What Is Caregiving?

Caregiving refers to the provision of assistance to another person who is ill, disabled, or needs help with daily activities. Typical duties might include taking care of someone who has a chronic illness or disease; managing medications or talking to doctors and nurses on someone's behalf; helping to bathe or dress someone who is frail or disabled; or taking care of household chores, meals, or bills for someone who cannot do these things alone. With an increasingly aging population, the role of caregiver has become even more important.

There are both formal caregivers (typically paid caregivers such as an RN, LPN, or CNA working in assisted living, home health care, or a nursing facility) and informal caregivers (typically non-paid caregivers assisting a spouse, mother or father, sister or brother, or neighbor).

Iowa's Care Gap

The Iowa CareGivers website (https://www.iowacaregivers.org) states that Iowa is running out of workers to care for our growing population of elders and people with disabilities. As this population increases, the demand for services is going to exceed the supply of workers to provide those critical services. What does this mean for you? Failing to address the care gap means you will not be able to count on a direct care worker being there for you when you need them. To prevent this care gap from becoming a crisis - and to ensure peace of mind for thousands of Iowa families- we need to invest in quality jobs for direct care workers.

Why, even in tough economic times, are workers hard to find? Direct care positions are among the most difficult to attract Iowans to, and keep them in, due to low wages, lack of access to health coverage and other benefits, the physical and emotional demands of the work,and few opportunities for career advancement within the field of direct care.

How to address the challenge? To meet the challenge, Iowa needs to transform "revolving door jobs" into a respected occupation; one that people can enter, make a career of, and make a good living at. Better jobs with a better trained and more stable workforce will lead to better care and services for your loved ones...and for you!

Careers as a Caregiver

Iowa area community colleges offer Certified Nursing Assistant training programs that prepare you to work in a nursing home, home health care agency, group home, or hospital. Another program has been developed and piloted by the Iowa Department of Public Health through the Direct Care Advisory Council. Prepare to Care: Iowa's Direct Care and Support Curriculum is a comprehensive, cross-discipline www.iowapreparetocare.com for more information.

Building a career in caregiving means you will have the satisfaction of knowing your work matters. Every day you will be able to see your efforts directly helping  the people you are serving. Many organizations, including the Iowa Health Care Association, offer scholarships for employees of member facilities taking college classes to advance their career.