortable with or don’t have time to do adequately then it might be time to seek outside help.