Learn what makes a good respite care provider and how to become one.
Could a respite care job be in your future?
Not sure what that means? Read up on What Is Respite Care? »
This type of job might be tough and demanding, but if you have compassion and empathy and a desire to help people, it's also one of the most satisfying. When a caregiver comes home refreshed from some time away and confident that you have everything under control at home, you're instantly rewarded.
Do I Need Respite Care Certification?
But if this job interests you and you have no training, how do you start?
"While there is no special training or certification required to be a respite care provider, you must meet certain guidelines," says Kelli Davidson, author of "Taking Care of Mom and Dad."
For instance, you must:
- Be age 18 or older
- Have a social security number and social security card
- Live outside the caregiver's home
Your state's nurse aid registry (may be called a long-term care registry) can let you know about any state-specific requirements.
Davidson also suggests becoming bonded -- an insurance protection which offers compensation if a caregiver ever steals something. Bonding is a good-faith effort to show you're trustworthy.
How Should I Prepare to Be a Respite Caregiver?
You don't need a lot of education to provide respite, but to become a great respite provider, complete some training to update your skills and make them relevant. For example, fill out your caregiver resume by taking classes in:
- CPR and first aid
- Sign language
- Behavior management
Some providers also attend classes and complete a required test to become a certified nursing assistant or CNA. While you you'll gain knowledge and experience from the in-depth training, becoming a CNA is not a requirement for being a great respite provider, says Edgar.
Don't discount other valuable experience that you may have. Have you worked as a special education teacher, volunteered at a senior center, taken care of an elderly relative acted as the go-to person for your friend with a special needs child? That experience counts, says Edgar. You can also shadow another respite provider to gain a sense of what a day might look like.
Try to tailor your training to the people you'll be working with. "If the person you are going to be caring for has a specific disease process, learn all you can about how the disease works and what to expect when caring for the individual," suggests Davidson.
How Can I Find a Job as a Respite Caregiver?
Davidson recommends advertising your services in adult day health facilities or with your local Area Agency on Aging. And Edgar suggests spreading the word through your faith-based or school communities and anywhere else care receivers and/or caregivers gather.
You can also create a profile on Care.com and apply to respite care jobs.
Remember that respite jobs vary greatly -- you can take care of elderly patients who just need companionship or those with severe dementia who need more help. You could also work with developmentally delayed adults or children with special needs.
"Ask yourself what population do you want to work with?" says Maggie Edgar, RN, MSW and senior consultant with ARCH National Respite Network and Resources Center. Figuring that out will help you fine-tune your job search targets and determine what training you need.
Then get ready to work. The family members who care for their loved ones regularly need a break -- and you're there to provide it.
As you start accepting opportunities with families, ask them to review your services on your profile. It will improve your profile and help you get more jobs. Learn more about How to Get Reviews on Care.com »
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Julia Quinn-Szcesuil is an award-winning freelance writer and a mom to two girls. She lives in Massachusetts and has written for local and national publications.