Geriatric personal care, known in Hebrew as “Siud”, is a field that employs people from a wide variety of backgrounds. Most of the Olim who work in geriatric care come with training in social work, nursing or therapy, though some have no prior experience or training in a related field. Several work settings are available, including at-home personal care and residential homes for the elderly. Providing care for the elderly is generally not a high paying vocation, though it can be extremely fulfilling work.
There are many agencies dealing with elderly care in Jerusalem as well as residential care homes. Although many of the positions in home care are taken by foreign workers, there are always families who wish to have someone from their own cultural background filling the personal care need in the home. While a career in this field can at times be draining, it is also enormously fulfilling and satisfying to be able to make a difference in someone’s day-to-day living.
There are different settings available in elderly care:
In-home care agencies that work like employment agencies: The agency finds you a position and charges a commission to the family employing the worker. The family or the worker will then be responsible for the worker’s social benefits, such as Bituach Leumi, holiday pay, convalescence pay and severance pay.
In-Home Care agencies that employ workers: In this arrangement, the agency pays all of the employees’ social benefits and provides them with as much work as they would like.
Residential care homes: Employees work either as full time care helpers/caretakers for the institution or as part time caretakers for the more mobile residents in secure apartments. These residents employ the caretaker privately.
Private care work: In this scenario, the worker will advertise his/her services and be responsible for his/her own benefits and taxation payments.
No educational degree is needed in order to work in this field, but it does take a certain personality to work with the elderly. A person who wants to work in aged care should be caring, empathetic, and patient and should always picture him/herself as an old person who needs to be cared for by a stranger and how he/she would you like to be treated.
In Israel, as opposed to abroad, there is a greater dependence on foreign workers for 24 hour care – essentially because it is affordable.
In order to have a wider variety of jobs available to you, it is always an asset to speak Hebrew. However, many agencies are very happy to have an English speaker working for them, as there are many Oleh families who do not speak Hebrew.
There are also companies that are run by Olim and are specifically catered to Olim. The main benefit to working in these type of agencies is that many Olim are accustomed to the standards of overseas employment and treatment. Although the social benefits are very good in Israel, the manners are completely different. Also, in general Olim are willing to pay a rate higher than minimum wage which is often the norm.
The salary range for a job in this field could be from NIS 22 to 33.50 NIS per hour at an agency, plus benefits such as Bituach Leumi and pension. Privately, the range is 30-45 NIS, without those same benefits.
For people making Aliyah, there are some areas of specialty that are recommended. It would be useful to have an understanding of conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. It’s important to know how to use the equipment in the caregiver’s role and to be familiar with manual handling in order to protect the caregiver. Manual handling trains you how to protect your back and enforces the idea that if your client needs to be manhandled, they either need more than one carer or they need different equipment.
Make sure that you are insured by your employer and that you are trained in manual handling.
Special thanks to Tamar Abaye for her valuable input in this article.