A black woman holding a pen writes a series of tasks in a journal.

Hand in Hand has heard from our members that hire caregivers and personal care attendants that it can be challenging to stay on top of all the tasks that need to be done on a regular schedule. It can be frustrating to realize after the fact that care needs have not been met— this is where a detailed care task list can help.

 If you are looking to hire a caregiver or personal care attendant, or you also find it valuable to create a task list  before searching for a caregiver. 

Here’s how to go about making your task list(s).

A black woman seated in front of a laptop thinking.

Step 1: Make a Big Picture Care Plan

Ask yourself: What does a typical week of care duties look like? Are there particular days that certain tasks must be accomplished?

A calendar can be a helpful tool in this process.  Use a dry erase board, large paper calendar, or an online calendar (like Google Calendar) that is easy for  both you and your team of PCAs/caregivers to see notes on these tasks. If you have multiple caregivers working in shifts, you can also keep track of who is working on this calendar.

A light skinned man preparing food in containers.

Step 2: Create a Daily Task List

Next, create a list of daily tasks to be completed. Begin by thinking about an average day, and asking yourself (or your loved one), “What is the first thing that you do in the morning?” and, “How or what could someone do to support you with this task?” Continue this process when thinking about the rest of the day or shift. It can be helpful to get very detailed with this step.

After you have completed a list of tasks for a typical day, organize these tasks into a daily schedule. It can be useful to time these tasks — having a good understanding of how long tasks will take is important when planning for hiring PCAs/caregivers.

Here’s an example of what a daily morning schedule might look like:

Time of Day for Task Task Description Approximate Length of Time for Task
Morning: 7 AM Arrive to begin shift n/a
7 AM Assist with transferring from bed to wheelchair 15-20 minutes
7:30 AM Prepare Breakfast 30 minutes
8 AM Assist with toileting routine 30 minutes
8:30 AM Assist with showering routine 30 minutes to 1 hour
10 AM Kitchen Cleanup 30 minutes
10:30 AM Administer medications 5 minutes
10:35 AM (approximate) Assist with morning mobility exercises 1 hour
11:00 AM Prepare meal and/or light shopping tasks 1 hour
12:00 PM End of shift n/a

Two people shown in hand only preparing to take medication. On the left a light skinned hand holds a cup of water and on the left a light skinned hand of another person holds a pill.

 Step 3: Making Detailed Lists for Specific Tasks

Some tasks may require precise repetition or a detailed process. A detailed checklist for these tasks can help you and the PCA/caregiver make sure everything is completed. Items on the list could include medication preparation or administration, personal hygiene, or meal preparation.

As an example, here is a task list a Hand in Hand member created for their caregivers to assist in the removal and cleaning of an external catheter.

Checklist for nighttime catheter removal:

  1.   Prepare a basin of water in the tub by filling the basin halfway with warm water.
  2.   Place one cap-full of detergent in the basin.
  3.   After my clothing has been removed, remove the leg bag and catheter with the following steps:
  4.   Unfasten elastic leg straps from leg by gently stretching elastic bands around white buttons (note: the elastic straps can be easily torn, so please use care when unfastening)
  5.   Remove leg bag from leg and hang off of bed, allowing for excess urine to drain into leg bag
  6.   Roll condom catheter down to remove, while holding leg bag straight in a vertical position
  7.   Take leg bag into bathroom
  8.   Remove condom catheter from the top of leg bag and throw away condom catheter into trash can
  9.   Unscrew and disconnect top and bottom hoses at the white connection point
  10.   Place both hoses and leg bag into basin to clean

A light skinned older woman is being assisted washing her hands in a bathroom sink by a light skinned caregiver.

Step 4: Evaluating your Care Task List System

Now that you’ve created your lists, test and evaluate them. Ask friends or family to be help with this process. This will give you the opportunity to fill in anything that’s missing.

As you are finishing, ask yourself if there are areas of instruction that might need to be improved. . For example, with meal preparation, it might make sense to have a set of recipes that can help guide the caregiver.  Photos can also help make directions more clear.

Creating a care system is a process that will get better with practice.


Looking for caregiving worksheet templates?

Please visit the website for the National Institute on Aging.