Posted by: Bert Copple | December 7, 2007

How Much Should I Give My Caregiver for Christmas?

Tis the season to be giving.  Fa la la la la, la la la la. 

This has been a question I have been asked several times in the past week via email and in open discussion and have decided to do a little research on the topic.  Though many sites have suggested a gift of value no greater than $20, and others as extravagant as a full week’s pay, there needs to be some middle ground.

Parenting Magazine, a few months back, suggested that a good caregiver be recognized around the holidays or even for their birthdays with a gift equal to a full day’s work.  For a minimally used caregiver, this could amount to a $60 for a normal three hour shift  depending on how much your home care company charges hourly.  For the 24-hour client, this theory would mean gifts nearing $400.  Is this the best idea?

My opinion, which is not the official opinion of Home Instead Senior Care, is that a good caregiver should be recognized almost as if they were an active member of one’s own family.  Think about it.  Without your caregiver, how would life be for you?  You hired a caregiver to provide respite and care.  The hiring of that caregiver should have improved the quality of life, not only for you, but for your loved one as well.  Perhaps a full day’s worth of pay wouldn’t be such a bad idea.  After all, the act of caregiving isn’t the highest paid vocation of them all, and studies show that the health and welfare of caregivers are actually dramatically worse than the average non-caregiving American because of the nature of their business.  

It should be noted that no one should feel obligated to give their caregiver a gift or “tip”.  I never tip the pizza delivery guy when he delivers pies to my house anymore, especially since they have added a “gas fee” for the driving they do.  But caregivers are not pizza delivery people.  They are compassionate individuals who willingly sacrifce their time so that their clients can live better, fuller lives.

Finally, when giving a caregiver a gift, most states and home care companies require that all forms of “gifting” be reported to the office.  If you are going to give a gift, it may be a good idea to call the office first and explain your intentions.  This way the office can be expecting your gift, and the appropriate taxes (for gifts over $25) can be withheld from the caregivers paycheck.

Finally, cookies make great gifts, but they don’t pay the bills.  Caregivers work hard, and they aren’t paid nearly what they are worth.  If you’re going to give a gift this year, consider a gift card or even a gift of cash to show your appreciation.

Post comments if you have any!

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Responses

  1. I work or a homecare agency and am currently working for just one patient. I work 38 hours a week and my duties include bathing the client, heating meals, administering meds, light housekeeping to include laundry, vaccuming, dusting. The woman I care for has alzheimer’s and needs constant supervision. Received a “Christmas bonus” of $50, which was a total insult to me. I spend more time with the woman than her entire family. Very unhappy and very unappreciated. I am beginning to think I am considered the “maid”. In the past, I have done the daughter’s laundry (she lives upstairs from her mother), done her dishes, come in early when needed and have even stayed later than my ending shift (without pay). Guess they see sucker written on my forehead!! Oh well, must learn not to care for my clients as much……………..I thought I would at least receive $100 since there are 7 children in the family. But, my services are worth less than a dollar a week to them.

  2. Well I certainly don’t pay my relatives for them to be my relatives so I don’t agree with the idea of treating the caregiver as someone in my family. Its a financial and business arrangement pure and simple. If you feel like giving something, then great but there should be no pressure to do so.


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