When you hear the words “overnight caregiver” or “overnight shift,” do you imagine a boring, slow-paced job with very little to do? Or maybe you assume anyone who works this shift gets to grab a few winks while the rest of the world sleeps too? Wrong! While it’s true the overnight shift requires you to work through the night (typically a 12-hour shift starting around 7 p.m.), it’s never boring and you certainly don’t want to get caught sleeping on the job!
“We are the superstars of caregiving!” laughed Ami Gaye, a certified nursing assistant and overnight caregiver at Aware Senior Care. She’s been working as a caregiver for nearly 20 years, and she’s worked both day shifts and night shifts. She says no matter which shift you’re working, the key is to “start every shift with patience and a willingness to help.”
At Aware Senior Care, we offer around-the-clock support services to our families. We can provide caregivers for the day shift, night shift, or the in-between times of day that you or your loved one just need a helping hand. We have compassionate, qualified, highly skilled caregivers available for you and your family.
In our latest blog post, we wanted to explain a little bit more about life as an overnight caregiver. There are a lot of misconceptions out there about what it’s like to work on the overnight shift, so we thought it would be helpful to speak with a few of our overnight caregivers and have them share their perspective with you.
For this article, we spoke with Lisper Bosire and Ami Gaye. Both women have worked with Aware Senior Care for several years and are currently working overnight shifts with their clients.
What does an Overnight Caregiver Do: Q&A
What is a typical shift like for you as an overnight caregiver?
Ami: Right now, I’m working Monday through Wednesday, 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., with a client at Waltonwood Lake Boone, and then I work at a client’s home on Thursday evenings. Every shift is different. One client likes to go to bed early and wake up early; the other client stays up late watching TV and gets up late. One client gets up a lot during the night and needs assistance. The other client sleeps very well and doesn’t want to be woken up in the morning. You have to individualize your care for each person.
Lisper: I’m working with an older woman and had a stroke last year. She spends most of the day in her bed. When I arrive, she’s usually finishing up dinner. My first task, after washing my hands and saying hello, is to help her get ready for bed. Once she’s sleeping, I have a list of other household tasks that I help with like laundry, cleaning, tidying up the home. If things slow down, I always bring a book to read. I don’t like to watch TV during my shifts.
Why did you start working on the overnight shift?
Ami: I started working at nights so I could be home with my children during the daytime. I’d go home, take my kids to school and then sleep then they were in school. At the time, my husband was working 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. so we’d just trade off with the children. We have two daughters, and we didn’t want them to be home alone. Eventually, I guess I just got used to the shift. I really like the overnight shift now. Sometimes I stay up in the early hours of the morning even when I’m not working!
Lisper: I also started working nights to help care for my children. I think that’s really common among overnight caregivers. When I started working this shift, my children were 13 and a baby. I wanted to be home when they were home, so I would work overnight, come home to see them, and then sleep once they got to school.
What’s your favorite part about working as an overnight caregiver?
Ami: I’ve been doing it for so long. I got used to it, and now I really like it. There’s less traffic when you’re coming and going from work, so the commute is easier. You work with fewer people, so you get the opportunity to work more autonomously and show your leadership skills. You make more decisions on your own, and sometimes you can make more money on the night shift, depending on the agency you’re working with.
Lisper: I love working with older people. I watched my mother stay with my auntie when she was sick, and she helped care for her until she passed away. I have a passion for helping vulnerable people. I’m originally from Kenya, and I used to work as a social worker there. My job was to help care for children who’d been orphaned and alone. I’ve just always wanted to help people who can’t help themselves or just need a helping hand. I love caring for others, giving my time to other people. I’ve done that my whole life. I feel like it really ends up being a blessing to me. I want all of my clients to know they are loved, they are safe, and they are being taken care of. That’s my passion.
What’s the most challenging part of this job?
Ami: Definitely staying up all night. You just get less sleep, even during the daytime when you’re trying to sleep. Your whole body and routine just feel unnatural. That takes some time to get used to. Being a night caregiver is not as simple as people may think it is.
Lisper: I think it’s really difficult when you’re working with a patient who has dementia. You always do the best for every client, but sometimes with dementia clients, it’s hard for them to understand why we’re there or what we’re doing. I wish they could understand that I’m doing my best for them every day, no matter what.
What would you tell someone considering becoming an overnight caregiver?
Lisper: If you’re thinking about doing this job, I’d tell you to remind yourself that you’re still working, even if the lights are low and it’s the middle of the night. It’s quiet time for the rest of the world, but you can’t sleep when your client needs you.
Ami: I’d tell them you have to have certain qualities. Respectfulness. Empathetic. Reliable. Patient. Tolerant. Observant. Caring. The list just goes on. Overnight caregivers need to be very dependable because your clients depend on you. Family members, doctors and nursing staff are not available in the middle of the night unless there is an emergency, so you need to be available for your clients to listen, encourage, help and understand. Sometimes, I get up a give my client a shower at 5 o’clock in the morning because that’s what they want to do!
If you’re thinking about becoming an overnight caregiver, the most important thing is that you’re a caregiver at heart. For me, caring for others is the most rewarding part of the job. The world needs more caring hearts.
If you’d like to learn more about what it’s like to work with the incredible team of caregivers and staff at Aware Senior Care, visit our Employment page to learn more. For additional resources on this topic and others, please visit the Aware Senior Care blog.
Tim and Gina Murray are the co-founders of Aware Senior Care, providing award-winning in-home care services for families and their loved ones.
Today, Aware Senior Care has been recognized over and over again for top-quality, professional in-home care. Notably, the company has won ten top local and national awards in the past year for its care and service.