In the fragmented 21st century, more people than ever are balancing a career with the demands of family and other obligations. Often, this means that adult children must step in to assist older relatives or friends who can no longer manage on their own. As a result, the trend toward hiring home carers instead of traditional nursing homes is rapidly growing. You might be one of those people who are looking for a job as a freelance home carer. In this blog post, we’ll take you through 10 easy tips to make your life as a freelancer easier.
Be prepared for unknown challenges
Freelance work is often inconsistent and unpredictable. You may get more work than you can handle one month and then have very little work the next. In many cases, you won’t know the person for whom you are working, and their needs may not be what you expect. The clients for your work may have specific needs or wants that don’t match the services you offer. You may be required to travel and take care of clients who live in another state or even another country. If you are unable to meet the needs of a particular client, you may not be able to get future work from them. You also will be responsible for your own taxes, benefits, and retirement savings.
Know your limits and have a backup plan
You will likely be working in someone else’s home, and their schedule may be quite different from your own. You may find yourself working more hours than you expected, or you might have to take time off unexpectedly. Your client may have additional needs during the day, such as the need for medication reminders, assistance with bathing, or even transportation to appointments. Your client may also have specific activities or tasks that they want you to help with, such as meal preparation, shopping, or other household tasks. If you are caring for an older adult, you may have to help them with necessary forms for retirement, insurance, and other benefits that they may be entitled to. You may even have to help manage their finances.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
If you are overwhelmed with your clients’ needs, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You may need to hire additional staff, find a co-worker to share the workload, or hire professionals to help with specific tasks. You may need to ask your clients to assist you with their own care, such as reminding them to take medications. Be prepared to say no to clients who you feel are too much. You are not a nurse or a doctor, and you do not have the training to meet all the needs of everyone who hires you for work.
Write down everything that happens
You will find that it is easy to miss small details when you are working in another person’s home. What is the client’s home security system code? Did the client finish the food in the refrigerator? What are the names and medical conditions of the client’s family members? What medications does the client take and when? What does the client need help with? What is the best way to contact the client during normal business hours and after hours? You will also want to write down anything that the client mentions that they would like you to do while you are there. You may have to take notes while they are talking with their doctor, family members, or other professionals, so keep a notebook handy.
Take care of yourself emotionally and physically
You are on the front lines of care, and you can expect to be involved in some pretty emotional situations. You may need to help your clients make decisions about end-of-life care, care for family members with serious conditions, and other emotional topics. You also may be dealing with a wide variety of physical conditions, including incontinence, diabetes, mobility issues, and many other health conditions. If you are not prepared to deal with such situations, you will find this work overwhelming. Prepare yourself by reading about common conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. You can find books about these conditions at your local library or bookstore.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate
Freelance work is often an hourly wage, but you may be able to negotiate a flat fee for certain tasks. If you are assisting a client with meal preparation, you can charge a flat fee per week or per month. You can also negotiate with clients who you feel are asking too much of you, such as those who expect you to take care of all medications or manage their finances. If a client has unrealistic expectations of what you can do, you can also ask for a different rate or charge a higher fee for certain tasks.
Establish boundaries and have clear communication from the start
You may find that a client expects you to meet all of their needs around the clock, 24 hours a day. You may be asked to drive the client to the doctor at 3 in the morning or take care of a child or grandchild while you are there. You do not have to agree to such duties, but it is important to have boundaries, both for your own well-being and for the sake of the client. Explain your boundaries to each client, such as the hours you will be available, the tasks you will be responsible for, and the conditions that you will work under. Be clear, and don’t be afraid to walk away from a client who doesn’t respect your boundaries.
Freelance work as a home carer can be demanding and challenging, but it can also be very rewarding. It is important to be prepared for challenges such as inconsistent work and unexpected client needs. You will also want to make sure that you are emotionally and physically prepared for the work. Don’t be afraid to negotiate boundaries with clients who overstep their bounds.