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Caregiving: One Size Does Not Fit All

Caregiving is an area of health care where one size DOES NOT fit all. Every caregiver provides unique care depending on the recipient of care. Caregivers are described as people who “provide care to people who need some degree of ongoing assistance with everyday tasks on a regular or daily basis. The recipients of care can live either in residential or institutional settings, range from children to older adults, and have chronic illnesses or disabling conditions” (CDC, 2022).

Surprisingly, in the United States alone, approximately one in four people are considered caregivers. Often, these caregivers are classified as “informal” or “unpaid carers” due to the fact that they are providing care to family members or friends, and are not receiving any payment from health insurance companies, private companies, or government programs. Shockingly, “the one-year value of this unpaid caregiver activity was estimated as $450 billion dollars in 2009” (CDC, 2022).

The reason this value is so shocking is that these caregivers are providing a crucial service to our society and deserve to be reimbursed for their actions. This would not only make the system more equitable for all but would help recruit more caregivers to alleviate serious disparities in healthcare access.

Many people wonder if they can be compensated for the countless hours that they spend caregiving. The short answer to this question is yes, it is possible, but the process is complex. Here is a valuable link/resource you can use to determine if you qualify to be paid as an informal caregiver.

Receiving formal caregiver education training may help caregivers achieve certification and become qualified to be reimbursed by health insurance companies and/or government assistance programs. There are many types of caregiver training programs available across the globe. Caregivers can be classified as companion caregivers, personal caregivers, home health aides, or certified nursing assistants.

While these classifications are generally the same, caregivers who receive a state certification may be allowed to perform more advanced medical care and receive payment for their services. In the United States, requirements for caregivers are dictated by state requirements. Some states require “certification,” whereas other states do not require it.

Some states mandate specific topics, or caregiver course requirements, along with a specific number of hours the training should take. Additionally, some states require “clinical” or “lab” time for students to practice their newly acquired skills. Our online-only program does not provide the in-person verification of skills competency (lab experience), or the direct patient care experience (clinical), that are generally required for certification. Despite this, some states have less formal requirements. For example, in Alabama, there are no licensing requirements or medical training required to be considered a personal caregiver. A "caregiver license" is not really a term that is used, instead, caregivers are “certified” to confirm they have met the training requirements in their state.

Many caregiver courses commonly include the topics of communication, transfers, infection control, environmental safety, emergency planning, HIPAA, documentation of care, nutrition, activities of daily living, and age-related diseases. Our program covers all of these topics in great detail and includes a much more in-depth exploration of what it takes to be a compassionate care provider. See the graphic below for an outline of our course contents.

Regardless of whether “certification” is required, we at OTS would highly recommend completing a caregiver training course prior to caring for anyone (friend, family, client, etc). We recommend receiving some sort of education so you, the caregiver, can provide safe and effective care. If you are specifically interested in becoming a “certified” provider, you must check with your state, or country if international, as to what requirements you must satisfy. If you need any assistance or have any questions about becoming a caregiver, please contact us today!

We look forward to seeing you in the field of caregiving!

Christina Brown, RN, MSN

Centers for Disease Control (CDC). (2022). Caregiving. Retrieved from

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