America is aging fast. There are now almost 50 million senior citizens over 65 in the U.S, and that number is expected to double in just a few years. As seniors age, especially in their 70s and 80s, they need more help at home doing tasks most younger folks take for granted, which means a growing need for a senior home care business in every community, large or small.
Because of their age and health issues, many seniors are homebound or less mobile, and need a bit of help at home with some of the routine tasks that used to be so easy for them, like meal preparation, light housekeeping, shopping and errands. As little as two hours a day of help can make a big difference – enabling seniors to remain in their own homes – which is what 90% of them want. At home, they have familiar surroundings, privacy and independence.
Because of this senior population boom, the demand for senior services has grown swiftly to keep pace. One of the best senior service businesses is a senior home care business. It’s a profitable and satisfying way to help others and make good money doing it. If you’re not familiar with it, you may have some questions before you’re ready to get started. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions:
1. What does a senior home care provider do?
Most senior home care clients are between 65 and 95 years old, living in their own home, who just need help with daily living activities, such as laundry, meal preparation, housekeeping and medication reminders. A home care provider helps them live at home by taking care of these tasks, and also provide companionship by listening to their clients, reading a book to them or playing cards.
2. How much are senior home caregivers paid?
There is a big difference in the pay for caregivers who work for a home care agency and those who have their own independent home care service. For example, an agency might charge the client $24 an hour, but only pay the caregiver $12 an hour. That’s why it’s best to be an independent caregiver, with your own business name, so you can get the best rates in your area. If you’re getting paid $12 an hour, you’ll make just $24,000 a year.As an independent caregiver, doing the same work, you’ll be able to charge $24, and make $48,000 a year. Which would you rather earn – $24,000 or $48,000?
3. Who hires senior home care providers?
Senior care professionals, such as discharge planners at local hospitals and assisted-living facilities are always looking for capable, reliable home caregivers. Adult children of seniors who need in-home care are a prime source of new clients as well. Many of them use the internet to search for a caregiver, so it’s a good idea to register with one or more of the online care provider referral services, such as eldercare link.com.
4. What accounts for the rapid growth of the business?
Home care services are the fastest growing part of the entire health care industry in America. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor says non-medical home caregivers are the most in-demand job now, and likely for the next two decades. There are two reasons for this demand. First, medical advances have made it possible for people to be cared for at home rather than in a hospital or nursing home. Second, increasing costs of health care have created a growing demand for more affordable in-home care.
5. What’s the difference between in-home health care and non-medical home care?
In home health care requires medically trained health care workers, such as nurses. Non-medical care involves only the tasks that do not require medical training. For example, a non-medical home care provider can remind a client to take their medications, but can not administer the medications.
6. Can I work part-time?
Yes, in most instances you can. You can tailor your work schedule to work as much or as little as you want to allow you time for other things, such as family responsibilities. Most non-medical home care clients only require 3-4 hours per day, so you could work half-days, for example.
7. Is it expensive to get started?
Not at all. All you really need is transportation, which in most areas means a reliable vehicle. In many cities, it’s easier to use public transportation because of parking and traffic issues. Of course, you’ll need a cellphone to stay in touch with clients and prospects. Any other items needed by a specific client would be provided by and paid for by the client or their family. When you’re starting out, you’ll need business cards and flyers or brochures, but that is a small expense, usually less than $300.
8. What if I’ve never done this before?
Non-medical in-home care is not rocket science, so if you have basic housekeeping skills, you’ll do just fine. If you’re unsure of yourself, go to work for a home care agency for a few weeks to learn what is needed to do a good job. If you’re a caring person and a good listener, you’ll do well.
9. How do I find customers?
Because there is such a demand for good home care providers, you just need to let prospects know that you are available. There are a dozen local sources of free referrals listed in my book. The best source of new clients, of course, is word of mouth from satisfied clients. When you’re first starting out, leave a few business cards and flyers or brochures at the local senior center and run a free ad at Craigslist.org
10. Do I need any special training or a certificate?
Unless you plan to offer home health care services, which would require medical training, there are no class requirements or certification. In some areas, the Red Cross offers home care classes, and a few community colleges also have programs. Although there are currently no formal training requirements, you should try to learn more about your work, and perhaps even consider getting a CNA certificate. That training will help you do a better job for clients, and allow you to charge a bit more for your services.
As a home care provider, you can earn a solid, dependable income regardless of what the job market is doing. It’s as close to recession-proof as it gets, as seniors continue to get older and require in-home caregivers. To discover more about this rewarding senior service, read How To Start A Senior Home Care Business.