One of the biggest questions I hear from unpaid family caregivers, is how do I actually get paid to be a caregiver?
There are programs available For those who are caregiving for family members. However, it’s not an easy system to navigate and it’s often left people feeling confused and frustrated.
I’m going to try to break down the ways that you can become a paid family caregiver for someone in your family, But often the programs vary from state to state. Here is a link to help you find the specific programs in your state, just scroll to the bottom of the page:
One of the first things that are evaluated to determine whether or not you can be a paid family caregiver for someone in your family is if they need assistance with ADLs or Activities of Daily Living.
Activities of daily living include:
- Assistance with eating/meal preparations
- Transfers (from wheelchair to bed or chair)
Other programs also include IADLs or Instrumental Activities of Daily Living.
These activities include:
- Housekeeping (laundry, cleaning, taking out the trash)
- Managing money and paying bills
- Medication administration, including refills
- Coordinating and getting to and from medical appointments
Again this would be just a brief overview of what most programs require, so you will need to check your state programs for more specific information.
If the person that you are providing care for qualifies for Medicaid, there are programs called Self-Directed Care Programs. If you want to learn more about What is involved in Medicaid Self-Directed Care Program, here is a link to the online training that is listed on the Medicaid government website.
For Self-Directed Care programs, the person receiving the care can determine who they would like to hire as their personal caregiver at home. So basically the person that you’re providing carefully becomes your employer.
Once enrolled in the program, Someone will come and evaluate the number of hours needed for that person’s individual needs.
Now from experience, I will tell you that most people coming out to do the evaluation have a checklist and the time needed to complete a task is pre-determined. This is how the hours that you are eligible for payment are determined. In my professional opinion, this time limit on certain tasks is likely calculated by someone who has never done the tasks.
So for example they might a lot 15 minutes for a shower, but if you have ever had to shower another adult with phsycial or cognitive limitations, and you’re anything like me, it’s likely going to take you more than 15 minutes!
However, this is the way it is set up. So my advice to anyone who is entering the evaluation stage of self-directed care program services, I would ensure that you have been very specific with all of the tasks that you are helping with to make sure that you are getting the most amount of time needed to care for your person.
So one example would be while Mark (my husband) is able to shave and wash his face and brush his teeth independently, without my setup and prompting of those items he needs and doing a stand-by while he completes them, they would likely not be done.
Mark certainly can do these things on his own physically, but due to his brain injury after his stroke, he might brush his teeth twice or forget to shave even though the razor is set out. So making sure that you’re communicating that with the team doing the evaluation will help you to get the most time allotted to properly care for your person.
If your person does not qualify for Medicaid there are many Veteran programs available through the Veteran’s Administration or the VA. These are generally referred to as Veteran-Directed Home and Community-Based Services. For veterans and those caring for veterans, there are several programs that will allow the veteran to receive care and determine who they would like to provide the care to and who they would like to hire as their caregiver. This is similar to the Medicaid self-directed services care program as the veteran’s administration will pay the caregiver for assisting with activities of daily living.
If you are caring for a veteran the best place to start is to call your local Veteran’s Administration center or hospital and ask for the Caregiver Support Coordinator. These individuals are available at each VA facility.
I am including the V.A. link if you would like more information on any other programs available to you as a caregiver of a Veteran.
Another way to receive payment for caring for your person at the home is if they have a long-term care insurance policy. This policy will be separate from medicare or basic health insurance. This is something that individuals have the option to buy which will help them to pay for any long-term care needs down the road.
These policies are quite expensive but quite beneficial for those who do end up needing long-term care later in life. However, I can tell you that getting reimbursed from these policies, in my experience, can be challenging, but don’t give up!
Unfortunately caregivers, Social Security and Medicare do not reimburse caregivers. It’s unfortunate and it’s frustrating but this is where we’re at. My advice to everyone would always be to start with your local ADRC or aging and disability resource center and ask for a long-term functional screen. When these individuals come out they will do a screening and can help connect you with any resources your person has eligibility for. This will help you greatly When you know your options.
One thing I would like to add is that I would ensure that you have a notebook that is just for these kinds of coordinating notes. A lot of these programs are backed up, a little disjointed, and can often take a long time to get results from. So I would encourage you to take a notebook, and write down the dates times phone numbers extensions who you spoke with, and what was talked about. I know you shouldn’t Have to do this, but trust me when you do it will save you a lot of headaches later on down the road.
If you don’t get calls back from people within 7 days, call again, and leave messages, if you don’t get a response from someone after 3 tries, I would encourage you to call and ask to speak with their supervisor. Again, I know this doesn’t seem reasonable, but this is the best way to get what you need for your person.
Finally, if your person is not on Medicaid and is not a veteran and you don’t have the qualifications to meet these federal and state programs, I would strongly encourage you to reach out to family members and ask them to chip in to help reimburse you for your time period as a caregiver.
For the last 7 years, I understand the loss of income that is involved when you need to take off of work to take care of a family member. I know that it’s uncomfortable to talk about money, but unless your family members want to step up and help, I wouldn’t be sure that you asking them to help cover some of your costs of lost wages is unreasonable. It also ensures that your person can get the best care and you are not sacrificing your own financial health by providing that care.
As always care givers I thank you for all that you do!
I am a real person and read all of my own emails, so always feel free to reach out for help.