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What is the difference between a nurse and a caregiver? If you’re asking yourself this question it’s likely that a parent or other elderly loved one is in need of some additional support. Or maybe you’re looking into career opportunities in the care of seniors. In either case, the difference between a nurse and a caregiver is an important distinction to determine before you make any important decisions.

Here is some information to help answer your question:

Nurse
Qualifications: The qualifications required to be a nurse depend upon the kind of nurse you’re looking at becoming or employing. Enrolled nurses have to study for two years at a Registered Training Organisation. Registered nurses have to study for three years at a university. The former is seen as practical training whilst the latter also encompasses some of the theory behind nursing and medical care. Becoming an enrolled nurse is usually seen as a stepping stone between working as a caregiver and working as a registered nurse.

Tasks: Both enrolled nurses and registered nurses are trained to perform medical tasks and procedures. They can put in an IV to help deliver medication or food, they can care for wounds and manage medication.They often also manage the non-medical aspects of a patient’s care including bathing and trips to the bathroom.

Where do they work? Nurses have great scope when it comes to deciding where they want to work. They can work at hospitals, clinics, retirement homes, assisted living facilities, hospices and in patients’ homes.

Caregiver
Qualifications: A caregiver often doesn’t need any formal qualifications but they are usually trained in CPR and emergency first aid. Whilst you don’t need to study to be a caregiver, you do need to possess certain qualities, including patience, compassion and resourcefulness.

Tasks: A caregiver can assist with the day to day activities of an elderly person. They help people to achieve tasks that age or illness prevent them from doing independently whilst remaining in the comfort and familiarity of their own homes. This could be going to the toilet, bathing, dressing or eating. Caregivers may help with shopping and cleaning the house if a person has limited mobility. Some caregivers will also provide emotional support and companionship, essential for people who are isolated or infirm as a result of their increasing years.

Where do they work? Caregivers are usually employed to work in the home of the patient they are caring for.

Other Useful Information
For Relatives: If your loved one has medical requirements such as a wound or a need for ongoing medication assessment but they want to remain in their own home, then you’ll need to hire a nurse to take care of them. If they just need some support with daily tasks and personal care, you can look for a caregiver. Because a caregiver doesn’t require any qualifications, they are generally cheaper to employ than a nurse.

For Job Seekers: If you want to provide companionship and practical support to elderly people, work as a caregiver could be for you. However, if you want to provide more in depth medical care, looking into nursing qualifications is a good place to start. As a nurse you’ll have greater earning potential and a wider scope of job opportunities too.

Understanding the distinction between a nurse and a caregiver is really important when setting out on a career path or finding the best available care for your loved one. Once you know which job title is of interest, do further research to ensure you make the right decision.

 

Tess Pajaron

With a background in business administration and management, Tess Pajaron currently works at Open Colleges, Australia’s leading online educator. She likes to cover stories in careers and marketing.

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