Hi, my name is Amanda, and I am in my fourth year at The Ohio State University. I will be graduating this upcoming spring with a B.S. in Health Sciences, and a minor in Biology and I have hopes of attending a physician assistant program come next fall. Physician assistants are medical professionals who diagnose illness, develop and manage treatment plans, prescribe medications, and often serve as a patient’s principal healthcare provider. A lot of prior education, training, and experience is required to become a physician assistant.
As a full-time student, finding ways to gain valuable health care experience was extremely difficult as many health care positions, especially those in facilities, require pricey certifications and time-consuming training, in addition to intense time commitments. This is unrealistic for a student whose goal is to excel in his or her 15 credit hours of coursework to maintain a competitive GPA to be admitted into any graduate program.
This is why when I heard about the opportunities at CaregiverUSA in an e-mail from my advisor, I did not waste any time in finding out more information. I felt comfortable beginning my journey with CGUSA knowing that I was going to be alongside my classmates. Within a month after first coming into contact with CaregiverUSA, I was able to begin my first home health position.
CGUSA provided me with an opportunity to familiarize myself with the patient population before obtaining my STNA certification through homemaking. At first, going into people’s homes was intimidating to me, but CGUSA made sure that someone was there to meet and orient me until I felt comfortable and, with the help of the CGUSA nursing team, it was not long until I felt fully confident in my ability to perform my job. Additionally, CGUSA provided me with details on an STNA training program that would be easily accessible to me and that I could take when my busy student schedule permitted me to. Once I successfully completed the STNA training course, I was able to gain even more valuable experience through the administration of personal care. My job as a CHHA has allowed me to grow as a future health care professional, helping me to develop my interpersonal skills, work as a team, and understand and learn other skills necessary to work in healthcare.
Through the referral program, I was able to develop a team of individuals that work together with the provision of improved care for our communities’ elders. Our team works in a similar manner to teams in healthcare facilities that we as students soon hope to become a part of. With the support and help of each of our team members, we can help accommodate each other’s schedules to ensure that both our clients and caregivers are being taken care of.
Working as a CHHA has been an overall extremely positive experience for me and has only further confirmed my aspirations to become a physician assistant. The guidance and support of the CGUSA team, flexible scheduling, and precious experience I have obtained working for CGUSA are just a few of the many reasons why I would highly recommend considering a position with them.
Hi this is Sarah again… So many interesting and wonderful things have happened since I last blogged. Where do I begin? It’s been weeks since I blogged about my career evolution from telecom company marketing manager… to stay-at-home mom… to part-time Caregiver via CGUSA. If you’ve missed my last article, here’s a quick recap to get you up to speed.
I officially turned 46 years old and had a nice, low-key celebration at my favorite organic restaurant with my husband David, and our two teenage boys, Mike and Zach. Besides treating me to a delicious and nutritious special meal (I even splurged and had a piece of flourless cacao cake) all three pitched in to buy me a new, high-end vacuum cleaner, replete with all the crack and crevice nozzle attachments I’ve come to love as the aforementioned “neat freak.” I’ve been putting my incredibly efficient new appliance to good use not only at our suburban Columbus, Ohio home but also at Jim and Josh’s house. They are my new clients for whom I provide caregiving services. We connected through the electronic job board on the CaregiverUSA website www.caregiverusa.com.
Now to the heart of the story. I admit, when I first met Jim and Josh, their situation was dire, and I knew my job wasn’t going to be easy. Jim, age 40, a divorced single dad who works as a wastewater specialist for the county water department, was diagnosed with stage 2 lymphoma about five months ago. He is the father of an adorable five-year-old boy, Josh, and shares joint custody with his ex-wife, Brittany, who lives about an hour’s drive away.
Jim’s doctors are treating his cancer aggressively and have been giving him several courses of chemotherapy over one to three days at a time. Each course of chemo makes Jim very tired and unable to do much of anything, especially cook for and keep up with Josh, who is a typical little “bundle of energy”, to be sure. Naturally, Jim was feeling guilty he can’t take care of Josh as he should during or shortly following the chemo. It didn’t help his frame of mind that for about three months prior to my arrival, Jim was depending on neighbors to feed and watch Josh while he was “out of commission”. Jim realized the neighbors have their own lives, with irregular schedules, and he needed to bring somebody qualified into the house right away. Leaving Josh with the neighbors was a temporary band-aid.
After trading several internal messages on the CGUSA site, Jim and I had our first candid phone conversation about his situation and the pressing need for my services. It was heart-breaking to me, as a parent, to realize that despite his own life-threatening health issues, Jim was most concerned about losing custody of his son. I could tell that Jim “being there” for Josh was essential to both the father and son’s well-being. Jim didn’t want to lose influence over his son’s rearing during this crucial phase of the boy’s life.
Generally, Jim is not a big talker. On this initial phone call, he was pouring out his fears about disrupting Josh’s routine too much, which could aggravate “acting out” episodes over “something’s wrong with Daddy”. Most of all, Jim wanted to stick to his pre-illness custody schedule as much as possible, rather than let Brittany watch Josh while he was sick. Jim “did not want to let on too much” about the seriousness of his condition, in case Brittany would try to “take Josh away from me, and just leave me with some visitation rights”.
While internally I was struggling with my own emotions upon hearing this truly sad scenario, I chose to be understanding but professional, recommending that I come into his home four days a week for six hours each day, with any needed adjustments made to accommodate Jim’s chemo treatments. While I knew Jim was desperate and would probably agree to almost any hourly rate, I stuck with my original quote, displayed on my CGUSA profile, of $25 an hour for cooking, housekeeping, organization, errands and, most importantly, child care. I felt this was reasonable given my experience and skills sets, and it also made it worth my while as I seek to build up my own sons’ college tuition fund.
My first day on the job was daunting. I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but I felt (and still do feel) it is my purpose and mission to be there and help Jim and Josh through this distressing time. Anyway, Jim answers the doorbell and he is tall about 6 foot, but very pale and frail-looking, with thinning light brown hair and blue eyes. Despite his obvious fatigue, he has a pleasant, accommodating personality. In a surprisingly strong voice, he calls for Josh to come out and meet “your new nanny”. “Josh, come see, Sarah says she’s even more fun than Mary Poppins!” Jim jokes.
“Great,” I think, as this tow-headed little fireball races toward me from around the corner, “Now I have to live up to Mary Poppins standards. What a let-down when he realizes my umbrella doesn’t carry me off to the skies!”
However, fear of not flying was the least of my initial concerns. There were dirty, smelly dishes in the sink. The house seemed as if it hadn’t had a good cleaning in at least six months. Toys were strewn everywhere. After talking a few minutes, I realized their usual dinner consisted of order-in pepperoni and bell pepper pizzas (at least the peppers are vegetables) or fast-food burgers and fries.
Like Mary Poppins, it was time for me to work my own brand of magic to transform Jim and Josh’s living situation. Day after day, I would happily scrub and scour tubs, corners, and cobwebs, and revealed in more opportunities to use my fantastic birthday vacuum cleaner. I did an inventory of Josh’s toys and created a color-coded bin system so he, Jim, and I could retrieve and stash them easily.
Practically speaking, I agreed to make the delivery pizza only an occasional dinner treat. Instead, I took the grocery money Jim gave me and whipped up some tasty, nutritious healthy meals. Like the former junk-food eaters in my own family, Jim and Josh quickly learned to love my famous “zucchini with roasted pistachios” not to mention “baked chicken with sweet potato and green beans casserole.” As Josh says: “Gulp-alicious!”
Clearly, the biggest challenge of all was handling Josh’s roller-coaster emotions. He is such a cute, smart little guy, but it didn’t take much to turn him into a screaming banshee! He threw a fit when he didn’t get his customary “sprinkle cheese” on his sandwich. He cried and carried on when he couldn’t see Daddy sleeping in the bedroom. He grabbed the Comet when my back was turned for just a second and started sprinkling it all over the furniture – now that was a clean-up job I actually didn’t like!
Fortunately, Jim and I discussed in advance how he wanted Josh disciplined. Besides, Josh’s personality reminded me of Zach when he was that age, so I had a few tricks up my sleeve. I even told Josh funny stories about my boys when they were little – finding a frog in the inflatable swimming pool; Mikey’s big hit in T-ball, etc. without giving Josh too many ideas!
Today, I just returned from Jim and Josh’s house. I’m thrilled to report Jim is responding very well to the chemo. Without the added worry of cooking and caring for Josh, Jim has been able to rest more comfortably and focus positive energy on his recovery. Josh’s tantrums have started to subside now that a sense of order has been restored.
I’m so touched Jim introduces me as a “godsend” to his family. Besides the housekeeping, cooking and childcare services I provide, Jim credits my “optimism and positive attitude” with making the biggest difference in their lives. He says he is grateful to me for getting them through this “sludgy situation”, and plans to recommend CaregiverUSA to his friends and his HR department once he is able to return to work. I’m hoping that will be in the next couple months. I’ve developed a real affection for Jim and Josh, and plan to visit or help out once in a while, even after they resume their regular routines and I move on to care for another client family.
By now, you know I’m not “just about the money”, although I am happy our college fund is growing week after week. This experience with Jim and Josh has helped me find renewed purpose and a heightened sense of contentment. I would never have imagined that I’ll be sharing my care story about a single father with cancer and his little boy, let alone be blessed with the opportunity to help them through a tough time.
With everything I’ve done in my life thus far, I’ve discovered that caregiving is what I do best. When I nurture other people, I am nurturing my higher self to be the best person I can be. I’ve found my true calling.
It’s not easy being a Caregiver and if you keep at it long enough, you will really need to take care of yourself as well. Why? You need to help yourself to prevent burnout. It’s too easy to get caught up in the moment, knowing you are doing something worthwhile no matter how physically, psychologically and emotionally draining it may be. Sometimes, we do this informally for a loved one – and when our own minds and bodies start to pay the price, Caregivers in their utter devotion and sacrifice, might not even notice the toll they themselves are paying – until it is far, far too late.
We can learn to spot the Caregiver burnout signs – whether in ourselves or in other Caregivers. The second part is more important – because we may never be able to judge ourselves properly. We need friends, fellows, co-workers to see us as we truly are, because, by the time we start showing signs of burnout, our own minds may be too brutalized and traumatized to see ourselves properly. Friends are our lifeline, Caregivers caring for each other. So, let’s just talk about the signs of Caregiver burnout and what we can do. There are many signs, and here are four of the big ones.
Do you find yourself withdrawing from friends and family? Are you avoiding things you loved to do, and cutting off connections with other people? Sometimes, we can get so busy with the often-urgent demands of caregiving, we tell ourselves “we’re just busy”. And little by little, like the frog in a slow-boiling pot, we start to close ourselves to the outside world. We stop talking to friends. The phone is almost never used. We stop showing up to gatherings. And people may take some time to notice that something is wrong. So check yourselves – who are your closest friends now, and who were your closest friends before you current caregiving arrangements? When was the last time you met up with your friends, and when was the last time you even spoke to them? If something bad happened to you, would they notice it immediately? Withdrawal is the greatest slow-burning problem because it kills off the best antidote: friends. People who know you, and who know you well enough to sense when something goes wrong. Once these people are gradually removed, under the cover of reasons such as “busy with work”, “lost interest” and “need more alone time”, they stop noticing. And that is when a person can enter a very dangerous spiral – isolation and loneliness feeding each other in a vicious circle.
Look around you. Make sure someone can see if you’re in burnout. You are devoted and loyal to your charges and patients, and you may feel guilty about taking a break. That is natural, but being alone and depressed is not. Keep all your social channels open!
Irritability and Hopelessness
This is another danger sign that “complements” social withdrawal. These things come in packages, and one leads to another. When your mind is in perpetual crisis mode, perceptions become extreme. It’s easy to end up swinging from being optimistic one moment, and then completely hopeless and pessimistic the next. It affects your mood and can make you angry – angry enough to be snapping at people around.
Is this happening? Once a Caregiver starts behaving like this, it can trigger or reinforce the social withdrawal that is all too dangerous – this sort of thing cuts off your best lifeline and prevention method for burnout, namely, a good support circle of friends. So, don’t keep it all in. Find someone to talk to, someone with whom you can share your frustrations, your anxieties, your fear. This can dial down the tension quite a bit, and give you the mental recharge you need to sort out other problems!
Beneficial Routines Stopped
This is related to withdrawal from social life, and missed medical appointments. The sheer workload of Caregivers may disrupt your life as you move mountains to care for someone. Many things we do by routine, which are beneficial to our holistic wellness, get disrupted. One of the most important ones is exercise.
As a Caregiver, have you stopped your routine exercise, no matter how light it may be? Has it been discarded under the excuse that “my caregiving is strenuous enough and gives me all the exercise I need”? Snap out of it! Exercise is beneficial not only physically, but psychologically too – you need to devote your exercise time to focus on the exercise activity. Withdrawal from this deals you double damage – first, you lose a lifeline that helps stave off burnout and depression. Second, you lose the benefits that exercise brings, and any work-based substitute merely stresses you out even more.
Snap back to your routine as much as possible, or plan a new routine that meets your caregiving needs – and stick to it. Enforce a break mentally as well as a physical break every now and then – think of it as clearing your head and recharging for the long term! And don’t forget to keep a healthy diet, and go for any routine check-ups you need – who knows what they might detect early?
Getting stressed often leads you to catch just about any bug that comes your way. All the more if you ignore your exercise routine and lapse into an unhealthy diet, and isolate yourself from friends and spiral into anxiety and depression. Look back and ask yourself – are you falling sick more often, or more intensely, than usual? Are you getting more aches and pains, and more sniffles? The stresses faced by Caregivers can, over the long run, compromise the immune system. As a Caregiver, you can see this in your patients – but don’t forget to look in the mirror! Sickness can be a person’s body asking them to slow down – and that person may well be the Caregiver instead of the Careseeker (everybody is a potential Careseeker anyway).
So, do reflect on your own health and illness – it is an excellent self-check against Caregiver Burnout. Better still if you have regular medical checkups or appointments – if you have missed any of them, that’s a good cue to think about whether you’ve been in burnout. And if you can’t decide, ask your friends. And if you haven’t spoken to your friends for a long time… you probably need to take a step back, and re-connect as soon as you can!
Remember, human beings are social creatures. As much as we need “me time” to take a break from whatever work consumes us, we also need “social time”. Think of it as crowdsourcing your self-diagnosis – it’s one thing to look into a mirror to check if your hair looks messy or if that dress fits you well. It’s another thing to have close and trusted friends give you a variety of honest opinions – they may not share your blind spots, and Caregiver burnout is one of those things that creeps up on us from where we usually cannot see it. So reach out and find friends! Until next time, take care of yourselves!
This article is written by April Han. She is a multi-passionate entrepreneur. With a formal education in Business Administration and years of working with healthcare startups under her belt, she is able to provide valuable advice to aspiring locums in terms of creativity, innovation, and discovery of solutions to the challenges amid our society’s growing demand for health services. A life-long learner with a growth mindset, she is currently expanding her knowledge of the healthcare marketplace through online courses and hands-on training from world-class mentors.
The word “podcast” was coined in 2004. It is a portmanteau of the two words “iPod” and “broadcast.” A podcast is an audio show that is usually made up of a series of episodes. They can be downloaded from the Internet to your computer or mobile device so you can listen to it whenever and wherever you go.
You can access podcasts, usually for free, from popular platforms such as Google Play, Stitcher, and iTunes. Topics vary from news, business, education, technology, politics, and health among others. For locum doctors, listening to podcasts offer a lot of benefits such as:
Getting you inspired. A well-rounded individual is passionate about things outside of their field. A doctor like you, for example, may be interested in the meaning of life, sustainable living practices or what genuine happiness means. As mentioned earlier, podcasts come in various themes and subjects that you will surely find one that will inspire you.
Keeping you well-informed. The landscape of medicine is ever-changing. Medical technology keeps on advancing, and patient-focused care is more critical than ever. As a doctor, your responsibility is to make sure that you are ready for the challenges of today and tomorrow by keeping yourself educated and well-informed. Sadly, your work takes up a lot of your time and reading a book is often not an option. A podcast can help you stay updated on the current trends and developments in the medical world.
These are the two most important benefits you can get from listening to a podcast. There are a whole lot more, but those two should be enough to get you to pick up your devices and start downloading these five podcasts every doctor should listen to:
This podcast is a weekly installment of gripping conversations with the influencers in the healthcare industry. If you want to stay updated on who the current movers and shakers are in healthcare and what new methods and products are about to change the way healthcare is delivered to the community, this is the podcast that should be on your top download list.
TED is the acronym for Technology, Entertainment, Design. The organization produces and distributes talks online that you can listen to for free. They operate under the slogan “Ideas worth spreading.”
The TedTalks Health podcast is primarily dedicated to sharing interesting insights from medical professionals. Although the talk is presented in front of a live audience, they are also recorded so that the public can listen to it wherever they are in the world. If you want to know about the latest medical breakthroughs straight from the experts, you have to listen to this podcast.
If you are a locum doctor who already knows that personal branding is an important part of your success, you are probably looking for ways to improve the way you market your brand. This is precisely the podcast that you should download right away. What makes this even more perfect for a busy doctor like you is that each episode only lasts for about 10 minutes.
If your online presence and offline marketing efforts haven’t been bringing new contracts lately, this podcast will help you remedy that, one 10-minute episode at a time.
Whether you are a full-time locum or you have a steady job and planning to transition to freelancing, this is a great podcast to listen to. As their website says, it is a podcast where you can learn from those who have “been there, done that.” These are the professionals that can give you advice based on real-life experience, not merely from a book they’ve read. Not only will you find inspirational pieces here, but also practical information about setting your rates and dealing with clients.
Do you want to improve your career or profession and your personal life at the same time? Listen to these podcasts while you’re commuting to or from work, exercising or relaxing. They will help you make the most out of the very limited time you have left after taking care of your work responsibilities. Let them inspire you and keep you updated on top healthcare issues.
From time to time, careseekers need caregivers who provide home care services. These can range from helping mothers with newborn babies or even staying overnight to care for an elderly loved one. But this type of service delivery comes with its own challenges and issues, beyond the usual issues of cultural, age and gender differences. We’d like to share this article to help you better understand the challenges faced by caregivers.
The Stranger In Your Midst
I’m sure many caregivers have experienced this before. Sometimes, people are simply uncomfortable with a new person within the household. The consequences can be severe – caregivers sometimes end up suffering verbal, physical and psychological abuse from their charges if this isn’t handled properly. There are many causes for care recipients, such as the elderly, to feel unhappy about receiving home care. One cause is social perception – it looks as if the family is unwilling to provide the sort of care and help that the caregiver is being hired to do. Another cause may be inherently personal – the patient simply has that sort of personality that makes it difficult for home caregivers to work with them. Sometimes, in the absence of either factor, other things can happen to create such problems. Dementia or other illnesses may affect mood and personality, and medication can also cause complications. This is why when you are arranging for home care – whether as a careseeker or caregiver – the patient’s psychology and condition need to be considered in order to find the best way to achieve a “soft landing”. Of course, the relationship should also not be allowed to get too close – this can have equally bad consequences, and even the most intelligent people might not be immune to such problems (Professor Stephen Hawking’s relationship and marriage to Elaine Mason is a huge example).
Revolving Doors and Backups
Do you prefer having one dedicated caregiver for the long term, or do you prefer having a care company that may send a different caregiver to the patient each week? There are pros and cons to both caregivers and careseekers. From the patient perspective, certain light, minor issues can easily be dealt with on a revolving-door basis but there will be times when a patient requires the sort of insight and understanding that only a dedicated caregiver can provide – but caregivers need rest too, and cannot be expected to be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week for months on end. Caregivers, like all other people, can get sick, and may take days off, and celebrate public holidays. Therefore, even if there is no revolving door, there is still a need to arrange for backup or relief – not corporate slavery or leaving the careseeker in the lurch just because it’s Christmas. For these reasons, when caregivers and careseekers are trying to match up with each other, it makes sense to cast a wide net to ensure the right combination of the right people are found for the right job.
Running Helter Skelter
Is the caregiver expected to provide a taxi service? Does the careseeker require it? This is not an idle question – some home care patients need to be regularly ferried to and from hospitals for checkups or therapy, and transportation requirements and options may have to be taken into account. It is one thing to live very near good public transportation or have a budget to arrange for taxi booking. However, there may come a time when what is needed is a home caregiver with a driver’s license. The patient’s travel requirements are no trivial matter since a delay can sometimes be far too costly.
Not A Maid
A careseeker’s medical needs may extend to being chauffeured to the hospital, being bathed and washed, and being spoon-fed. However, people sometimes forget that caregivers are not maids, and may end up expecting them to perform domestic chores. This is an unenviable situation that happens when people are obsessed with the dollars and cents and see everything as a transaction. Caregivers should be careful and realize that the job interview goes both ways – it is as much for caregivers to screen out potentially-abusive careseekers, as it is for careseekers to screen out problem caregivers. Besides, who knows what sort of tax incentives or care-related rebates might be lost or jeopardized if the caregiver undertakes more work than they should? All this would depend on your national laws, of course.
Paying for Quality
Does the careseeker require specialized nursing or pharmaceutical assistance?
Does the caregiver have the training and ability to prepare and administer medications under a complex regimen? The greater the professional demands on a caregiver, the higher the potential cost. This is a fact of the market that both sides need to think about. What the market does not say, is that in a way, the worse off a careseeker is, the more likely they need a caregiver who is more diligent and/or intelligent. This has a potential downside – fraud and elder abuse sometimes come from the most dogged and determined of caregivers, whether formal or informal. Even now in Singapore, we have an informal caregiver who got struck out of a widow’s massive will, is facing numerous criminal charges, and is contesting the authorities’ legal actions on all fronts. Caregivers, on their end, may also face the challenges of dealing with sophisticated customers. Some care seekers may be poor and uneducated. Others may well be retired hospital department heads who might not hesitate to make that one phone call to a highly-placed friend… hopefully to praise and not condemn the caregiver.
This can be crucial, even if you do this merely by telephone.
This is the chance for parties to clarify mutual expectations and limits, what’s in and what’s out, and also look at patient history and caregiver experience and references. What are the caregiver’s skills? Besides having a driver’s license, does the caregiver know how to transfer a wheelchair-bound patient in and out of cars? Does the patient require special types of food and must the caregiver be able to cook or prepare them? Will you be scheduling a live meeting to see how the caregiver and patient interact?
Well, that’s all for now. We hope this helps at least a little bit more in understanding that matching up a caregiver to a careseeker can seem to be an easy task, but it really isn’t, and it pays to invest the effort early to prevent problems happening later.
Jinji and Shinji Yue’s decision to start Caregiver USA Corporation was rooted in personal experience with caregiving. Both men helped to care for their father when he was dying of cancer, and Jinji also helped care for his then future wife’s mother in her final days battling lung cancer.
“I was 16 when my father was diagnosed with liver cancer,” Jinji said. “Shinji was 20 and in the army, and he would get some nights off to come visit and help, but I was there every day.”
The family lived in Singapore, and there, at that time, most cancer care was delivered in a hospital inpatient setting.
“It was still very important for us to be there with him as much as possible,” Jinji said. “His chemotherapy treatments were very harsh, and he suffered a great deal from side effects, including extreme fatigue and frequent vomiting. We did our best to keep him as comfortable as possible.”
As they watched their father struggle and suffer, Jinji and Shinji suffered too.
“Caregiving is emotional,” Jinji said. “It’s very tiring, and our anxiety level was very high. During my dad’s first round of cancer treatment, I was in denial. The year before, my grandfather had passed, but he had been old, so while the loss was sad, it was expected at that point. But my dad should have had many more years of life left ahead of him. He had always been the pillar of my life. I thought he would recover.”
While initially hoping the cancer treatments would be successful, Jinji and Shinji and their mother saw growing evidence to the contrary.
“We saw his slow decline,” Jinji said. “Then, in his final two months, he was very frail and was in and out of consciousness. He died about eight months after his diagnosis. I was 17. It took me years after he was gone to accept the reality of losing him.”
About five years after losing his father, Jinji was a student at Ohio State University, working towards his bachelor of science in mechanical engineering.
“I received a call from my girlfriend, Siewling,” Jinji said. “She still lived in Singapore at the time. She called and told me her mom had just been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and had less than one year to live. I decided to take time off from school to go home and help care for her.”
Jinji was able to apply what he had learned through his personal experience with caregiving to help Siewling and her family.
“I saw the condition Siewling’s mother was in,” Jinji said, “And I Siewling and her brothers were in the same shoes I had been in. I suspected she had less than a year to live, maybe six months. She was in the hospital a lot, and I spent a lot of time there with her and her family. I tried to give advice and help out however I could.”
Fast forward to the present, and Jinji and Shinji are applying what they learned through their personal experiences with caregiving to help others.
“Having had the opportunity to care for two people who were dying let me appreciate tremendously what caregiving is all about,” Jinji said. “When we started Caregiver USA, we did so because there are a lot of people who need help with caregiving. In our experience, we just had family members rotating constantly, with no extra help, and we really could have used more assistance. Sometimes you just need a break. We wanted to offer more choices to find help. And we wanted to help ensure access to high quality help.
“We created a web-based platform, bookacare.com that allows those seeking healthcare services for themselves or loved ones to find, evaluate, hire and review qualified, experienced and accredited health-care professionals. Our services can be accessed conveniently online from a computer or mobile applications and through social media. Information is readily accessible via iPhones and tablets. We even provide the opportunity for caregivers and care seekers to review one another. Care seekers can enjoy peace of mind in hiring a caregiver who has received positive reviews, is insured and has passed an extensive background check. The caregivers who get the best reviews will be hired the most often, so they benefit too. “ Care seekers also can get to know their caregivers better before hiring them and welcoming them into their homes.
One way to improve the quality of caregivers available is to ensure they receive fair financial compensation.
“You get what you pay for,” Jinji said. “Many home care agencies have a very high turnover because nurses and nurses’ aides can barely earn a living wage. They receive inadequate pay and no benefits, and most of them operate completely independently, never interacting with their professional peers..
“Through our business model, we are able to help our caregivers receive fair compensation and feel valued. We empower them to perform at their best. As independent contractors, they are their own bosses. We also provide a lot of training to both our contracted caregivers and our full-time employees, and we can provide an office environment that encourages team interaction. This supports the goal of all of our caregivers knowing and living our core mission.”
Through bookacare.com and our brick and mortar agencies, Caregiver USA aims not only to lighten the caregiving load for families, but to provide a rewarding professional experience for its caregivers.
“The caregiving experience I had made me realize the importance of caregiving, its challenges and also its emotional rewards,” Jinji said. “Our mission is very simple. We want to create value and happiness in caring for others. You want to be happy when providing care. The drive to do so has to come from within. But then to avoid burning out in doing so, you need to be supported and rewarded.”
Hi, it’s me — Christine. I told you last time that I was using some of the skills I learned in Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) training in my new career as a caregiver entrepreneur with CGUSA. I’ve gotta tell you, it’s been going great so far!
Not that caring for John, 72, with Alzheimer’s isn’t a challenge. It definitely is, but nothing I can’t handle. And I know I am really making a difference in not only his life, but his wife Anna’s, 65, whom I told you last time, has high blood pressure and diabetes and was becoming exhausted under the stress of trying to take care of both her health and John’s.
Then there’s the relief I’ve been giving to Mary Jane. She’s John and Anna’s daughter — I am guessing she is about 45 years old. Mary Jane has a really full plate with a high-powered managerial job, a husband, three kids and two dogs. She lives two hours away and had been commuting back and forth between her family and her parents’ every weekend for three months, until I started working with them.
Mary Jane is the one who actually hired me through the CGUSA website, and now she, along with her five brothers and sisters all living in other states, are all chipping in to pay the cost of my coming in to John and Anna’s home to help out. I mentioned last time I am going over there twice a week, every Tuesday and Thursday, from 10 am to 2 pm., and getting paid $18 an hour. This is the rate I chose and the hours I picked from the git-go, so I am able to get my kids up (Lucas, 6 , and Mia, almost 2), give them breakfast, and drop them off to school or – in Mia’s case — to daycare or my Mom’s
But more about John. He really is a sweet man, but he gets a little flustered and upset with himself at times because he can’t remember things like he used to. You know, little stuff like where he put his reading glasses, or his coffee cup, or the different states he and Anna’s six children live in. When that happens, he just kind of gets frazzled and a little upset, but it doesn’t take much to get him calmed down, because I locate these items pretty easily (he isn’t moving around that much) and I just tell him that son Jack moved to Illinois from Ohio only a few months back, so it’s not that easy to remember where Jack is living now – no big deal. 🙂
John and I also “connect” through humor. He knows he has Alzheimer’s – he remembers it some of the time, not all, of course. Sometimes, when he has his good, lucid moments, he makes jokes about his condition. I just smile. Then he tells me an old joke off the top of his head. Sure, some of them are corny, and he has repeated several of them more than once, but the jokes lift John’s mood and get him engaged and thinking, so I always giggle no matter how many times I’ve heard the punchline. And, actually, some of the jokes really are funny. “Have you heard the one about the three Irishmen in the bar who…”
Wait a minute, I’m getting too carried away with this! 🙂
John’s Alzheimer’s is in the early stages. Mary Jane told me he was only diagnosed less than a year ago, after a scary episode where he couldn’t find his way back home after taking a walk. Like most patients in the beginning of the disease, John’s long-term memory is still pretty good. He can talk about the “old days,” back in the ‘50s all day long. It’s his short-term memory — things that happened in the last few days, or weeks — that are giving him trouble.
Right now, because I am so new as a CNA (Certified Nurse Assistant), I told you before I wanted to kind of ease my way into my new caregiver career, as opposed to just jumping in feet first; (I’m the same way when I get in a swimming pool; I creep slowly into the deeper water, so I can get used to it. No cannonballs for me!) But now that I have been working with this family, I know they have other needs that require more skilled medical training.
Pretty soon, I am going to upgrade my services to match what my CNA certification provides, for example, giving John a bath, working with his physician or a Registered Nurse (RN) manager to provide some kind of specialized Alzheimer’s memory care stimulation. Once my current contract term is over and up for renewal, I’ll be asking for a raise to $20 an hour for these additional services. Mary Jane has already said she is more than happy to pay it.
Currently, I am doing mostly companion-type, non-medical work, such as light housekeeping, meal prep, and making sure John takes his meds and “stays out of trouble” while Anna lies down to rest, goes to a doctor’s appointment, or just meets her lady friends for lunch once in a while.
Anna says over and over how much she appreciates me being there. When I arrived for my first visit three weeks ago, she was so worried and stressed out. Every little thing seemed to upset her. Now, I am seeing her smile a lot more, and able to relax. Knowing I have something to do with giving her peace of mind makes me feel really good about my work.
Speaking of work, I am still a manager at the fast-food place I talked about earlier. I mostly work early evening/night shifts and Daniel watches the kids. It’s a little much right now, balancing two jobs and family life, but since this is going so well with John and Anna, I plan to give notice in the next couple weeks at the restaurant so I can expand my caregiver hours to maybe 16 hours a week.
Did I mention the CaregiverUSA apps and website payment system are really awesome? It is so easy – here’s how it works. The care seeker and caregiver agree on a certain amount to be paid during a given time period, say a week, and then the care seeker pays the entire amount for the week upfront, ( i.e. escrows it ) via a third party credit card handling company affiliated with the CGUSA website. The caregiver (that would be me) can then log on and see the money in there. Once the care seeker gives the official OK, the money is transferred to the caregiver’s bank account, minus the 10 percent service charge I mentioned in my last post. In truth, CGUSA gets paid less than 2% of these payment transactions, the bulk goes to the bank handling escrow and payment.
Anyway… considering how much I am liking my new caregiver role in the home healthcare industry, I feel inspired to go for my Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) certification at some point and move up in my career. I may even decide to add a second family (besides John and Anna) depending on what is going on with my own family and their schedules. Seriously, joining the CaregiverUSA network is one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life so far, other than marrying Daniel and giving birth to Lucas and Mia of course!
If you are looking for a career that has flexibility in hours, and can even allow you to set your own price for services, I totally encourage you to explore CaregiverUSA. With a website like this that can help you find work (and get paid) so easily, you can have more work-home life balance and feel great about truly being able to help other people as well.
My name is Sarah… pleased to connect with you online. As I approach my 46th birthday, I am “officially” entering the 21st century era of communications by finally getting around to trying my hand at blogging (better late than never, as they say!) Given the internal challenges I have been facing lately, I expect it will be a therapeutic exercise in laying out my situation and clarifying my thoughts. Meanwhile, I’m hoping you, the reader will find this post to be helpful in some way as, together, we explore the possibility of entering the home health care or personal home healthcare market via the tools CaregiverUSA provides.
Here’s my backstory to give you some context. My husband David, a mid-level accounting manager, and I have been married nearly 19 years and have been busy rearing our two sons, Mike, now 16, and Zach, 14, at our home in a quiet middle-class Columbus, Ohio suburb. While we’ve had our ups and downs like everyone else, overall we have been blessed with good health, a vibrant family life, wonderful friends, and steady employment for David.
I must say David is great – he has always been totally supportive of my decision to resign from my frenzied position as a marketing manager for a major telecom company to be a stay-at-home mom, starting at around age 30. After all, what better investment can parents make than funneling their energy and gifts into their children’s well-being? As we see it, our job is to nurture and develop our sons into caring, responsible human beings who will, hopefully, make the world a better place to live.
To this end, I have proudly and happily worn the multiple hats of full-time homemaker for the last 16 years: layperson nurse, laundress, organic vegetable gardener, bargain shopper, home decorator, wardrobe consultant, meal planner, chief cook and bottle-washer, chauffeur, amateur psychologist, Cub Scout den mother, sports team spectator, PTA chairwoman, social director, church bake sale point person, school basketball team fundraiser, holiday event planner, tutor, and, last but not least, housekeeper and organizer. In fact, I have been accused of being a “neat freak” by the men in my family. So what if I store the canned goods in alphabetical order?
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But, I admit, kids grow up fast and things have changed; the boys don’t need me as much anymore. Mike is able to drive himself and his brother to and from school and their various sports and social activities. Mike got his license the day after his 16th birthday – we were so proud! It stings a little that they are in that phase where they really don’t want mom hanging around too much, particularly when the boys are with their friends.
So, I’ve found I am kind of restless, rather at loose ends at this crossroads in my life’s journey. This means it is time for a new challenge, a positive change. Besides, as David says, “How many times do you need to dust the shower curtains?” David thinks I need to get out of the house and find something I enjoy doing. Granted, while my husband does make reasonably good money, we both realize that with the prospect of putting two boys through college looming on the near horizon, it would be wise to figure out something for me to do that will allow me to put away some cash each week toward their higher education pursuits. I’m sure you’ve heard, in this election year, how college tuition costs are going through the roof! I know we’ll get through it, but we should be proactive in finding ways to increase our household income.
Of course, I’ve ruminated quite a bit about what I should do. Considering how much I enjoyed my former career in marketing, I always thought I could return to it eventually, once my children became more independent. But so much has changed since I left the industry at age 30 – in technology, in new best practices, etc. The learning curve would be very steep. Plus, I’ve heard so much about age bias in hiring (let’s face it – I’m well over 40, it happens) so it’s possible I might hit some resistance re-entering that particular job market. Of course, I know I could prevail, but the thing is, I have to really want it.
Truthfully, I don’t relish the thought of taking on a stressful position, and that certainly comes with the territory in a marketing career. I am really only interested in working part-time, and I considered healthcare, but have decided that at this stage in life, I don’t want to submit to the late-night study sessions and rigors of academia all over again. Because I love healthy cooking so much, I also toyed with the idea of opening my own “organic only” cafe, but David and I eventually decided the hours involved and the financial risk would ultimately not be the best choice for our family.
After much soul-searching, I’ve figured out something I’ve known inside all along but never articulated before. The bottom line is: “I need to be needed.”
But please read on, because an exciting new development is unfolding. Ironically, despite all the things I have been doing the last several years to take care of others, it never crossed my mind that I would consider becoming a professional part-time caregiver – after all, that’s what I’m doing on this CGUSA website. But life has a way of opening up new possibilities where you least expect them.
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Long story short: I love Facebook and these days, I am probably on there a bit too much. Several hours ago, in a light moment, I posted a funny meme about “Pre-empty Nest Syndrome.” It got several likes, which led to an old high school friend, Ashley, messaging me about her new career as a part-time personal caregiver and suggesting it may be good for me, too. Ashley used to tease and call me “Mother Sarah” way back in the day (I loved playing with little kids, and I would always be offering up home remedies to my friends’ random case of sniffles or sore muscles after a softball game). I asked her how she got into this field, given she had been an insurance adjuster for many years, and she told me about how she was able to easily find flexible and convenient work opportunities as a caregiver via CaregiverUSA.
I was interested, of course, but mentioned that I do not have any kind of nursing certification. No worries, said Ashley, neither does she! We actually jumped off Facebook and onto our phones, where we talked about how she was being paid to go into different people’s homes and cook, clean, organize, babysit – all the things I have been doing for years as a homemaker. She was so enthused about convincing me to do this I finally had to beg off the call so I could take action.
You’ve made your case, Ashley, this home caregiver situation is definitely worth looking into!
I am happy to report that I did not procrastinate. I hung up the phone immediately and went to the CaregiverUSA site, which is very easy to navigate, and just signed up, taking about 40 minutes to throw together and submit an appropriate resume highlighting my homemaker skills. I have already received the email acknowledgment for my application.
Ashley says they move quickly and told me I can expect to hear from them in a few days regarding the requisite background check, setting up my profile, etc. She described CGUSA as sort of a home healthcare match-making service and told me there are a lot of people on the site looking for help with elderly parents, Alzheimer’s patients, childcare, housekeeping and errands during illness. Of course, skilled nursing services from Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Certified Nurse Assistants (CNAs) are also in demand. Ashley said in ten days or less, I should be able to start looking at the CGUSA electronic job board for care seekers in my area, and, conversely, have potential employers contact me via specific searches on the website database.
Can all this really be happening so quickly? Absolutely. In this amazing human journey, we’ve all got to “seize the day.” I am so looking forward to seeing how fate will bring me together with “just the right people” at “just the right time” so we can learn, grow, and help each other through life’s joys, trials, and tribulations.
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Looking for the fountain of youth? Pick up a set of dumbbells, a kettle bell or a resistance band. Strength training offers a multitude of benefits, including ramping up your metabolism to help lose or maintain weight.
The CDC asserts that strength training is crucial to weight control, because individuals who have more muscle mass have a higher metabolic rate. Muscle is active tissue that consumes calories while stored fat uses very little energy. Strength training can provide up to a 15 percent increase in metabolic rate, which is enormously helpful for weight loss and long-term weight control.
Strength Train to Feel Better
Regular strength training can help improve balance and reduce fall risk, decrease arthritis pain and strengthen bones, thus reducing fracture risk. It can also improve glucose control, improve sleep quality and state of mind and support better heart health.
Common Questions and Answers About Strength Training
Following are some common questions about strength training, and answers from trusted sources:
Won’t strength training bulk me up?
This question is most commonly asked by women who fear an overly muscular look. The truth is, to bulk up as a bodybuilder aims to do, you would need to spend a significant amount of time lifting very heavy weights andyou would need to be eating a surplus of calories to support building serious muscle mass. You can easily find a strength training program that will help you gain just the right amount of muscle mass to crank up your metabolism and burn stored body fat so you actually end up leaner and tighter. If you combine strength training with a nutrition plan aimed at losing or maintaining weight you will find yourself losing weight or fitting into smaller sizes even if the scale doesn’t move much.
I walk/swim/take Zumba classes – isn’t that good enough?
The CDC reports that “While aerobic exercise, such as walking, jogging, or swimming, has many excellent health benefits — it maintains the heart and lungs and increases cardiovascular fitness and endurance — it does not make your muscles strong. Strength training does. Studies have shown that lifting weights two or three times a week increases strength by building muscle mass and bone density.”
Still not convinced? The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that an increase in muscle that you can’t even see can make it easier to do everyday things like get up from a chair, climb stairs, carry groceries, open jars, and even play with your grandchildren. Lower-body strength exercises also will improve your balance.
Michele Brannock, 69, of Upper Arlington, Ohio, picked up her first kettlebell six years ago. She worked with a trainer for six weeks to master proper form and said she has benefitted tremendously from for this particular form of strength training.
“I stand taller now,” she said. “My balance has improved, I have fewer aches and pains. I don’t have the tummy bulge anymore, and my back pain is completely gone. Nothing else I have done exercise wise has helped by back like training with kettle bells.”
So How Do I Get Started?
The National Institute of Health recommends doing strength training exercises for all of your major muscle groups on two or more days a week. You should not work the same muscle groups two days in a row. Your muscles need 48 hours or more to recover in between strength sessions. So you could either do a full-body strength training routine three days a week – for example, Monday, Wednesday and Friday or Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, or if you prefer to keep your strength sessions shorter, you might break them up into upper-body strength and lower-body strength sessions and work your upper body Monday, Wednesday and Friday and your lower body Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Strength training should complement rather than replace cardiovascular exercise, which is also important, as are balance and flexibility training. Here are more tips to help you look and feel younger:
Depending on your condition, you might need to start with very light weights – 1-3 lb. dumbbells. For exercises in which your bodyweight already provides some resistance – such as squats and lunges, you might not need to use weights at all – at first. Your goal should be to gradually increase the amount of weight you lift in order to continue to progress.
Choose a weight you can lift for 10-15 repetitions. Your first rep should not feel very, very hard, but your final rep should. You want to be able to complete 10-15 repetitions with good form – if you cannot; your weight is too heavy. If you can complete 15 reps and feel like you could still do many more, your weight is too light.
Take at least two counts to lift the weights and two counts to lower them.
Exhale as you lift the weights, and inhale as you lower them. If you cannot sync your breathing perfectly at first, do not stress about it – the most important thing is to never hold your breath while exercising.
You can also join a local gym or recreation center, sign up for a group fitness class, hire a personal trainer or purchase an exercise DVD – or check one out from the library – if you want additional guidance.
According to the Pew Research Center, in 2015, 58 percent of adults ages 65 and older were using the Internet. There are many benefits to be found online, but there are dangers as well. This article will explore both and offer advice to help you surf the web safely.
Benefits of Internet use
Stay connected / reconnect: From e-mail to social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, going online offers easy options to keep in touch with friends and family or even connect with former school pals or co-workers.
Enjoy a smoother customer service experience: Whether you have a question about your gas bill or need to schedule a service appointment for your vehicle, sometimes hopping online can allow you to avoid a frustrating phone call during which you wait on hold for an extended period of time or have to navigate a frustrating voice-prompt phone system.
Tap into a wealth of information right at your fingertips: You can easily research many topics online – from working on your family tree to researching major purchases in advance to learning more about relevant health topics, you can discover a lot by accessing the Internet via your computer, tablet or smart phone. You can even take courses online, whether you want to pursue a degree or certification to change jobs or return to the work force, or you might simply enjoy taking a class because you welcome the challenge and the chance to acquire new knowledge.
Find free or cheap entertainment options: Some people save money by giving up cable service and using a service such as Netflix or Hulu to stream television shows and movies to their computers, tablets, smartphones or televisions via the Internet. You might also enjoy watching funny cat videos on YouTube, looking up song lyrics, reading books and magazines online, discovering bloggers you enjoy following and/or playing online games.
Shop from the comfort of home: You can find just about anything you normally buy at the store online and save time and gas money by shopping online.
Access coupons and other discounts: Many companies offer sales and coupons via their websites, social media pages or e-mail.
Dangers of Internet use
Of course, while there are many benefits to be found online, there are also dangers, so it is important to become savvy about cyber security if you use or are going start or continue Internet use.
Cyber security is general Internet safety, which focuses on protecting computers, networks, programs and data from unintended or unauthorized access, changes or destruction.
“It has been said, just as you use locks to keep criminals out of your home and other personal items, you also need to safeguard and secure your computers and mobile devices such as your cell phone, iPad, etc,” Chief Technical Officer of CaregiverUSA R.E. Dean said.
“Many crimes that occur in real life are now conducted or at least facilitated through the Internet. According to the FBI’s Scams & Safety, many criminals target seniors via e-mails and web sites with scams about charitable donations, auctions, health care and prescription medications. Because they think seniors did not grow up with today’s technology, scammers don’t think seniors will be as savvy about Internet safety and risks. In addition, they feel that seniors are less likely to report scams, because they are simply embarrassed. The best way to protect yourself from scammers is to educate yourself and be proactive.”
How to protect yourself online
The United States Department of Homeland Security offers the following tips for staying safe online:
Choose passwords that mean something to you and you only; use strong passwords with eight characters or more that use a combination of numbers, letters, and symbols.
If you use social networking sites such as Facebook, be sure to limit the amount of personal information you post online and use privacy settings to avoid sharing information widely.
Keep in mind that most businesses or organizations don’t ask for your personal information via e-mail. Beware of any requests to update or confirm your personal information.
Avoid opening attachments, clicking on links, or responding to e-mail messages from unknown senders or companies that ask for your personal information.
Install and regularly update the security programs on your computer, such as anti-virus, and anti-spyware. These programs can help to protect the information on your computer and can easily be purchased from software companies on the web or at your local office supply store.
Beware of “free” gifts or prizes. If something is too good to be true, then it probably is.
It is important to add only people you know on social media sites and programs such as Skype; adding strangers could expose you and your personal information to scammers.
If you seek medical advice online, be sure to find out who is providing the information. Many pharmaceutical companies create websites with information to sell products. Look for sites ending in .edu (for education) or .gov (for government).
Avoid accessing your personal or bank accounts from a public computer or kiosk, such as the public library.
Don’t reveal personally identifiable information such as your bank account number, social security number or date of birth to unknown sources.
When paying a bill online or making an online donation, be sure that you type the website URL into your browser instead of clicking on a link or cutting and pasting it from the email.
When shopping online, make sure the web site address starts with “https.” The “s” stands for secure.
Look for the padlock icon at the bottom of your browser, which indicates that the site uses encryption.
Type new website URLs directly into the address bar instead of clicking on links or cutting and pasting from the email.
Keep your mobile devices in your possession at all times, and always be aware of your surroundings. Click here for more tips regarding mobile devices.
Additional helpful web sites through which you can educate yourself about common scams perpetrated online, learn to protect yourself and even report fraud include:
The federal government’s one-stop resource to help you report and recover from identity theft. This site also has information on warning signs of identity theft and what to do if your information is lost or stolen.
The FBI’s Scams and Safety site, provides tips on how you can protect yourself and your family from fraud.
How CaregiverUSA keeps you safe on our site
Caregiver USA has taken many steps to make sure your experience on our web site will be a safe one. We make sure that all vendors who partner with us discuss their cyber security policy, PCI Data Security Standards (DSS), and are in compliance with Caregiver USA Security policies.
“There are three levels of cyber security, and we have taken great care to ensure that we have taken every step possible to provide maximum security in all three levels,” Mr. Dean said. “At the basic level, we ensure our content management system updates, plugins, and themes use the latest versions. We encourage our site users to use strong usernames and passwords. We back up our web site and system regularly. We use SSL encryption (https://) and we provide information available for system contacts.
“Advanced level Security includes installing a firewall to block potentially dangerous traffic. In addition, when working with third-party software and vendors, we review their standards, policy and compliance documentations.
“High-Level Security includes HIPAA compliance and separate PHI and non-PHI databases,” Mr. Dean said. “We have a disaster recovery strategy in place and a redundancy of hardware strategy. We have a two-factor authentication via an additional login, security via text, code and e-mail link. We make sure the system file/folder permissions are set up properly and ensure site access permissions and/or IP as needed.”
How CaregiverUSA keeps you safe in “real life”
At CaregiverUSA, we are not only concerned with your safety while using our web site but also in real life. We recognize that you are using our site to seek care for yourself or your loved one that will be delivered in person. We have taken many steps to make sure that the professionals you connect with through our site are people you can trust and feel safe letting into your home – people we would trust with our own families and welcome into our own homes.
CaregiverUSA caregivers are trustworthy professionals dedicated to providing high quality, dependable care. Every staff member at CaregiverUSA has been fully screened and has extensive experience. Prior to hiring any care provider, we:
Perform an employment reference check with three references.
Conduct verification of licenses, certifications and registration for positions including but not limited to registered nurse (RN), licensed practical nurse (LPN), certified nursing assistant (CAN) and home health aide (HHA).
Validate work history.
Run comprehensive federal, national, state and county-level background checks on all caregivers.