Advancing years can lead to various health conditions. In some cases, the individual needs 24/7 home care services; in other cases, the individual requires a home health aide. Therefore, it is essential to understand what kind of services your aging loved one needs.

Families who stay away from their older loved ones worry about their mental and physical well-being. For instance, their loved one may get concerned about meeting emotional needs, getting physical assistance, meal preparation, medication management, and whatnot.

However, when you understand their needs, you may face difficulty deciding whether you need a full-time caregiver or just a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

That’s what we are going to address in this blog. Over here, we are going to look at the difference between a caregiver and a CNA—their caregiving duties, educational responsibilities, wage rates, schedule flexibility, and care continuity. So by the end of this blog, you can make an informed decision with some tips to choose the right care provider. 

Understanding the Difference Between Caregiver and CNA

Job Responsibility

Caregivers Job

Caregivers are the non-medical staff who help you with the activities of daily living (ADLs) and keep an eye on the well-being of your loved ones. So, whether someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other illnesses but requires no medical assistance, caregivers help them with the activities. The tasks include medication reminders and management, light housekeeping, helping loved ones with social activities offering companionship, transportation, running errands, and so on.

Certified Nursing Assistant Job

However, CNAs are trained to assist with medical tasks and are licensed to assist loved ones with primary care. They collaborate with doctors and other healthcare professionals to fulfill basic needs like personal care, setting up medical equipment, taking note of vital health signs like temperature, blood pressure, or heart rate, and so on. But they do not offer companionship and emotional support to loved ones in the advancing years.

Training and Qualification

In Maryland, there is no state-mandated rule that a caregiver has to have a high school diploma or qualifications equivalent to a GED. However, many home care agencies prefer that their caregivers have graduated high school or have qualifications equivalent to General Educational Development (GED). Having this will demonstrate that they can perform basic tasks like reading, writing, or communication.

At times, caregivers undergo a special training program where they are taught to help individuals with age-related issues, like fall prevention, meeting nutrition needs, developing communication skills, and so on. Many home care agencies in Maryland also provide training to individuals so that they develop skills to offer caregiving responsibilities to loved ones. So, this helps them to develop special caregiving skills in some specific areas like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, pediatric care, and so on.

CNAs have more rigorous training than caregivers and have degrees equivalent to a GED or a high school diploma. They undergo roughly more than 70 hours of training, of which 16 go into clinical training. However. 4 –12 weeks go into teaching how to take care of infants and older people.

However, CNAs receive general training, and they get no specialized training unless they get additional certificate courses.

Job Settings

Caregivers work in private homes, assisted living facilities, or at various elder-living communities. If you are looking for someone who helps loved ones age in place or needs a home care service, then caregivers can help you with this.

Whereas, CNAs work in hospital settings, long-term care facilities, at various home health agencies, and in private homes. However, families may seek the help of home health agencies to get a CNA for their loved ones.

Care Continuity

Families who are looking for a longer period of care for their loved ones need caregivers. Since they provide companionship and support, which helps loved ones gain a deeper understanding of an individual’s needs, they offer personalized care plans to promote the well-being of loved ones. This is important during the early stages of dementia.

However, in the case of CNAs, you may have a bit of difficulty maintaining a consistent routine because they change frequently, depending on the needs and preferences of caregivers. They follow an established protocol and are therefore not flexible enough.

Still, confused about whether you need a Caregiver or a CNA?

In this section, we are going to look at some tips that will help you find the right person for your loved ones. Firstly, we will understand it through a case study to figure out how to assess the needs of loved ones.

Example 1: Woman with the initial stage of Alzheimer’s Disease

Let’s assume that in this case, the woman needs help with ADLs, personal care, companionship, medication management, and emotional support.

So, now let’s check what home care providers and CNAs can help with.

At home, the individual will get help with ADLs, do some fun dementia-related activities, and get emotional support. Whereas, the CNA will help with medication assistance and management and follow the protocols to establish a safe environment for loved ones.

So, in this case, you need both: a CNA who is skilled in providing medication and medical care, while the caregiver offers emotional support and helps to accomplish ADLs.

Example 2: Person with limited mobility

In this case, the person needs transportation and mobility assistance, personal care, and help with ADLs.

So, the caregivers will help with all the above activities, including emotional support and socialization, so that the individual can live independently. The individual will need a CNA only when he or she needs assistance with dressing wounds or needs any medical help.

Therefore, the caregiver would be sufficient.

These two examples establish the fact that one needs to assess the needs and preferences of loved ones before finding the right care.

Here is something that you should do to find the right care provider  for your loved ones:

Assess the needs and preferences of your loved ones

It is important to understand whether your loved one can manage the ADLs or not, or if they need regular medical help. If they can accomplish the tasks of daily living, then you may simply need a caregiver. However, if they also need regular medical assistance, then you need a CNA.

Speak to the Caregiver or CNA on a one-on-one basis

You can also make a list of questions to ask your caregiver and the CNA. Ask them about their roles and responsibilities, their caregiving experience, their ways of dealing with evolving needs, their wages, qualifications, and training, and finally, their schedule.

Check the care plans made for your loved ones by the agency

Make sure that the caregiver, or CNA, understands the care plan. If your loved one needs home care services, check whether the agency has a personalized care plan. Ensure that they supervise and monitor the appointed caregivers and provide regular training sessions for them.

Seek support from your friends and family to learn more about agencies

There are various ways to gather information about home care services and home health care agencies. You can check for online reviews or seek help from friends and family.

Speak to a senior care advisor to get the right help

If you are still wondering about the kind of services you need, get help from a senior care advisor. Geriatric care managers help loved ones and suggest them by understanding the needs and preferences of their family members.

In Conclusion,

Understanding the needs and preferences of your loved one is the key to finding the right help. So, whether you need a caregiver or a CNA, it is essential to do a complete check on them. Understanding the roles and responsibilities and other aspects of caregiving is essential. By getting the right home care services, you get peace of mind that your loved one is in the right hands.