Maria Sonnenberg – Special to FLORIDA TODAY
While restaurant, tourism and other industries continue to struggle through the pandemic, one career path remains wide open.
According to Home Health Care News, COVID-19 is anticipated to increase demand for home health care workers such as home health aides and certified nursing assistants.
Locally, the need is already there, as reflected by a caregiving career fair Nov. 6 hosted by Senior Partner care Services at One Senior Place.
Interest in caregivers has increased since COVID for several reasons.
The pandemic forced cancellation of many elective surgeries, but those restrictions have now largely been lifted, creating additional opportunities for caregivers as patients opt to recuperate at home rather than in a facility.
These individuals, many of them elderly, need someone to help them with bathing, dressing, personal care and medication management, as well as with meals, housekeeping and laundry.
Additionally, the emotionally-enriching experience a caregiver can provide has become even more significant for people who are basically shut-ins.
“The caregiver’s role, as it had in the past, includes assistance with activities of daily living, transportation, light housekeeping and meal prep, but since COVID, I think that socialization and companionship has been an even larger focus for caregivers,” said registered nurse Lisa Conway, an aging life professional with Senior Partner Care Services. “Many families and even facilities are hiring caregivers to serve as companions to increase the interaction and human contact that their loved ones receive to help to try to combat or decrease that anxiety and depression.”
Studies show that many clients are becoming depressed, feeling more anxious and even becoming physically ill due to change in routine and lack of interaction.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America notes anxiety disorders affect 18 percent of the population and that approximately 7 percent of the population suffer from major depressive disorder.
Caregivers can help relieve the anxiety and depression by opening up avenues for communication not just by their presence, but also by helping connect clients with loved ones via technology, help them to access telehealth services and even providing them with virtual mini-vacations.
“Caregivers prior to COVID would take their clients to church, to play cards, to get their hair done, to attend a luncheon with friend, but these activities have all but ceased due to COVID, especially for those in the most vulnerable populations,” Conway said. “Caregivers are now helping clients interact with family and friends via Zoom meetings. Instead of being able to take a client to the library or museum, they are able to take them on virtual tours.”
The business of caregiving can be a viable option for displaced workers in other sectors.
“These jobs are suitable for someone who may be looking to make a change or someone that has lost their job,” Conway said. “If they do not have the certifications needed, we will have information on scholarships and how and where to receive the required education.”
For some positions, the education to get started can be gained in as little as three weeks. Often, no prior healthcare work experience is required, aside from the classroom and practice hours outlined in state-approved programs.
Those interested starting a caregiving career, the Fair will provide enrollment information for the needed three-week and six-week certification courses. Eighty-five percent tuition waivers are currently available for up to 14 new home health aide students.
In terms of prerequisites, a good heart is primarily what is needed to succeed.
“The most important requirement for these positions is the desire to help someone and increase the quality of their life,” Conway said. “Patience and compassion would also be important. Sometimes, all it takes is a few minutes to sit and listen to a client tell a story about their life and you will see their eyes light up.”
With an average pay of $11.17 an hour for home health aides and $12.88 an hour for certified nursing assistants(payscale.com), caregiving careers are not high income, but they can provide plenty of job satisfaction.
Even if only as a temporary career change, caregiving can increase empathy or “emotional intelligence,” a quality considered invaluable across many industries.
“To the right person, caregiving is a rewarding and fulfilling career,” Conway said.
Senior Partner Care Services will host a “Care Fair” from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday, Nov. 6, at One Senior Place, 8085 Spyglass Hill Rd., Viera.
The event will provide both information and on-the-spot interviews for available jobs in caregiving.
Applicants will receive a $10 Chick-fil-A gift card and will be registered in a drawing for a 32″ flat screen television. For more details, call 321-751-6771 or see OneSeniorPlace.com.
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About Senior Partner Care Services – In Brevard County, Florida since 1998, Senior Partner Care Services helps elderly clients continue to live safely and independently at home by providing them with a reliable and affordable source of high quality non-medical home care. Senior Partner Care Services offers extra assistance including meal preparation, light housekeeping, laundry, transportation, errands, incontinence care, medication monitoring and reminders, bathing, dressing, personal care assistance, socialization and communication and extra supervision for safety. No long term commitment is required. Licensed/Bonded/Insured, License#NR30211049.
Professional Care Managers advocate on behalf of patients/clients through a professional and collaborative process that assesses, plans, implements, coordinates, monitors and evaluates the options and services to meet an individual’s health needs. Care Managers provide support for client and family to improve patient care and reduce the need for medical services by helping clients effectively manage health conditions. To contact Senior Partner Care Services directly, call 321-253-6336, monitored 24 hours a day.
About One Senior Place– Now in its 14th year, One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging, is a marketplace of resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their family caregivers in Central and East Central Florida. Completely unique, One Senior Place at 8085 Spyglass Hill Road in Viera is a one-stop information hub and mini-mall “revolutionizing the way America shops for elder care and services.” One Senior Place is home to a wide variety of senior-focused businesses, a resource library and is the site of educational seminars and presentations for seniors. In 2008, One Senior Place was named Florida’s Small Business of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration. In Brevard, they were honored as Business of the Year by the Melbourne Regional Chamber of Commerce. A second location, One Senior Place Orlando, opened in Altamonte Springs in December of 2011. More information about One Senior Place and One Senior Place Orlando can be found on the company website at OneSeniorPlace.com or by calling 321-751-6771. View their video at https://youtu.be/RxFCCL0wnRY.