Should (does) a caregiver routinely help with household chores not associated with the patient, if there is time left?

When we had caregivers coming, he did not need so much care that it took up the entire 4 hours, so the company had them doing dusting, sweeping, etc., which was a big help for me.

Scot Cheben
Scot Cheben
Senior Advisor

There is a short answer to the question...  Yes.  Let me explain in more detail.  A caregiver is there for support.  Whether it be to care for the client or to provide respite care for the primary caregiver, that is the purpose for outsourcing this type of care.  

Before you contract with a home care company, you should review all of the services that they provide.  Keep in mind that you want this company to grow with you as the care changes.  As hard as it may be, you need to think of what the future holds for you and the patient.  If they were to start to decline, you need to ask yourself, "Can I do this?"  Be honest with yourself.  I know that we all tend to think we can do thIngs without help or at least want to... But reality is... This is not easy.  If the company has limited service and they can't promise you that they can handle the changes, then you need to look elsewhere.  

Once you decide to go with a company, they will sit down with you, family members, and the patient to formalize a care plan.  This is a living document.  Meaning, it will be updated as things change either for the good or the bad.  It can be updated permanently or for a short period of time.  

During the construction of the care plan you all decide on the care that is needed.  Let me remind you to include the care for the primary caregiver as previously mentioned.  This could be the dusting, vacuuming and other things.  The company should advise you as the length of time it is needed to perform these tasks.  As the primary caregiver, you need to decide how often it needs to happen (example: 3 days/week). You both then need to prioritize the services.  What I mean by this is... Bathing and feeding the client is more important than dusting the living room. Sometimes the services may go as planned and other times they may not.  So if the caregiver gets done with all the tasks and there is still time left, then they would know to pick up the vacuum and put it to work.  Keep in mind that this is a work In progress at first.  Times and hours might need to be adjusted as well as the services.  On the other hand, if the caregiver gets done early and all the tasks are done, you should be able to send the caregiver home early. Please verify that there isn't additional cost for doing this.  Some companies require a minimum number of hours per day and will still charge you. Or they might have higher rates for less hours that are worked.  

There is another side that you will have to see and that is from the home care company's side.  Things may have settled down into a nice routine and all is going well with the caregiver and patient... Then you need to increase the hours.  That caregiver might not be able to cover the additional hours for whatever reason.  It could be that they have another client right after your services.  It is the home care company's obligation to fulfill the requirement of the additional hours, but it might have to be with a different caregiver.  This could cause stress for the patient and you.  You have to realize that caregivers are people too and have to make a living.  They can't do that by working 4 hours one or two days a week at minimum wage or slightly more.  Therefore the company provides different clients to their schedule.  

You have to communicate with the home care company. They work for you.  If you're not satisfied with the care or the services and you have given them plenty of chances to fix them... Go out and find a different company that is willing to help out.  

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