How Do I Become a Patient Sitter?

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  • Written By: Lainie Petersen
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2015
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The qualifications to become a patient sitter vary by employer. In most cases, you will be expected to hold a high school diploma or its equivalent. You may also be required to pass a criminal background check. Some employers may also prefer that you have training and experience as a nurse's aid, also known as an auxiliary nurse in the United Kingdom, a psychiatric aide, or health care assistant. You may be required to complete additional training after you are hired by a health care agency, hospital, or nursing facility.

A patient sitter is someone who provides supervisory services to a health care patient who may present a danger to himself or others. It is also possible to become a patient sitter for someone who is simply in need of additional companionship and care. In many cases, however, a sitter is assigned to someone who has dementia, who is easily agitated, or who is suicidal. As the job typically includes working with vulnerable people, such as the elderly and those who do not have complete control of their mental faculties, you can expect to undergo a background check to ensure that you are a person of good character who would not take advantage of someone in your care.


You will typically not need to obtain any type of licensing or certification to become a patient sitter. Some employers may want you to hold professional credentials, however, because you may be asked to work with patients who have very specific needs. If you hold certification as a psychiatric technician or nurse's aide, you may be in a better position to obtain higher-paying jobs. At the very least, you may wish to obtain CPR certification before beginning your work search. You may also want to engage in volunteer work in a hospital, nursing home, or other health care setting to get experience in hands-on care with patients.

After you become a patient sitter, you will typically be assigned to sit with one patient during a shift. In general, you will be expected to not let the patient out of your sight and to immediately notify the nursing staff if the patient begins to act out, to show signs of distress, or attempts to escape his room. Depending on the circumstances, you may also be asked to provide basic care for the patient, such as assistance with eating, hygiene, and grooming. Some patients may also be capable of social engagement, so you may spend time engaging the patient in conversation, reading to him or her or even playing card or board games together.


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Post 3

@Mor - I don't think it would be as bad as that. I mean, you're helping people and meeting folks you might otherwise never have known. And, depending on the situation, it sounds like you'd mostly just be there to fetch the nurses or doctors if something happens, rather than having to actually deal with anything yourself.

Post 2

@bythewell - I think in some ways that's the Catch 22 of this kind of job. I know the same problem happened with my friend when she tried to work at a hospice.

If you care enough to be good at that kind of job, you probably care enough for it to really grind you down, witnessing so much pain and the indignity of losing your physical condition.

It also doesn't help that caretakers are usually only paid very low amounts unless they work for private patients (which requires quite a lot of education and experience).

I imagine it would be even worse if you were working with suicidal patients. That kind of responsibility would just be a terrible burden.

Post 1

I'm not sure I could handle a job like this. I've had more than one family member succumb to Alzheimer's and taking care of them when they are agitated is not a pleasant business.

Maybe it was just because I knew them when they were in a better state, but watching someone deteriorate like that is horrible and I don't think I could do it unless I had to because they were family.

Being a patient sitter for someone who is simply ill and will get better over time would be one thing, but a chronic condition could be very difficult.

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