Ask these Questions before Taking an Assignment

Ask these Questions before Taking an Assignment

If you are a caregiver and are interested in pursuing a career in the healthcare industry, you know that your experience is an important factor in shaping your path. The temptation to just accept every assignment handed to you can be very strong, especially when you are trying to build a broad experience base from which you may draw. However, there are some things you should consider before accepting an assignment, both for your own benefit as well as for the benefit of the person to whom you will be providing care.

What is the patient’s history?

Elderly patients—just like any other group of people—come from a wide variety of backgrounds. They have the same attributes as any other large group of people: some are easy to get along with, some not so much; some are simple to please, some are overly demanding; some are very frail and vulnerable (and thus require much more attention to their care), some are strong and resilient and are easier to care for. You need to know what type of patient you are accepting, and you need to very clearly understand his or her special dispositional quirks that may differ from other patients.

Are there any special needs involved with this person’s care?

You owe it to yourself—and to the elderly person for whom you will be caring—to be clear on what is going to be asked of you when you are acting as a caregiver. You need to know if there are any special demands that you may have to pay attention to. You need to be aware of any unique circumstances (and whether you can meet the requirements thereof) before you find yourself in the position of being expected to perform a service for which you are untrained or not qualified.

How was I selected for this assignment?

An agency proposing to assign a given caregiver to an elderly loved one should take into considerations any special needs of the loved one and try to match those needs with training that you may have had. Some agencies will simply assign a new client to whichever caregiver has an available time slot in their schedule, but this is a very poor way of determining whether you should be providing care to this particular patient or not.

Better yet, ask to participate in the selection process…

You should ask to be informed during the selection process so you can see what criteria are being used to match your skills and abilities with the needs of a particular patient. Better yet, ask to participate in the selection process so you have some input as to who you will be assigned to care for. This will help ensure that your skills are utilized where they may be most needed.

How much input should I expect from the patient’s family and friends?

As a caregiver, you will be asked to assist another person with some of the daily tasks of living. This does not mean, however, that you are there to fulfill any requests or demands that may be made of you. Unfortunately, sometimes the family of an elderly patient will look at a caregiver as a sort of jack-of-all-trades to be used for everything from running errands to mowing the lawn.

To head off any situations like this, you need to be aware of the amount of input that will come from family members, and you need to be sure that they understand what your role is (and what your role is not).


Acting as a caregiver for an elderly person is a role that is both rewarding and fulfilling. However, to avoid finding yourself in a situation where you are being asked to do something that is outside of your level of skill—or outside of your range of duties—it is important to communicate clearly and effectively with all the parties involved before you accept your assignment.



Loverde, Joy. The Complete Eldercare Planner (2009). Available at Last visited January 6, 2016.

Rovere, Tony. Questions To Ask Before Becoming A Caregiver (March 14, 2014). Available at Last visited January 13, 2016.