Question: I have 8 years’ experience as a caregiver and I am young and energetic. I have an offer to become a live in caregiver and manage 24 hour care for two people with Alzheimer’s—a husband and wife who I have been caring for three years in their home. They are both in their 80s. I feel like I am family and that they appreciate my help and compassion. I would be caregiver and have house manager responsibilities. What would be a good pay for me? Should I ask the family not to charge room and board since the job is so demanding and there are two patients? Thank you.
Dr. Amy: Live-in caregivers’ pay varies widely and depends on the caregiver’s qualifications and experience, the local economy, and the complexity of the care being provided. For this reason, it is difficult to give you the precise answer you are looking for without knowing more about your situation.
That said, before you begin to negotiate pay, I encourage you to write down the tasks you will be responsible for, the hours you are expected to work, and what time you will have off. Will you work weekends? What about vacation and statutory holidays? What about sick days? What is paid and what is not? Don’t be shy about asking questions of your employer and having a candid conversation. Seek to understand their expectations. You might write tasks down under broad headings, such as, “meals and snacks”, “personal care”, “housework” etc., and perks such as “vacation”, “sick days” and so on.
On the question of room and board, if you are required to be at their home 24/7 in order to do your job, you should not have to pay for your room. Meals are something to negotiate.
I suggest you work with your employer to write down your duties, then check with a local home care agency. They may be willing to tell you what they would pay a caregiver with your education and experience for the work you are being asked to do.
Also check with your local employment office, and other caregivers you may know.
Who will you be reporting to? Who is filling out your employment contract and paying you? Your employer needs to deduct tax and unemployment insurance, and submit these to the government.
I know you are asking about pay, but I’d like to mention the topic of safety. I encourage you to pay attention to the safety of your couple, and to your own safety. In the unlikely event of a fire or other emergency, what is your safety plan? When it comes to your own safety and well being, I encourage you to make sure you have regular time off. If you try to provide all the care by yourself, you risk burning out.
Good luck in your new role!
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