Can you actually get paid for being compassionate? The most obvious answer would be to just look at the millions of doctors, nurses, social workers and others whose daily work focuses on the needs and well-being of others. Yet, many of us don’t have the college degrees or training it might take to allow us to serve in such roles.
Does it mean that we won’t be able to make caring for others a lucrative “gig”? In a word: No. There are ways of making it happen, and with trends veering away from nursing homes and more towards staying at home, now is the best time to explore options.
With more and more official organizations, including groups like the National Institute on Aging, encouraging seniors to consider “aging in home” rather than a nursing or retirement facility, it is causing a surge in demand for skilled caregivers. For the most part, this industry is finding adequate supplies of trained (or currently training) staff. They are folks who have nursing skills or formal certifications in everything needed to provide seniors with personal care (such as bathing, toileting, dressing and even medication administration and eating).
However, there is “all the rest”, and that requires people with great compassion, enthusiasm and interest in helping others, but does not demand formal schooling or even certification. Known by several names, it is becoming more often described as elderly concierge services or elderly sitting.
Understanding Elderly Concierge Services and Elderly Sitting Jobs
Most senior adults prefer to think of themselves as receiving elderly concierge services rather than requiring sitters. It makes perfect sense. If you are someone who has leg issues and may find it difficult to get up and down the stairs, you certainly don’t need a “sitter”, but instead require someone who can dash up and down the stairs to help you with household tasks like laundry or cleaning.
After all, many people are in need of such services more because of physical limitations than due to failing cognitive health. As an example, someone offering elderly concierge services is going to more often:
- Tackle the most difficult household chores such as washing or vacuuming floors, laundry, and yard work.
- Doing any driving and errands (usually with the senior or couple in tow).
- Offering help with lighter household tasks such as putting away groceries and even preparing meals or tidying up counters in the kitchen and bath.
- Providing specialty services when needed, and this might include help with writing checks for monthly bills, filing out essential paperwork for insurance or medical reasons, and tending to phone calls related to such issues.
What most elderly concierge services do not include are those services relating directly to more formal healthcare. Even something as simple as putting pills into one of those handy pill distribution boxes is considered outside of the parameters of elderly concierge services. Yet, it can be incredibly useful for anyone interested in working in elderly sitter jobs to know how to administer CPR to the elderly or frail, provide assistance with issues like choking, and recognize when it is time to contact medical services. For example, it may be important for those offering elderly concierge services to know if a client is at risk for stroke or heart attack, falling or diabetes related issues, and know when symptoms may indicate an emergency.
How to Get Started with Elderly Concierge Services
There are two ways you can go about working in this industry:
- You can go freelance.
- You can work with a firm that actually provides elderly concierge services.
Freelance operators can go online to websites like Care.com, Brightstar, or Sitters Companion Care and create a formal provider’s account. By doing so, you indicate the types of services you make available. Though you don’t have options for “elderly concierge services”, you can indicate everything that such a professional provides.
For instance, you can offer companion care that includes running errands, offering transportation, doing light housekeeping and even working in more official roles as a personal care provider or Alzheimer’s or dementia care specialist. Naturally, you may need to prove you have the formal certifications (if required) to provide these options. The good news, however, is that many seniors are well prepared in that area. It is just a matter of finding someone who restores the balance between independence and the inability to fully manage the household.
If you go the second route, it may mean joining an organization such as the ICLMNET or the International Concierge and Lifestyle Management Network. This is an online directory of professionals who have agreed to a code of ethics and standard of excellence when providing elderly concierge services, among other services.
Again, this is not going to be the same as working in one of the sitter jobs for the elderly because it is far more active than emphasizing companionship, but if you are eager to get paid for your compassion, both routes work.
What’s so exciting about the field of elderly concierge services is that it can be designed around your personal goals, too. For example, you might be someone who is quite active and who wishes to be out and about, helping as many people as possible each day. That means you are not the best candidate for the elderly sitter jobs that may require long hours spent in the company of just one or two people.
However, you might be just the right person to do all kinds of errands and vehicle-related tasks. For instance, in our article You, Your Car, and a Second Income, we explained that you don’t have to be a pizza delivery person or drive around with car wrapping if you hope to monetize your vehicle.
Instead, you can be the “go to” person for any number of seniors in the area. When they need trips to the doctor, airport, local mall, grocery store or anywhere else, you can be the person they have on speed dial. You might even build an entire business around vehicle services alone; scheduling specific customers for specific days of the week. In fact, a routine of this kind is healthy for many home-bound or vehicle-less seniors. It gives them a clear purpose to their daily routine, adds something to look forward to during the week, and is a good chance to socialize.
You don’t even have to bring them with you if they prefer to stay at home. Many seniors would love to have someone they can consistently rely on to pickup their groceries, prescription medications, dry cleaning, library books and much more. Offering up this option as part of your elderly concierge services is a great way to create income around your work.
And what if you prefer something less mobile or active? Maybe you would rather work one on one with just a few people each week? If so, then sitter jobs for the elderly are an ideal choice.
The Work in Elderly Sitter Jobs
Someone who is offering their services in the form of elderly sitter jobs is going to really emphasize the individual and their needs. This is a job for those who do not mind a very customized approach to elder care. For instance, your day may involve little more than ensuring a person takes medication on time, preparing their meals and ensuring they eat them, making certain they do not fall or have any issues that require attention.
Often, close friendships can develop between care providers and people who hire them as elderly sitters. They have lots of conversations, watch TV together and discuss what they see and enjoy, play games and even meet one another’s families.
Just as with the senior concierge services, you need to understand if you require any specific certifications. CPR and first aid are always ideal, but so too is knowing about any special needs or issues a person might face.
How to Get Jobs
As we said earlier, it is best to enroll with websites that those in need of such services will use as soon as they discover they need care for themselves or their family. Appearing among the listings gives you validity and credibility, but you also want to have at least one or two experiences under the proverbial belt before you begin.
That might mean that volunteering at local nursing homes, where you sit with people who do not get a lot of company or who might benefit from new friends, is a good start. You can contact local Visiting Nurse Associations to find out about any in-home options, too. You might even sign up to be a Meals on Wheels driver and see for yourself if there are people in the area who can benefit from your services.
As is so often the case with many services, it is word of mouth that might give you the best chances at paid work. Start with family and friends, and let them know what sort of elderly concierge services or elderly sitter jobs you are eager to provide. Chances are, almost everyone you know or meet is looking for someone just like you. After all, it is not common to go from being entirely independent to totally dependent. Yes, there are disabling medical issues that leave many in such a state, but for most it is a slow decline from independence to considering a nursing or retirement home.
You can easily fill that gap between the first signs that mom, dad, grandma or grandpa needs a bit of help and the decision to take them out of the home. In fact, your presence can probably help to keep someone in their home for much longer. The experts at Home Helpers Homecare say that most people, “feel more comfortable staying at home than moving to a nursing home. A nursing home simply doesn’t feel “right”, no matter how homey the health aides there try to decorate the place. There’s simply no substitute for the comfort of a favorite couch or the view from a favorite corner of the house. Besides, relocating can be very stressful. With in-house care, [people] retain these familiar comforts.”
Naturally, this helps them to remain emotionally happier and this, in turn, improves their general well-being and motivation. Those who are at home and who start to get help are often eager to prove they can maintain this status for a long time to come, and it can only be of benefit to them.
Boosting Your Chances for Success in Elderly Concierge Services
Of course, it is also possible to improve your chances for success in this field by positioning yourself as an expert in seniors and senior care. We don’t mean posing as a certified medical provider. Instead, you can create a blog that focuses on tips and information for seniors who wish to stay at home, their families and caregivers and those interested in supporting them.
How does this boost your chance of success? Think about it. If you are looking for information specific to at home care or issues around it (think “Tips to Help Seniors Remember Medications” or “How to Keep My Parents Home”) and you find a well written blog, you will think of the writer as a valuable resource. If that writer is also someone who is willing to provide in home support, driving services and elderly sitting services, it is far more likely that they will get hired.
You don’t want to ever sell your services openly in a blog, though. Instead, you simply want to encourage people to consider the services you offer, such as elderly concierge services, as a good answer to the issues they face. What is the particular pain that someone who might require compassionate in-home care faces? Write about the solutions in a blog, and be sure that the blog appears on your website as well as sites relating to senior health.
You can make a good income due to your compassion for the elderly, and whether you sit with someone throughout the day, run their errands or drive them to appointments, you now know how to get started with it today.