How To Become A Caregiver In New Jersey
Are you interested in learning more about how to become a caregiver specializing in senior care?
If so, you are on your way to a career path that not only honors your desire to care for others but that also works to make our world a better place.
How To Become A Professional Senior Caregiver
According to a recent AARP survey, “…76% of Americans age 50 and older say they prefer to remain in their current residence and 77% would like to live in their community as long as possible.” Aging-in-place with one’s dignity, community, and wellbeing intact relies on a support network that includes high-quality, certified home health aides (CHHAs).
CHHAs serve in a range of capacities for their senior clients, ranging from companions or drivers to errand running, grocery shopping, meal preparation, light housekeeping, and daily hygiene care. While experience in senior care or home caregiving for a family member can certainly support your path, direct patient care experience is not necessary to begin your journey towards becoming a caregiver.
Here are some of the ways you can begin working as a professional caregiver.
Caregivers often start at home
Many of our caregivers got their start at home, caring for their own aging parents, grandparents, or other family members. Caregiving is rewarding, and it can also be demanding. Those who truly understand the daily demands faced by a home caregiver realize how important it is for qualified caregivers to be part of the equation. That often inspires prospective caregivers to give back by providing care to others.
When their “shifts” as family caregivers wind down or come to an end, professional CHHAs frequently realize they have found their calling and begin looking for jobs in the caregiving, home health, or senior care arenas.
Caregiving was a calling from the start
For others, the call to be a senior caregiver was there early on. Many of our employees speak about how they felt different or “odd” as a child because they preferred spending time listening to their elders’ stories, or providing a helping hand to senior relatives or neighbors, rather than hanging out with their peers. This was their first inkling that they had a future in senior care.
Duties & Job Requirements Of A Senior Caregiver
The duties and job requirements to become a home care provider may vary from agency to agency, but some of the most common services provided by senior home care aides include:
- Companionship (reading, conversing, playing cards or games, reminiscing over or assembling photo albums, accompanying seniors to various social engagements or outings, etc.)
- Light housekeeping
- Laundry and linen changes
- Errand running
- Grocery shopping
- Daily hygiene care (dressing, bathing, toileting, etc.)
- Transportation services
- Meal preparation
- Medication reminders
- Nutrition monitoring
- Facilitating regular exercise/movement
Your job also requires you to be in regular communication with the case manager and/or supervisors as well as the client’s family. This may include interaction with whatever communication or TeleHealth software is used by your employer.
Other job or hiring requirements include:
- Being 18-years old or older
- Having a high school diploma or equivalent
- Having a lean DMV record
- Passing complete state and federal background checks
- Providing positive, verifiable work references (when possible)
- Willingness to continue your education/training through the avenues utilized by your employer
- Completing training/licensing approved by the Board of Nursing in NJ (depending on the agency – some do not require this)
Another appealing aspect of becoming a caregiver is that your role can be flexible. Senior care agencies hire both part-time and full-time aides, and shifts span all hours of the day and night offering unique flexibility.
Steps For Becoming A Caregiver
If you feel the role of senior care aide calls you, it’s time to move forward. Sometimes, this job leads to continuing education and career growth, inspiring CHHAs to branch into other health careers such as LVNs, geriatric nutritionists, physical therapists, RNs, grief counselors, etc.
Get a job and learn through experience/training
There are two ways you can work to become a CHHA in New Jersey. The first is getting a job as a senior companion or staff member for a licensed home care agency. This is a good way to get your feet wet, see what the senior care realm entails, and determine whether or not you want to continue with licensing.
Some agencies will even help you pay for or provide the training required to become a licensed CHHA in New Jersey.
Pursue a CHHA license on your own
If you are confident that becoming a CHHA is the path for you, it may be worth the investment to get your license before applying for a job. There is no doubt that an applicant who is already a licensed CHHA will have a step-up in the application process.
Visit the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs Page, Certified Homemaker-Home Health Aides, to learn more about the steps required to pursue CHHA training and licensure.
The Home Care World Is Wide Open To You
Within your role as a senior care aide, you will be exposed to a wide range of home health care providers and services. This includes things like:
- Certified Nurse Assistant (CNAs)
- Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs)
- Registered Nurses (RNs)
- Social workers
- Mental health professionals
- Hospice/palliative care teams
- Occupational and/or physical therapists
- Respiratory therapists
While most senior care aides find their work is exactly the fit for them, some may come to realize that other senior care or home health positions are calling. From there, they continue their education and training until they work into the position that is right for them.
The first step is to connect with licensed senior care agencies in your area to find out more about their positions and job requirements and to learn more about this rewarding career.