One of the most frequent questions I get asked, especially during the pandemic, is how to find support workers. Don’t worry, I am here to help! I will break down how to create help wanted ads for caregivers and talk about possible places for you to post them.
When I was looking to hire our first caregiver, I had no idea what I was doing. I asked a couple of people in our community if they knew of anyone who did caregiving but mostly ended up getting weird looks. It’s amazing how many people don’t realize that being a support worker is a real, viable job, complete with benefits! I did eventually get a couple of recommendations.
So, even though word of mouth was what I used to hire the first support worker for my son, it really isn’t a very viable one unless you have a HUGE circle of friends. And when you live in a small rural community like me, the odds are not in your favor.
So, grab a pen and paper and let’s get started. If you walked through Momma Bear’s Guide: When Planning to Use Caregivers with me, grab your notes from that too.
Creating Help wanted ads for caregivers
Creating a help wanted ad to find a support worker to help with your loved one’s care, is never easy, even for me, and I have been doing it for many years.
It is stressful to condense all the nitty-gritty details and wonderful aspects of your loved one into a cold, hard ad and post it for the world to see. Let’s see if we can put our heads together and come up with something that will work for you and your family.
Making the right impression is important!
When most people, especially parents, are creating an ad for a support worker, they are jumping right into the ugly side of the job, instead of showcasing all the wonderful traits about the person needing the support. We need to entice people to read our ads. If you were a support worker and looking for a job, which one of these jobs would you apply for?
I am looking for anyone to come babysit my 15-year-old son because his mom and I need a break. He will need his diapers changed every 2 hours, he doesn’t talk, and you will be expected to wash his poopy laundry. BTW he may bite and pull your hair.
We are looking for a thoughtful, enthusiastic support worker to join our team! Your skills in the area of personal care, alternative forms of communications, and general housekeeping will be valuable assets. Training will be provided for all aspects of the position, including the behavioral support plan.
I don’t know about you, but I would totally skip over example A! If you notice though, in Job B, I essentially said the same thing as Job A but the difference was in how I framed it.
When creating this ad, we need to paint the job description in a positive light. We need to get people excited to come to work for us. So let’s talk about how to make that happen.
Entice them and they will come
On your paper, brainstorm a couple of benefits someone could receive by being hired by you. No, I am not talking about actual benefits like health insurance and 401k. What I am talking about is what kind of personal growth will they get out of this job such as:
- Learning important skills from a physical therapist
- Receiving practical hands-on experience to increase their knowledge of sign language and alternative forms of communication
- Be trained in new skills like oxygen usage, tracheostomy, or gastrostomy care
By focusing on them and how working for us can advance their career, we catch their attention and entice them to read further. Our next step is to stroke their ego a bit and showcase how their support will better the lives of our loved ones with disabilities. Everyone wants to be a hero!
Example: By providing respectful, person-centered support in our home and community, you will be making a profound difference and enhancing the quality of life of a young man that experiences a disability.
Can’t you just feel those support workers getting ready to email you their resumes??
Characteristics of a caregiver
Now that we have them hooked, let’s start talking about what kind of personal characteristics we are looking for. I always say to pick 3-5 of the most important traits to you. If you are able, consult with your loved one because maybe what they want in a support worker is different than what you were thinking of.
Some character traits you might consider are: respectful, interactive, a team player, self-motivated, a good communicator, flexible, reliable, enthusiastic… you get the picture.
Types of supports
In the previous post, we talked about what kind of support your loved one needs. Now is the time to pull that out.
When explaining what support looks like, be sure to keep it positive but vague. Like I used in Job B above, I took ‘changing diapers’ and rephased it to ‘providing personal care.’ Would your loved one feel respected if they knew you were telling the world that they were incontinent? Remember, we are trying to entice, not scare away caregivers!
I will go into this more in another post but try to put a positive spin on all the nitty-gritty details and not expound upon them until you are ready to offer someone a job. That will be when you want to share that type of information.
Special skills and training
Refer again to your notes. What special skills, training or certifications are you looking for in a caregiver? This is the place to list what experience you would like a support worker to have. This could be:
- CPR/1st aid certified
- Experience with g-tubes and feeding pumps, ventilators, or oxygen
- Familiar with Hoyer lifts, gait belts, and transfer boards
- Have experience with all aspects of bathing, grooming, and personal care
- Knows how to properly administer various medications
- A trained and certified Certified Nursing Assistant, Licensed Practical Nurse or a Registered Nurse
Example: We are looking for someone who has experience using a feeding pump, is proficient in American Sign Language, can run short distances, and lift 20+lbs.
Activities would be the fun but life skills-based things a caregiver will get to do with the person they are supporting. Here are some ideas:
- Go to the park
- Take your loved on shopping
- Play board or video games
- Do various arts and crafts
- Teach your loved one how to cook or expand their cooking skills
- Listen to music and dance
Example: You will be supporting a young man who loves 80’s heavy metal and dancing. Playing ball is another highlight of his day followed by fingerpainting.
In the previous post, we talked about a tentative schedule based on what times of day or days of the week your loved one with disabilities needs support. I try to keep things fairly generalized to have as many people as possible apply. If I list specific times, it may not match up with their schedule and then they won’t apply but if I leave it generalized and they are excited about the job, they might be willing to rearrange their schedule.
So just keep your schedule for now to morning, afternoon, evening, overnights, weekdays, or weekends. I also do not mention how many hours a day, week, or month we are looking for.
Example: We are currently looking to fill a part-time position of 2 afternoons a week and an occasional weekend.
We haven’t yet talked about any prerequisites you will require from a support worker. Specifically, do you need your support worker to be fully COVID-19 vaccinated? I have also had families request that their workers get the flu vaccination.
A word of caution: please consult with your case management entity to see what the requirements are in your state or country. Here in Oregon, employers can require vaccinations, including COVID but that may not be the case elsewhere.
When adding in additional requirements, I always phrase it towards someone that may have never done this type of work before. Or maybe they have, but only in a facility so let them know a little bit about the process they will have to go through to become your support worker. You don’t have to go into great detail but just a general overview.
Example: You must be 18 years or older, be able to pass a criminal background check, have reliable transportation, a valid driver’s license, and proof of insurance.
Everyone is going to want to know what the pay is and you can be specific or leave it as a range.
Example: The pay for this part-time position will be $15-18/hour.
If you are doing private pay, you can set the rate at whatever you want but I would recommend doing some research to see what the going rate is.
If your support worker will be paid through Medicaid funding, the wage should be listed in the Individualized Service Plan (ISP) or other plan documents. When in doubt, consult with your case management entity.
How to apply
Now comes the tough stuff. How do you want someone to apply and what documentation do you want from them. Do you want:
- A cover letter
- A personal statement
- Them to fill out an application that you created
- Current work availability
- Work history
- Personal or professional references
Do you want them to:
- Apply through a website you created
Where to post your ad
Whew! You are now the proud owner of a help wanted ad for caregivers; now what? There are many places where you can post the ad, depending upon your comfort level. Let’s start local and talk about the pros and cons.
- Most colleges have online job boards for their students and staff so it’s usually easy to post
- Some colleges share their job boards so one ad could reach multiple campuses
- College students make great support workers as they are looking for experience and money
- If you hire a college student, their schedule may change every term
- College students will probably only be with you until they graduate
- More than likely, they are not currently a support worker and so will have to go through the full onboarding process which will add time until they can start working for you
- You will be able to reach a large pool of potential employees
- You might be able to find an outstanding caregiver who is willing to relocate to be near you
- Your ad can be easily shared
- Once you put an ad on social media, it will always be floating around the internet somewhere
- Everyone is going to know your business
- Potential employees may make the decision to apply or not based on what you post on social media
Online job boards
- Your ad can reach a very large audience – potentially nationwide
- It can be free to post an ad
- People can apply directly through the site and send you their resume
- You may have to pay a fee to post such as on Care.com
- On some places like Indeed.com, you can’t post an ad unless it is under a verifiable company name
- People may just be applying to satisfy the requirements for their unemployment benefits
There are many other places in your community you can post your ad such as the church you attend.
Before the pandemic, I knew someone who liked to hang out in coffee shops at the community table. She always carried a copy of her help wanted ad with her and if she struck up a conversation with someone at the table who just happened to be looking for work and she thought they might be a good fit, she would whip out a copy of the ad and hand it to them. If they were interested, the details of how to apply would be right there for them.
I hear both a lot of good and a lot of bad when it comes to using Craigslist to advertise your job. Once again, go with your comfort level. I know people that will only use Craigslist, and I know people that say that the quality of people that apply is not what they are looking for.
The bottom line
The bottom line, go with what you are comfortable with. Start small and branch out as needed. The important thing to remember is that you are not willing to settle for just anyone to support your family. You are only interested in quality candidates who are willing to provide the continuity of care that your loved one needs. As the saying goes, you may have to kiss a lot of frogs…
It can get frustrating and it can be discouraging to get no candidates or the wrong candidates applying, but you will eventually find the perfect fit that you were looking for. If your current ad doesn’t seem to be getting any traction, tweak it a little bit. Try making it short and snappy, or maybe try making it a little longer and beef up the section that talks about what benefits they will receive from this job.
My next post will talk about how to interview a potential support worker. Sign up below to get notified when I post it.
Here are other posts you may be interested in:
A sample of a caregiving help wanted ad over at www.tmgwisconsin.com
I am keeping my fingers crossed for you!