What Can My Caregiver Do? Vacuuming, Windows, Shoveling?

By Betsy Gold, Co-Founder, LeanOnWe

Two of the biggest advantages of hiring a private caregiver are control and choice. You and your caregiver simply agree to the terms of work – including services, hours, and pay rate – and get started. If the two of you can’t agree, you look for someone else.

Still, the flexibility of direct-hire caregiver relationships often raises questions. Is it ok to ask your mom’s caregiver to take out the trash or vacuum the house? Can she drive to the supermarket, or even travel with your dad to visit out-of-town family? The answer depends on your caregiver.

These guidelines will give you a place to start as you and your caregiver define a work agreement.

What Can I Ask My Caregiver To Do?

Almost anything the client needs help with – and your caregiver agrees to do – is fair game.

Some private caregivers will drive clients in their own car or are willing to drive the client’s car. Some are happy to wash and fold laundry; others are not. If your caregiver likes to plant flowers, and your parents have a garden, the caregiver can tend to the garden. Just remember that the focus needs to be on the client’s quality of life.

But before you choose a caregiver, make a list of what tasks need to be done.

Here are tasks you can ask your caregiver to do:

Helping With Daily Needs

Caregivers can help you or your loved one with a daily care routine that includes:

  • Showering in the bathroom or providing a sponge bath in bed
  • Choosing clothing and helping to get dressed
  • Toileting and diaper changes
  • Offering standby assistance while walking
  • Emptying a catheter bag
  • Assisting with oxygen
  • Transferring to and from the bed, wheelchair, toilet, etc.

Performing Household Duties

While in the home, caregivers can do more than simply care for the individual, but tasks should be related solely to the person being cared for:

  • Laundry
  • Changing bed linens
  • Tidying and light housekeeping
  • Menu planning based on specific dietary needs
  • Meal preparation and cooking
  • Trash and recycling
  • Care for pets

Providing Companionship & Supervision

Many families find that their loved one needs to be engaged and kept active and caregivers can provide this, along with keeping their client safe:

  • Taking walks
  • Going shopping or running errands
  • Playing games or doing puzzles
  • Practicing prescribed exercises
  • Doing crafts together
  • Attending social events
  • Going to movies, theaters, lectures, museums, and the like
  • Driving to visit friends and family
  • Going out to eat

Keeping Life Organized

If your loved one is having trouble staying organized or managing appointments, a caregiver can assist in several ways:

  • Scheduling and attending appointments
  • Organizing supplies and keeping track of inventory
  • Regularly communicating with family members
  • Navigating websites or online video chats with friends and family
  • Reminding about medication protocols

What Can’t My Caregiver Do?

It’s important to remember that your caregiver is hired to help with an individual’s daily routine and provide supervision and companionship for that person.

They are not hired to replace a weekly cleaning service or a landscaper, power washer, home maintenance person, window cleaner, repair contractor, plumber, butler, party planner, server for holiday gatherings or dinner guests, etc.

Here are the tasks you probably should not ask your caregiver to do:

  • Cooking meals for anyone other than the client
  • Cleaning up after a gathering of guests
  • Driving friends, neighbors, or family members
  • Doing yard work such as raking leaves, pulling weeds, and mowing lawns
  • Deep cleaning the home
  • Shoveling snow
  • Raking the lawn or clearing leaves from gutters
  • Climbing ladders to change light bulbs or for other household needs
  • Cleaning out an attic
  • Washing windows
  • Polishing silver

Always Respect Your Work Arrangement

To establish a successful relationship with your caregiver, you’ll want to clearly define – in advance – what you want him or her to do. Once the two of you have reached an agreement, it’s important to respect it.

If your family’s needs change, don’t simply assume your caregiver can step in to solve the problem. Be sure to ask your caregiver if they are willing to take on different responsibilities.

For instance, you might hire a caregiver to help care for your dad while your mom is still healthy. If your mom then gets sick, it’s tempting to ask your dad’s caregiver to jump in and take care of her, too. After all, the caregiver is already there, and she’s not busy with your dad every minute.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

Your dad’s caregiver wasn’t hired to take care of two people. She may be willing to do that, but you’ll need to have a frank conversation first, including a pay increase due to the additional work that is required. If you’re unable to offer a salary increase, the caregiver may choose to leave.

A simpler solution is to discuss how much additional work you need him or her to do and offer to raise the rate accordingly.

In the end, communication is the key to any employee-employer relationship and you should be mindful of that as you navigate the road to a successful home care set-up.

If you have questions about how a private-hire caregiver can help you or a loved one, download our free guide, "From Crisis to Caregiver" and reach out to us today for a no-obligation consultation.

About The Author

Betsy is a LeanOnWe co-founder and leads the Care Advisor Team that provides day-to-day support for their clients. Before LeanOnWe, Betsy was an award-winning journalist and business editor.