New Certification Raises Standard for In-Home Caregivers

The senior care industry has grown dramatically in recent years along with the number of seniors needing care. Some seniors move into assisted living facilities or skilled nursing facilities as chronic conditions begin to affect their daily lives. Many more, however, are choosing to remain in their own homes with the help of companion caregivers. “Home is where the heart is” as the saying goes. But it can be difficult to find reliable help and the skills and quality of caregivers can vary greatly. Add to that limited supervision of those caregivers, if any, and home care comes with a set of uncertainties all its own. But one senior care network is changing all that with a landmark program aimed at setting a new standard for senior home care.

Hired caregivers, also called companion aides, frequently perform daily services for seniors including light housekeeping, laundry, meal prep, shopping and errand services. They may also provide personal care assistance for their clients such as bathing, dressing, grooming, and transfer and ambulation assistance. They often serve clients recovering from injury, surgery, and those suffering from arthritis, heart disease, and other chronic conditions. A growing number of caregivers are the sole custodians of seniors suffering from Alzheimers disease and other dementias. Under these circumstances, a caregiver’s responsibility can be very great. One might expect the average caregiver to be a highly trained professional. In contrast, however, the occupational characteristics of the typical caregiver, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, are characterized by low skill requirements and high emotional demands. Frequently, caregivers rely only on care experience they gained while caring for an ailing family member. They then hire themselves out, either independently or via an agency, to perform similar care for others. Unfortunately, each caregiver’s personal experience and skill level can vary greatly.

According to, Susan Dost, owner of Sheridan Care in Los Angeles, California, “Training, or lack of it, is the issue. We’ve always insisted on a standardized training program for our caregivers. But we’re an exception. Many companion care companies, some of them franchises, offer very limited caregiver training. And some provide no skills training at all to their employees. Independent caregivers, those who are not affiliated with any agency, certainly don’t seek training. That’s a scary situation when you are hiring someone to care for yourself or a loved one.”

Most care agencies depend on the personal experience that each new caregiver brings with them. Without a training program, there’s no predictable skill standard. Until recently, the only consistent measure of skill was among state certified nursing assistants and home health aides, most of whom work for hospitals, facilities and home-health companies. It’s clear, however, that a majority of seniors prefer to remain in their own homes and will continue to rely on companion caregivers for ongoing assistance.

To rectify the varying skill set of caregivers, The Senior’s Choice, Inc, the leading membership network of independent companion care companies, has established a new certification for companion caregivers, the Certified Companion Aide, (CCA® ). Steve Everhart, president and founder of The Senior’s Choice stated, “Our mission is simple, we want to ensure the best home care possible for seniors – they’ve earned it, they deserve it. The CCA® will stand head and shoulders above standard caregivers in both education and skill. And the type of person drawn to the CCA is big-hearted and committed to exemplary senior service.”

In the groundbreaking program, caregivers study 19 core subjects relating to senior care and then pass a battery of tests to ensure competency in the material. Topics include Communication, Understanding Aging, Emergency Preparation, Personal Care, Disability Issues, Mental Health & Illness, Nutritional Needs of Clients, and much more. The process prepares caregivers to consistently and professionally perform exceptional in-home care for seniors who choose to remain independent at home as long as possible.

Network members are very excited to be part of this certification opportunity. Everhart commented, “Our caregivers are great people who give tirelessly of themselves to help seniors. Now, they’ll have something that not only shows their level of dedication but actually improves the service they’re providing. The caregivers benefit by the additional education and seniors will certainly benefit through the CCAs’® service. At the heart of it, that’s what counts.” The program is being rolled out exclusively among over 150 Senior’s Choice network member agencies throughout the US and Canada and raises the bar for companion care nationwide.

Great Oak Senior Care

Offering in home senior care and highest standard CCA caregivers to seniors and elderly in the Twin Cities.

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