What Is a Caregiver? 7 Types of Caregivers | Cake Blog (2023)

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Caregivers are the bedrock of healthcare for families. Without caregivers, society wouldn’t be able to provide for the needs of seniors, people with disabilities, or other people who need temporary or permanent help to be able to recover and live lives to the best of their ability.

When you think of the word, “caregiver” you probably have an idea of what a caregiver is and what they do based on your personal experience. That experience may come from the caregiving you are currently giving a family member, or it may be based on caregivers serving your loved one in assisted living or a nursing home.

Jump ahead to these sections:

  • What Is a Caregiver?
  • 7 Different Types of Caregivers

It can be surprising to see how caregivers are woven throughout the fabric of our society. They are in all segments of healthcare--both in formal and informal settings. Let’s take a look at the different types of caregivers and how, without them, our families and loved ones would not be able to function safely.

What Is a Caregiver?

Simply put, caregivers are people who have the capacity to provide care for someone else. Routine tasks like housekeeping and medication reminders are just some of the responsibilities a caregiver might have. Depending on the state and a client’s need, caregivers can also provide more complex medical tasks.

A caregiver may have a combination of many of these during the same day. Here are some of the responsibilities of caregivers, regardless of type:

  • Help with bathing and dressing, personal hygiene
  • Monitoring people with mobility problems
  • Light housekeeping
  • Medication reminders
  • Transportation
  • Assistance with transferring from place to place
  • Grocery shopping, meal planning, and preparation
  • Mental and physical activities
  • Redirection and behavioral management for people with memory problems
  • Blood pressure and insulin checks, and other minor medical tasks (depending on your state of residence)
  • Emotional support and companionship

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7 Different Types of Caregivers

Though caregivers by definition can do the same thing, each environment will naturally be a little different. In every case, a caregiver’s role is determined by the needs of the client. Paid caregivers often choose the environment they feel most comfortable in and sometimes move from one situation to another.


Companies are in fierce competition for good caregivers. The job growth exceeds the number of available caregivers.

1. Family caregiver

According to the Pew Research Center, there are over 40.4 million unpaid caregivers caring for an adult over the age of 65. This includes not only children and grandchildren taking care of a relative but friends and neighbors taking care of non-relatives.

In some cases, a family member might be taking care of more than one parent or relative. Long-distance caregivers are also family caregivers and what they do is different, but still valuable.

Family caregivers are not bound by state regulations that guide paid caregivers, which can be both helpful and harmful. The good news is that family caregivers can do whatever their loved one needs. The bad news is that this puts an enormous strain on someone to provide complex medical tasks often without any training.

Family caregivers are rarely paid, except through state-specific programs. In the short term, cost savings to the economy are enormous. However, the cost to the family caregiver is very high, through lost income and difficulty getting back into the workforce. It is estimated that family caregivers provided care worth $470 billion in 2017.

Family caregivers provide all of the tasks listed above, as well as the following complex tasks:

  • Catheter care
  • Insulin injections
  • Wound care
  • Turning or re-positioning someone to prevent bedsores
  • Mobility exercises
  • Dispensing of medications
  • Healthcare advocacy and end-of-life planning

2. Agency caregiver

An agency caregiver is a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) or a personal care aide. A personal care aide is not required to have certification, but once they have been hired, they can begin work. A personal care aide may help with light housekeeping, transportation, cooking, and other non-medical duties. Personal Care Agencies or Private Duty Agencies tend to hire both CNAs and personal care aides to serve clients.

In most cases, clients pay agencies for the services provided by their caregiver out of pocket. Others may also be able to use a long term care insurance policy that reimburses part of that cost. Medicaid can also pay for home care through contracted agencies.

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An agency caregiver can perform tasks consistent with state regulations that vary widely across the country. With these laws in place, there are some tasks that can be done with ease by caregivers, and some they are simply not able to provide. As the industry grows and the need for caregivers rises, the turnover rate for caregivers working in-home care agencies is 82 percent.

Unfortunately, some agency caregivers are often paid low wages and expected to work long hours for multiple clients during the week. These agencies are starting to improve their pay and benefits to try and keep the turnover rate lower and retain staff.

A good, reliable caregiver agency will do background checks, conduct drug screenings, and provide ongoing training for staff. If your caregiver quits or isn’t able to make their shift, the agency will find a replacement. They will investigate any complaints and have liability insurance to cover any legal costs.

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3. Senior living caregiver

Senior living is an umbrella term that covers lots of housing situations, such as independent communities for those 55 years of age and older, assisted living facilities, and memory care facilities. Some senior living caregivers do not frequent independent communities, but there may be some instances where their services may be of help. For the most part, caregivers in these settings do everything from personal care to passing medications.

In assisted living facilities, caregivers are very important members of the team that help people function day-to-day in a safe environment. They help with bathing, dressing, hygiene, and accompany people to the dining room or activities.

4. Home health caregiver

Home health is the general term used to describe insurance-covered care. A home health caregiver can offer physical and occupational therapy, nursing, and speech therapy. If someone is home from an injury or illness and needs help to recover, home health can be a huge help.

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Caregivers that work in home health usually visit the patient two to three times a week to help with the basics like bathing and grooming. Medicare, in particular, doesn’t allow caregivers to do housekeeping or cooking. Their role is mostly limited to helping the patient recover to the point where they can be independent again.

5. Skilled nursing home caregiver

Nursing home care is a 24-hour job, and most people in nursing homes need significant care. Caregivers work very hard to do all of the things a resident needs that is not nursing related. Since most residents need help with transferring, toileting, bathing, and dressing, much of their time is spent on these tasks. For residents who need help eating, they also feed patients during meal times or monitor residents for choking or swallowing problems.

Caregivers provide the bulk of care that residents need in nursing homes. Sadly for that reason, some nursing homes are chronically understaffed. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, take an interest in the care they are receiving. Be an advocate for your family member and get to know the regular caregivers if you can. Let them know how much you appreciate what they are doing and ask them to notify you of any problems.

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6. Online caregivers

Some caregivers advertise their services with companies like Care.com and Joinhonor.com. These companies post resumes for caregivers and the consumer connects to the caregiver through the company to hire that person.

Care.comdoes everything from senior care to child and pet care. There are some pros and cons to this online setup, listed below.


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  • As a consumer, you can view a caregiver’s resume and qualifications but you have to pay a monthly fee.
  • In most cases, background checks and drug testing are required.
  • Generally speaking, caregivers make more per hour and may have better benefits.


  • Depending on where you live, there may not be access to very many caregivers or any available at all.
  • Sometimes, there may be no system in place for absences or no shows.
  • Inquire about the limits of liability insurance through the company. You want to make sure you have recourse in case of any legal problems.

7. Independent caregivers

Independent caregivers are people who provide care for families, but they don’t work for an agency or company. They are independent and advertise through word of mouth or personal advertisement.

Hiring an independent caregiver works well for many families, but there can be some big risks. It is tempting to hire someone that comes highly recommended by a trusted family member, friend, or church member. On the surface everything may look good, as the caregiver is making more and you are paying less.

However, these are some things to keep in mind when hiring independently:

  • You alone will be responsible for doing criminal background checks and drug testing.
  • What happens if your caregiver doesn’t show?Who will take care of your family member? Do you have a backup caregiver that can fill in on very short notice?
  • What will you do in the case of harassment or accusations of stealing? You will need additional liability insurance to cover any court action.
  • Check references very carefully. It is not that unusual for caregivers who have pending investigations to continue to be hired by other clients.

Caregivers: Compassionate Care Wherever You Are

Caregivers, regardless of type, provide compassionate and dedicated help. Not everyone has a family, and caregivers are often the only companion someone has. They work hard, and tend to people’s most intimate and personal needs.

Without caregivers, we could not take care of our loved ones, friends, or families. Caregiving can sometimes be a thankless task, but with different types of industry options, it can also be a rewarding job to have.


  1. Stepler, Renee. “5 Facts About Family Caregivers.” Pew Research Center. 18, November 2015. www.pewresearch.org
  2. Seegert, Liz. “New Date Updates the Economic Value of Family Caregiving.” Association of Healthcare Journalists. 15, November 2019. healthjournalism.org/blog/2019/11/new-data-updates-the-economic-value-of-family-caregiving/
  3. Holly, Robert. “Home Care Turnover Reaches All Time High of 82%.” Home Healthcare News. homehealthcarenews.com/2019/05/home-care-industry-turnover-reaches-all-time-high-of-82/


What are the 4 types of caregivers? ›

Are you looking for a caregiver? Then you should know your options. In general, there are four types of caregivers: Home Health Care, Assisted Living Facilities, Nursing Homes, and Adult Daycare Centers.

What are 10 things caregivers do? ›

Top 10 Duties and Responsibilities of a Senior Caregiver
  • Assess medical needs. Checking on your senior loved one's health is an important caregiver responsibility. ...
  • Prepare a care plan. ...
  • Assist with basic needs. ...
  • Provide companionship. ...
  • Help with housekeeping. ...
  • Monitor medications. ...
  • Assess your care plan regularly. ...
  • Prepare meals.
Nov 5, 2020

What is caregiver explain? ›

(KAYR-gih-ver) A person who gives care to people who need help taking care of themselves. Examples include children, the elderly, or patients who have chronic illnesses or are disabled. Caregivers may be health professionals, family members, friends, social workers, or members of the clergy.

What are 5 qualities of a good caregiver? ›

Here are some of the best traits that every caregiver should have:
  • Patience. Those who provide home care to others need to be patient. ...
  • Compassion. When someone has compassion for another they have an understanding of what the person is going through.
  • Attentiveness. ...
  • Dependability. ...
  • Trustworthiness.
Aug 9, 2016

What is the difference between caregiver and caregiver? ›

In the dictionary explanations, caretaker usually is described as someone employed to look after goods, property, persons or animals. Caregiver refers to a family member, friend or a professional who provides care and support for a child or a dependent adult.

What are the 2 basic types of caregiver? ›

An independent caregiver is employed directly by the family. There is no intermediary agency between the care recipient and the caregiver. A private duty caregiver can provide a broad range of services, from medical and nursing care to bill paying and transportation services.

What are the 3 major job of a caregiver? ›

Assisting with personal care: bathing and grooming, dressing, toileting, and exercise. Basic food preparation: preparing meals, shopping, housekeeping, laundry, and other errands. General health care: overseeing medication and prescriptions usage, appointment reminders and administering medicine.

What are 3 roles of caregivers? ›

Helping your loved one in dressing up, toileting and conducting household tasks such as buying groceries and chores. Ensuring your loved one is exercising, eating balanced meals, and taking medication in a timely manner. Providing a listening ear to your loved one, and showing care and support.

What is the most important skill for a caregiver? ›

What Are the Top 5 Most Important Skills For Caregivers to Have?
  • Communication. While it's hard to pick the number one most important caregiving skill, communication is a good contender. ...
  • Patience. Patience is a virtue — especially for caregivers. ...
  • Problem-Solving. ...
  • Empathy. ...
  • Positivity.

What makes the best caregiver? ›

Personality Traits of a Good Caregiver
  • Patience. People who need care often take longer to complete simple tasks. ...
  • Compassion. Empathy and understanding are absolutely necessary. ...
  • Humor. ...
  • Being Present. ...
  • Detail Oriented. ...
  • Able to Accept Help. ...
  • Willing to Set Boundaries. ...
  • Cooperative.

What is the most important part of the caregiver? ›

As a CareGiver, it's important to express empathy and kindness towards patients who are going through a difficult time. Not only will you help them overcome this obstacle, but you'll also strengthen your relationship and trust in the process.

What are skills of a caregiver? ›

12 Skills of a Caregiver
  • Compassion. Part of the process of being a caregiver is being in tune with a client's emotional needs. ...
  • Communication Skills. ...
  • Patience. ...
  • Empathy. ...
  • Physical Strength & Stamina. ...
  • Time Management. ...
  • Problem Solving Skills. ...
  • Observant.

Why is it important caregiver? ›

Caregivers provide assistance with another person's social or health needs. Caregiving may include help with one or more activities important for daily living such as bathing and dressing, paying bills, shopping and providing transportation.

What are the 5 C's of caring? ›

According to Roach (1993), who developed the Five Cs (Compassion, Competence, Confidence, Conscience and Commitment), knowledge, skills and experience make caring unique.

What are the core values of a caregiver? ›

The study identified five core values: autonomy, burden, control, family and safety as decisive in the caregiver relationship.

What are the 6 caring elements? ›

The six C's of care are care, compassion, courage, communication, commitment and competence and they are referred to as the six C's because each value begins with the letter C.

What is another name for a caregiver? ›

Synonyms of caregiver
  • caretaker.
  • guardian.
  • nanny.
  • carer.
  • nurse.
  • nannie.
  • custodian.
  • protector.

What does a caregiver not do? ›

Unlicensed caregivers may not: Give medications of any kind. Mix medications for clients or fill their daily med minder box. Give advice about medications.

Who usually is a caregiver? ›

Family caregiver: Family caregivers are members of the family who choose to care for a loved one. These caregivers may be children, spouses, or other family members. They may work another job in addition to their responsibilities and usually don't receive compensation for their service.

What are the three types of care? ›

Three different types of care for serious illness: Supportive, palliative, and hospice.

What is the hardest part of a caregiver? ›

Challenges caregivers face:
  • Isolation – Caregivers can often feel cut off from the outside world. ...
  • Stress – Taking care of a loved one and being responsible for their health can be very stressful. ...
  • Financial burden – Also another form of stress, the financial burden felt by caregivers should not be overlooked.

How can I be a strong caregiver? ›

Tip Sheet: How to Be the Best Caregiver You Can Be
  1. Build Confidence. ...
  2. Exercise Compassion. ...
  3. Avoid Useless Gestures. ...
  4. Don't Hesitate to Act. ...
  5. Offer Words of Encouragement. ...
  6. Check in Often to Show you Care. ...
  7. Take Care of Yourself. ...
  8. Ask Questions about Care Procedures You Are Not Comfortable Doing.

How would you describe yourself as a caregiver? ›

PROFILE 1: “I am kind, hardworking and a good communicator.” PROFILE 2: “I am patient, a good listener and enjoy working closely with others - especially older people.” PROFILE 3: “I am friendly, chatty and hard working.” Three word phrases are a good introduction for a carer profile - but they don't work on their own.

What are the rules of being a caregiver? ›

Some Golden Rules of Caregiving
  • Identify yourself as a caregiver. A caregiver is anyone who provides unpaid care for someone who is ill, frail or disabled. ...
  • Know your right to benefits. ...
  • If you feel you need help, ask. ...
  • Tell your doctor. ...
  • Take breaks. ...
  • Eat well. ...
  • Get adequate sleep. ...
  • Get a hobby.

Why do I love being a caregiver? ›

Good Reasons for Considering Caregiving Jobs. You enjoy working with people and most enjoy jobs where you have one-on-one interaction with others. You enjoyed taking care of elder family members and would like to help others in this way. You like older adults and feel you can get along well with a variety of elders.

What are the 5 types of hazards in caregiving? ›

Some of these potentially life-threatening hazards include:
  • Bloodborne pathogens and other biological hazards.
  • Exposure to chemicals and drugs.
  • Exposure to anesthetic gases.
  • Respiratory hazards.
  • Ergonomic hazards common to heavy lifting.
  • Laser hazards.
  • Laboratory hazards.
  • Exposure to radioactive materials.
Feb 28, 2017

What are the key concepts in caregiving? ›

Positive concepts included caregiver esteem, uplifts of caregiving, caregiver satisfaction, finding or making meaning through caregiving, and gain in the caregiving experience. A neutral concept for describing the caregiving process is caregiver appraisal.

What are the 3 major jobs of a caregiver? ›

Assisting with personal care: bathing and grooming, dressing, toileting, and exercise. Basic food preparation: preparing meals, shopping, housekeeping, laundry, and other errands. General health care: overseeing medication and prescriptions usage, appointment reminders and administering medicine.

What are the three levels of caregiving? ›

Psychologist Lital Levin talks about three stages of caregiving and what to expect when caring for loved ones.
These are:
  • The functional stage.
  • The interpersonal stage.
  • The intrapersonal stage.

What is your strongest skill as a caregiver? ›

Practicing empathy is one of the most important skills a caregiver can possess. Empathy allows you to understand the difficulties that your patient is facing. Instead of brushing off those issues, being empathetic ensures that you meet their needs in the perfect way.

What do caregivers need most? ›

Carla Johnson: Care givers need love and respect for what they do. They also need someone to listen to their needs without passing judgment or giving them advice. They need a little time for themselves as well.

What are the stages of caregiving? ›

The 5 Common Stages of Caregiving
  • Stage 1: Expectant Caregiver. The first stage of caregiving is the expectant or anticipatory caregiver. ...
  • Stage 2: Freshman Caregiver. Stage 2 is when you start providing help to your loved one. ...
  • Stage 3: Entrenched Caregiver. ...
  • Step 4: Transitioning Caregiver. ...
  • Stage 5: No Longer a Caregiver.
Nov 30, 2021

What's another name for caregiver? ›

Synonyms of caregiver
  • caretaker.
  • guardian.
  • nanny.
  • carer.
  • nurse.
  • nannie.
  • custodian.
  • protector.

What are the principles of caregiver? ›

These five principles are safety, dignity, independence, privacy, and communication.

What is a certified caregiver called? ›

A certified caregiver, sometimes called a personal health aide or home health aide, is a professional who assists others with daily tasks. They often care for elderly individuals or people with illnesses, injuries or disabilities.

What are the unique skills of caregiver? ›

11 Unique Skills You Need to Become a Caregiver
  • Compassion. Showing compassion means being able to tune in to other people's distress and feeling a desire to alleviate it. ...
  • Communication. ...
  • Observation. ...
  • Interpersonal Skills. ...
  • Time Management. ...
  • Organization. ...
  • Cleanliness. ...
  • Patience.
Nov 20, 2019


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