Caregiver Pay Survey: How Much Should Senior Caregivers be Paid?

Senior caregivers who excel at their work bring compassion and caring to their job duties.  Quality caregiving requires emotional intelligence along with knowledge of how to interact with seniors who are dealing with a variety of health issues.  Learning how to safely transfer someone with mobility issues and provide for personal care and monitoring meals and medications keeps a caregiver busy throughout their day.

Some caregivers have advanced training to work with seniors with memory loss, provide hospice care or rehabilitation after a stroke or hip replacement.

The big question is:  how much should senior caregivers be paid?  Senior care companeis provide for payroll taxes to allow a caregiver to collect Social Security benefits when they retire and provide for unemployment insurance and worker's compensation insurance, as required by law. This guarantees a caregiver they can collect unemployment benefits and receive compensation if they are injured on the job.  Some positions provide for additional benefits.

Share your opinion on senior caregiver pay to help educate the industry and seniors and their families:

Take the Caregiverlist Caregiver Pay Survey

We will share the results on Caregiverlist.

 

Katie Couric & Sesame Street Help Families with Grieving

Katie Couric visited Chicago last Friday and spoke to a group of business owners about current news topics and also shared with us some of her current projects which include a new cancer center in Virginia, in honor of her sister, Emily, who died of pancreatic cancer at age 54.

And, Katie said she was invited to talk about handling grief for a Sesame Street special and the reviews have been very positive - she has already received e-mails from parents who lost a spouse and found the Sesame Street show helps to discuss the loss of a loved one with children.

The Sesame Workshop special, called  "When Families Grieve" features Katie Couric and the Sesame Street Muppets. The show aired on PBS on April 14th and presents the personal stories about coping with the death of a parent and the strategies families have used to move forward.

Caregivers and families may view the special and learn about the grief kits Sesame Street is distributing to military families, by visiting their website.

Caregivers may also share their own caregiving story with others and learn about coping skills for caring for terminal patients on Caregiverlist's Career Center.

Certified Nursing Aide Test Questions

Many senior caregivers are Certified Nursing Aides, Certified Home Health Aides or Certified Personal Care Assistants (the Department of Health in each state establishes the guidelines for caregivers staffed by licensed nursing homes, assisted living companies and senior home care agencies).

The training requirements for certification allow the hiring senior care companies to know the person will understand how to interact and care for seniors appropriately, both physical care and emotional care.  If you are a caregiver interested in obtaining certification or already have certification status in your test (you must complete a certification course at an accredited school, complete clinical assignments in the field and then pass the state exam), you may take answer Caregiverlist's "Question of the Day", take the 10-Question Sample Nursing Aide test or take the full Certified Nursing Aide Practice Test.

What kinds of questions are asked on the Certified Nursing Aide test?  You will find questions about what temperature bath water should be, use of a catheter and feeding tube, memory loss, range-of-motion exercises, bed sores, taking someone's temperature, managing for bed sores and questions about how to properly report certain items to managers and interacting with difficult clients.

Take our Sample Certified Nursing Aide test - it is free and you'll probably learn something and even if you know all the answers, being told you are "brilliant" is kind of nice!

 

 

 

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Senior Caregiver Pay: How Much Should Caregivers Be Paid?

This past weekend the Washington Post magazine published an in-depth story about senior caregiving, profiling a 63-year-old caregiver, Marilyn Daniel, who cares for multiple senior clients as a home health aide.  The story mentions the turnover rate of 40 to 60% for direct-care workers and the low pay.  Although the article says caregiving does not pay much more than minimum wage, which is actually inaccurate, as the federal minimum wage is $6.55 per hour and Marilyn Daniel is paid $12.40 per hour, nearly double the federal minimum wage.

Caregiving actually does pay much more than the minimum wage in every state and Caregiverlist provides the minimum wage information in every state to help caregivers negotiate their pay rate.  The highest minimum wage is in Washington state, at $8.55 per hour, followed by Oregon state at $8.40 per hour and then by California, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, all paying $8.00 per hour.  Most state minimum wages are somewhere between $6.55 and $7.25 per hour.

As is often noted, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the occupation of senior home care aides as the second-fastest-growing occupation in the U.S.A. with projections for a more than 50 percent increase in caregivers during the next decade.

Payroll taxes are typically another 25% of a caregiver's pay (Social Security, Unemployment, Worker's Compensation Insurance), although a caregiver does not see this money as take-home pay, but rather as payments direct to these benefits.

How much do you think caregivers should be paid?  Should there be set increases according to advanced training completed and skills tests?

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Preventing Elder Abuse

Several cases of alleged senior abuse have crept up across the nation during the past month. On March 30, 2009, a 31-year-old former nursing home employee in Oklahoma was accused of abusing his senior patients and videotaping it, according to a Fox 23 news report.

Experts say many of these crimes against the elderly in long-term residential care are never reported to law enforcement or to the state and say it’s imperative for us to always be vigilant if we have a loved one in long-term care,” reported Kaci Christian of FOX 23.  The article describes the shock a family felt when they discovered their 60-year-old female relative, who was living in a nursing home and suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, “badly beaten, with her face swollen and discolored."

There are many ways to reduce the risk of senior abuse. First, consider home-care options that allow more control over the caregivers who are in contact with your loved one.

The process of selecting home care can be overwhelming, with more than 5,000 senior home care agencies nationwide.

The Caregiverlist Checklist for standards of quality care for senior home care agencies is a resource that outlines requirements for safety and consistency in care, making it easier for families to make an educated decision. Regardless of what long-term care option is best suited for your loved one, it helps to be aware of some less obvious warning signs of abuse. The following warning signs are part of an extensive list compiled by the The National Center on Elder Abuse:

  • Broken eyeglasses
  • Physical signs of being subjected to punishment or signs of being restrained
  • Senior’s sudden change in behavior
  • Caregiver’s refusal to allow visitors to see an elder alone
  • Senior acting extremely withdrawn and non-communicative
  • Senior displaying unusual behavior usually attributed to dementia, such as sucking, biting, rocking

If you suspect senior abuse, call the NCEA hotline at 1-800-677-1116. The NCEA web site offers a host of additional information on identifying elder abuse.

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Nursing Home Shootings

Yesterday, a Certified Nursing Aide's estranged husband entered a nursing home in Carthage, North Carolina, where she was employed, and killed 7 residents and a nurse during his shooting rampage. 

Usually the nursing home deaths which make the news are related to mistreatment of residents or improper care procedures which lead to death.  This is one of the reasons more people are opting for care in the home, instead of a nursing home, especially for short-term care needs, as a one-on-one caregiver can often deliver better care.

Nursing home incidents which result in inferior care are usually connected to staffing issues.  Sometimes nursing homes staff only 1 nursing aide to as many as 15 residents.  This is why many times experienced Certified Nursing Aides will move into home care positions where they know they can provide quality care to just one client,.

Earlier this year, an Itasca, Illinois nursing home employee watched television for more than an hour and ignored the alarm that indicated a woman with Alzheimer's disease was wandering.  The elderly resident went outside in freezing temperatures and her frozen body was later found in the facility's courtyard.

The employee was charged with criminal neglect.

Senior Home Care Agencies provide professionally managed caregivers for seniors and these caregivers are usually highly qualified and experienced.  Home care agencies perform background checks on all caregivers and also train and actively manage the caregivers for each assignment.

You can learn about the background check laws in each state on Caregiverlist's "by state" information section (because as in the situation above, it is also important that companies do not hire someone who has demonstrated poor judgement in the past.  Most career caregivers want to receive high recommendations from their managers as they know they will need to be reassigned after a current client's condition improves or after the senior passes. And, as they have invested in training to become a professional caregiver, they want to continue to be employed).
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The Five Wishes: An Easy Living Will

The Five Wishes is a document which was created to serve as a living will and provides questions to prompt you to think about how you would like your medical treatments and care to be provided if you were unable to speak or communicate these desires for yourself.  This living will document accounts for your medical, personal, emotional and physical needs.  It has been called a "living will with a heart". 

When I owned a Senior Home Care Agency, I placed a bulk order for the Five Wishes and gave many copies to client's family members.  The Five Wishes makes sure all the specific questions about care are answered.  For instance, laws can vary slightly in each state regarding to what is life support (is it both a feeding tube and a breathing apparatus)?  The Five Wishes is honored in 40 states and provides a starting point for you if you don't live in one of the 40 states.

Save money on Last Will and Testament

People of all ages, not just seniors, should take the time to create a living will so that family caregivers will know your desires.  The Five Wishes makes this an educational and easy task.  Definitely if you are a senior or if you do not know what your senior parent's wishes are, the Five Wishes can be a nice starting place for a discussion.

I really like The Five Wishes because it breaks it all down into specifics:  do you want life-support if you are sure to die in a short time or if you are in a coma and not expected to wake up or if you have permanent and severe brain damage and are not expected to recover?

The Five Wishes

Wish 1:  The person I want to make health care decisions for me when I can't make them for myself

Wish 2:  My wish for the kind of medical treatment I want or don't want

Wish 3:  My wish for how comfortable I want to be

Wish 4:  My wish for how I want people to treat me

Wish 5:  My wish for what I want my loved ones to know

There is a page for witness signatures and wallet cards are provided.

Creating a living will in the form of the Five Wishes makes sure you will have your desires spelled out and will prevent added stress for family members who may all have their own beliefs and desires, which may differ from yours.  You will be able to avoid a Terry Schiavo situation where the husband wanted life support removed after 15 years and her parents did not (the autopsy did confirm her brain was severly damaged, weighing half of a normal human brain, which meant she was unable to think, feel, see or interact in any way with her environment - for all that time).

The Five Wishes was introduced and originally distributed with support from a grant by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care.

You may order a copy of The Five Wishes for $5.00 from www.agingwithdignity.com (just $1.00 per copy if you order 25 or more copies).

 

 

 

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Ronald Reagan: We are All the Same When it Comes to Aging

About ten years ago, I was in Los Angeles attending a trade show for business.  At the end of the trip, I had made plans to meet a former intern for brunch before flying out of town.  We decided she would pick me up at my hotel, we would grab brunch and then she would drive me to the airport so we would have more time to catch-up (she was pursuing an acting career and had some good stories to share).

We decided to go to a hotel restaurant on the beach in Santa Monica since it was on the way to the airport.  We had not made reservations anywhere because we knew we would be so busy talking that any place would do.  The Concierge informed us that their restaurant was booked, but, if we didn't mind, they would seat us in their breezeway section, right off the hotel lobby as their outside patio was closed.  We said that would be fine.

We sat down and proceeded to start talking away.  A little later a few people sat down at the other table near us but we didn't really pay attention to them as we were deep in conversation.

The waitress brought our omelets and then she delivered a bowl of fruit to the table next to us and said, very loud and slowly, "Here you go, here is your fruit".  My friend turned to me and said, "She is talking to them like they are in an old folk's home".  I looked up and then I realized that the person sitting at the other table was former President Ronald Reagan and his nurse and 2 Secret Service officers. 

He had a baseball cap on and took it off and read the name of the team logo on it as if he were seeing it for the first time.  He then looked up at me and waved and then said something to his nurse and pointed at me.  I winked at her to let her know that I knew the situation and that everything was cool.  She then said to me, "he is flirting with you".  We then all laughed and so did he.  He seemed to think that I was someone he knew. 

We continued with our breakfast and they continued with theirs.  One of the Secret Service officers came over to our table to say hello and told us that they had just gone for a walk on the beach and sometimes stopped in for breakfast afterwards (I think he probably really was flirting with us).  President Reagan finished his breakfast at about the same time we finished ours.  We decided we would hit the bathroom and then leave.  The Secret Service officers and the nurse told President Reagan it was time to go but he did not want to get up.  After we finished in the bathroom, he was still sitting at the table, refusing to leave.  The Secret Service officer said goodbye to us and said that this happens sometimes with the President - I told him I understood because we experienced the same thing with my own grandfather when he had Alzheimer's Disease.

It was amazing to me that we were next to a man who had been president of the United States for two terms but no one in this busy restaurant and hotel even knew he was there - he was sitting in the "leftover" section with us.  For all his success, he was just another guy trying to get through another day while dealing with the effects of Alzheimer's Disease.

"Meet them where they are" is the advice given to caregivers.  No matter who you are or what you've done in this lifetime, we are all equals when it comes to aging.

And that's my story about breakfast with the President.

 

 

 

 

 

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