Caregiver Certification

How do you become certified as a senior caregiver?

Certification is not required for companion senior home care in most states.  However, by becoming certified, you will increase your prospects of being hired as the certification demonstrates you have completed training and  and possess certain skills by passing a certification exam.

Every state provides training programs and exams for certification as a Certified Nursing Aide.  Some states also provide additional certification as home health aides and personal care aides.

Learn about the certification process and take a sample or practice C.N.A. exam to sharpen your skills and explore nursing aide certification programs in your area on Caregiverlist.



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Senior Caregiving Jobs

What positions are available in senior caregiving?

Anyone who has compassion for seniors and is willing to learn about caring for someone coping with age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer's Disease or Parkinson's Disease, can work as a companion caregiver for a senior, assisting them in their homes or in assisted living communities.

What other skills are necessary? 

  • Dependability
  • Physical Agility
  • Friendly Personality
  • Team Player

If you are interested in providing more hands-on care for seniors, including assisting with dressing, bathing, toileting and physical exercises, you may be employed as a Certified Nursing Aide (C.N.A.) after successfully graduating from a nursing aide training program and passing the state exam.

Each state has requirements for classroom and field training for nursing aides and you may learn more about the C.N.A. training provided, take a sample C.N.A. test or practice C.N.A. test to see if you would be interested in the certification.

Nursing aides make a higher salary than companion caregivers and are in great demand by employers - from senior home care agencies to assisted living centers to nursing homes and hospitals and hospices.  You may apply for a senior caregiving position in your area to begin working in the senior care industry.  As seniors may be quickly discharged from a hospital and still need caregiving assistance, or family members discover more care is needed as a senior experiences memory loss, new caregiving jobs are constantly opening each day.



C.N.A. Practice Test

Are you considering becoming a certified nursing aide?  Curious about the questions the exam will ask?

You can learn about nursing aide programs in your area, including the costs and length of the program (usually around 6-weeks long) and take Caregiverlist's sample nursing aide test or practice nursing aide test, with official questions from the state-administered nursing aide exams.

As the senior population continues to age, the senior care field will be one of the top industries for jobs in the coming decade. By gaining more training, you will be qualified for a wide variety of positions, from hospice care to hospitals to home care.

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Becoming a Certified Nursing Aide

Many senior caregivers may come to the profession through caring for a family member or personal friend.  Many of their caregiving skills have been developed "on the job".

Senior care companies provide services staffed by both companion caregivers and certified nursing aides, depending upon the care needs of the client.  Seniors who are dealing with the challenges of memory loss or need extra assistance with their daily household tasks, may only require the services of a companion caregiver.  However, seniors who are suffering from more advanced stages of age-related illnesses, such as Parkinson's Disease and Alzheimer's Disease or who are on hospice care, may require around-the-clock care and assistance with all aspects of daily living.  A certified nursing aide is required for these care assignments.

How do you become a certified nursing aide?

  • Attend an approved nursing aide training program
  • Complete the classroom and field work
  • Take the state nursing aide exam

Once you have passed the state nursing aide exam, you will be able to be hired as a C.N.A.  You may learn more about the skills certified nursing aides learn, find a certification training program near you and apply for a senior care job to begin developing your skills.

As the senior population continues to grow, job opportunities for C.N.A.'s will continue to be plentiful at hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living communities, hospices and senior home care agencies.


CLASS Act Passes Senate: Natl. Long-term Care Insurance

The Senate passed the Community Living Assistance and Support Services (CLASS) Act on Friday, December 4th, making this act an approved portion of the healthcare reform bill.  The word on the street is the healthcare bill will pass, in some form, and this portion of the bill has now been approved.

What is it?

The CLASS Act allows Americans to contribute, through payroll deductions, to this long-term care insurance program.  After 5 years of paying into the program, benefits may be paid, if assistance is needed for a minimum of 2 Activities of Daily Living.

The purpose of the program is to provide an alternative to nursing home care for people with disabilities and seniors.  It will also allow family members to be able to continue to work and pay for a caregiver. 

Average policy premium?  About $50 per month.

Average amount of daily benefit?  About $75 per month.

How will the benefit be paid for? Through the insurance policy premiums - - this was fashioned to follow how private insurance is operated - which can be extremely profitable when managed well.  The government did have actuaries crunch the numbers for this insurance program (yep, there is a reason why Warren Buffett, one of the wealthiest guys in the U.S.A., likes to buy insurance companies - - many more people pay into premiums than collect on them and interest can be earned on the money in the meantime).  The premiums will be age-adjusted and contributions must be made for 5 years before someone can file a benefit claim.  And, the government can't "borrow" from this money to pay for other programs.

By delaying and preventing nursing home admissions, the CLASS Act will also decrease costs for Medicaid, which only provides for care in a nursing home. 

The risk?  It will be important for participation rates to be high.

Learn more about the CLASS Act and read the statement prepared for the Senate by Massachusett's Senator Kirk, who filled former Senator Edward Kennedy's seat - - Senator Kennedy had been a proponet of the CLASS Act as a way to allow seniors and the disabled to remain in their homes and afford at least part-time care.



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Healthcare Reform: Don't Forget Billions in Medicare Fraud

As the Senate debates healthcare reform and how the additional coverages would be provided, why aren't they talking about the $90 billion that has been given away for free through Medicare fraud?

A private company would close their doors if all of their earnings were being stolen by clients.  Why does the government create programs which make it possible for fraud to easily take place? 

Those of us in the healthcare industry are aware of the stories which circulate about medical equipment companies who are billing improperly to Medicare (even the Scooter Store, which advertises heavily on television with infomercials, settled a lawsuit with the federal government after an employee blew the whistle on improper claims).  Part of the problem stems from government programs which make some reimbursements a bit too large, as compared to the profitability a company would earn in the private sector - but shouldn't government pay the same as the private sector pays for products (or less, if they are guaranteeing bulk orders)?

From the government's news release on the Scooter Store fraud:

"By representing to physicians that their patients wanted and needed power wheelchairs, The SCOOTER Store obtained thousands of “Certificates of Medical Necessity” from physicians who did not know about the company’s fraudulent practices. The SCOOTER Store then billed government and private health care insurers for power wheelchairs, which were far more costly than power scooters, and collected millions of Medicare and Medicaid dollars.

The SCOOTER Store received $5,000 to $7,000 in reimbursement for each power wheelchair it sold, more than twice the amount for a scooter, which sold for around $1,500 to $2,000. Many beneficiaries had no idea what kind of equipment they were getting, until it was delivered by The SCOOTER Store.

The government’s lawsuit also alleged that The SCOOTER Store knowingly sold used power mobility equipment to beneficiaries and billed Medicare as if the equipment were new, in violation of Medicare regulations. In addition, the U.S. alleged that The SCOOTER Store charged Medicare millions for unnecessary power mobility accessories."

If seems if the government could just cut out the programs that have a bit too much frosting and whipped cream on top for certain industries, and created efficient systems for reimbursement, the billions in fraud that are saved would more than pay for additional healthcare benefits.

Check out this 60 Minutes story which aired on October 25, 2009, and profiles the billions being stolen from Medicare via fraudulent claims.  It seems it would not be that difficult to set up a better system for checking out claims to avoid this fraud, especially when people aren't just stealing a million or two million, but million after million after million without being caught. 

Medicare does not pay for long-term care and because of this, many seniors must hire their own senior caregiver and the additional cost of providing health insurance for senior caregivers is not always covered by small businesses or when a caregiver is hired directly (or when a family member must quit their job to provide for the care). 

Meanwhile, studies show the most important factor in senior care is one-on-one care services by a caregiver.  Even Medicaid-funded nursing homes often do not staff more than 1 Certified Nursing Aide for each 12 residents, which often means this nursing aide cannot adequately provide care to each senior. 

It seems eliminating the extremely high Medicare reimbursements for some medical equipment would be the first easy fix to help pay for more health insurace benefits for Americans, including benefits for senior caregivers.




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An Enduring Sympathy Gift

While caregiving brings fuflillment, it also brings learning to cope with loss.  When a caregiver loses the person they have been caring for, it is important to process the grief.  Hospice caregivers receive special training in caring for terminal seniors.  By knowing you have made the senior's life a little better as their caregiver, you are able to keep this memory.

However, it is still difficult to lose someone when you have been assisting with all of their personal care needs.

An innovative company has created customzied "throws" which can have photos and poems printed on them so that you can keep memories of your lost loved one near you (and stay warm).  We just wanted to share this as the idea was new to us and is something besides flowers that you can give to someone who has just lost a loved one, or buy for yourself as you honor the process of grief.

Woven Embrace is the company and they told us the Red Tractor and the Broken Chain are their top sellers.  You can purchase a preprinted throw or upload a photo to create your own.



New Robotic Caregiver: the CareBot

In development for a few years, a new robotic caregiver is now being tested in senior's homes.  The CareBot, developed by GeckoSystems, is now doing caregiver duties through in-home trials.  The robot, which can be programmed to speak in various tones and to speak certain words in response to questions, can assist with daily tasks and give reminders to a senior with memory loss.

Manufactured out of steel, aluminum and plastic, the CareBot moves around on two wheels.  The onboard computers, combined with lots of software allow CareBot to be remotely accessed for video and audio monitoring.

The target market for the CareBot is seniors over age 65, who live alone in large metropolitan areas with braodband internet service available.  The company likens the CareBot to another home appliance, such as the dishwasher, as it can do tasks to help caregivers and seniors save time.

What tasks can the CareBot do?

  • Tells Jokes
  • Announce Medication Reminders
  • Play Songs
  • Alert When Visitors Arrive at Door
  • Give Reminders ("Your daughter will be here at 10 a.m.")
  • Give Notifications to other Caregivers (if a fall occurs)
  • Visit Family Virtually through Video System

Cost? The company says the financial payback for seniros will take place in a year - so the cost is more than a few laptop computers. The CareBot is not yet ready for market and an exact price is not available.  The company has spent $6 million on development and expects to offer the CareBot through computer retailers in 4 to 6 months.

While advances in technology are assisting seniors to live longer, the CareBot brings a technology solution to caregiving, to assist seniors to live at home longer.  However, no computer will ever be able to replace the human heart when it comes to caregiving.

But if it can fold clothes, I'll take one!


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Caregiverlist Quality Standards

Many times, senior care services are needed quickly, after a hospital or nursing home discharge (as Medicare only pays for up to 100 days of each nursing home stay).   The decision for senior care must be made quickly to accommodate both the care needs and the senior's budget.

There are no national licensing requirements for senior home care agencies.  Some states do require special licenses for senior home care agencies which include requiring caregiver training and care plans.  Other states only require a business license for the agency to operate.

Caregiverlist provides a set of quality standards, based on the experiences of senior care industry professionals.

These quality standards include hiring the caregiver as an employee, in order to provide for their payroll taxes and worker's compensation insurance so that the senior and their family is not liable if for the caregiver's taxes and for any injuries that could occur while the caregiver is working.  Active management by a Care Manager, along with a plan of care to follow and professional fidelity bond insurance is also required. 

It is also a good idea to consider the ongoing care needs of the senior to plan ahead for possible moves to assisted living or the purchase of long-term care insurance before an emergency arises.

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