Chapter 46 – What Is a Primary Caregiver (PCG)

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Primary caregivers (PCGs) are the people most often in personal contact with the patient in their homes. They usually are with the patient for 4 to 8 hours or more at a given day for several days a week. PCGs typically are not employed by the home health agency. They may be outside caregivers from a third party agency, a family member helping out, or even a friend or neighbor doing a favor for the patient and their family.

PCGs are critical for home health agencies, however. Having a primary caregiver is actually a criteria for getting home health services. Typically the home health agency teaches the PCG certain skilled tasks if the patient is not capable of performing them, and the home health agency relies on the PCG in partnership with the patient to become more independent in the home.

PCGs significantly reduce the risk for rehospitalization for patients, similar to how seeing the PCP within 2 weeks reduces the risk of readmission to hospitals as well. Having the contact information of the PCG is a critical piece of data for nurse to gather so that the agency has a form of constant contact with the patient through phone, text, voicemail, or email.

Providing care for a loved one can be a tremendous burden. Thankfully, there are many options to relieve this burden. You can find help with mobility issues, providing emotional support, and lessening the burden of caregiving. Here are some tips for family primary care givers.


Primary caregivers have responsibilities that range from basic assistance with daily activities to taking care of a patient’s nutritional needs. Whether the patient lives with Alzheimer’s or a different condition, the PCG can help ensure their daily needs are met. A primary caregiver may also take on the role of a household manager, tackling tasks such as laundry, grocery lists, and financial management. Caregivers often neglect their own health and well-being, and need assistance with daily activities. Fortunately, there are many services that can help caregivers manage this job.

Some primary caregiver responsibilities include assisting the care recipient with medication and errands. They may also assist with transportation and make sure the patient gets to doctor appointments. Additionally, they may help the care recipient get dressed and undress. Primary caregivers help their loved ones maintain their independence by helping them with routine activities, such as cleaning up after illness. They may even help the patient maintain a hobby or interest.

Primary caregivers must be aware of the fact that the task can be difficult, and they need to balance their own life with their duties. It is important to remember that the caregiving role is demanding and can lead to exhaustion. The primary caregiver’s job may be so demanding that they must modify their schedule or even leave their job. They may have to give up their career and interrupt their education. However, there are resources available to support them and minimize their stress.

The duties of a primary caregiver vary greatly, and the type of care you are providing may be dependent on the condition of the person you are caring for. If you’re caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, the list will be a bit more extensive.

One of the most challenging roles a primary caregiver will have is caring for a parent who has become ill. The caregiver’s stress levels can be extremely high, and the constant juggling of tasks may lead to caregiver burnout, which affects both mental and physical health. Additional financial burdens include a limited income and medical expenses. You may not be able to work full-time to meet these needs.

Bonding with patient

A positive emotional connection can be created between the caregiver and the patient. This connection creates a sense of trust between caregiver and patient, facilitating open communication between the two. The caregiver can discuss the care needs of the patient without causing resentment, allowing the caregiver to provide the best care possible. However, it is important to recognize that emotional connections are often difficult to establish. In order to create a positive emotional connection, caregivers should consider identifying what they need from their caregiver.

Family caregivers

As a family caregiver, you may be able to take advantage of various home health care programs to help you provide care for your loved one. First of all, you can check if your loved one is eligible for these programs. This way, you can get reimbursed for your services, such as with In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) benefits in California for those covered with MediCal.

Tax credits for family caregivers may be available. A bipartisan bill, the Credit for Caring Act, provides a tax credit to family caregivers for up to $2,000 in expenses related to caring for an elderly relative. This credit is available to caregivers who earn more than $7,500 a year and incur long-term care costs. This is typically when  Medical Social Worker is useful to consult with to discuss these types of community resources that may be available to the patients and their families. 

Family caregivers in home health services programs are also available to individuals who are not employed by a health care agency. These programs are run by the state’s Department of Aging (DGA). Typically, these programs offer limited supplemental services to caregivers, such as prescription reminders, training, and counseling. Additionally, you’ll have access to health care professionals, such as pharmacists and social workers, if needed.

While most family caregivers are responsible for providing assistance with IADLs (instrumental activities of daily living), the majority of family caregivers also assist their care recipients with personal hygiene tasks. In fact, 99 percent of the family caregivers provide assistance with meal preparation, transportation, and grocery shopping. Those ADLs are vital to a senior’s health and well-being. But even though the number of family caregivers is small, it is still significant.

Unlike traditional home health care, a consumer-directed home-care program offers the advantage of allowing the care recipient to choose their caregiver. Under the program, you can choose between family members or friends who are eligible to work. The main difference is that spouses are not permitted to work as caregivers, and family caregivers can only be hired in rare cases, especially for elderly people with dementia or other serious conditions. If a family caregiver’s financial situation is too tight, this program may be an option for you.

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