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Using a family caregiver contract

Caregiver contract

At a certain point in time, most families have to decide how to provide care for an aging or ill parent. One very good option is for a family member to provide homecare help, but this often requires for the person to leave his or her job to do so. This guide will help you to understand how to prevent potential familial conflict in a case like this by entering into a Caregiver Contract that outlines compensation for the caregiving family member.

 

Why should there be compensation?

 

Some people feel that family should never receive any compensation for caring for each other. After all, imagine if your parents handed you a bill at age eighteen for all that they did for you throughout your childhood. But, for some, it’s not that simple of an equation. The National Alliance for Caregiving reports that more than 44 million adults provide some form of homecare help to aging loved ones. On average, this care adds up to about 21 hours of care every week for just over four years. While most families don’t need to be paid for that care, thousands of family members are quitting jobs or reducing their hours to part-time at a significant financial loss. Others have obligations to raise their own families and absolutely need to work. In these instances, if a parent can afford to compensate a relative for providing care so they can remain at home, it’s a fair exchange. Going through the process of writing up a caregiver contract provides family members the opportunity to address any concerns they might have with the agreement before they become seeds of resentment.

 

Benefits of a caregiving contract

 

There are a number of advantages to clearly spelling out what you’ll do for a loved one and how that homecare help will be compensated with a caregiver contract or personal service agreement. Ultimately, doing so can help prevent misunderstandings and false expectations, and can head off arguments among siblings, especially when money exchanges hands. Caregiver contracts acknowledge the amount of work and expenses involved in caregiving, and the expenses could possibly be considered legitimate payments applied toward Medicaid eligibility for nursing home care. A caregiving contract can also protect a caregiver if their loved one develops dementia and accuses them of wrongdoing.

 

What should be included in a caregiving contract

 

A caregiving contract should include many aspects common in an employment agreement. Here is what should be covered:

 

  • Identify what tasks the caregiver is to perform. Consider these categories:

 

-Personal Services: Assistance with the activities of daily living such as bathing, grooming, dressing, preparing meals, transferring from room to room.

 

-Personal Health Services: Assistance with taking medications, helping with exercise, scheduling and accompanying care recipient to all doctor’s appointments, making sure that doctors’ orders are followed, arranging for other health services. Maintaining records on health conditions, medications, allergies and emergency data.

 

-Driving: Taking care recipient to all appointments, run errands for him or her and taking him or her to social events.

 

-Household Services: Performs or arranges for household cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping; pays bills, maintains records on household and caregiving expenses.

 

  • Determine a mutually agreed-upon work schedule including how many hours of work are expected per week.

 

  • Determine wages to cover compensation for care and identify how this will be paid (e.g., weekly, monthly). The wage should be comparable to what local home care companies pay for similar services. Specify that the care recipient is responsible for Social Security payments and that the caregiver is responsible for reporting the income and paying taxes. Determine if health insurance will be provided.

 

  • Identify what out-of-pocket expenses paid for by the caregiver qualify for reimbursement by the care receiver (e.g., gas and/or a portion of car upkeep if the caregiver is using his or her own car).

 

You can write up a caregiving agreement on your own or pay an elder law lawyer a few hundred dollars to draft it. Whichever way you decide to go, your investment will result in greater peace among family members.

 

The bottom line

 

  • At a certain point in time, most families have to decide how to provide care for an aging or ill parent. One very good option is for a family member to provide the homecare help, but this often requires the person to leave his or her job to do so.
  • The National Alliance for Caregiving reports that more than 44 million adults provide some form of care to aging loved ones. On average, this care adds up to about 21 hours of homecare help every week for just over four years.
  • While some people believe one shouldn’t be compensated for caring for a family member, the caregiver often needs the compensation in order to support their own families. In these cases it is best to draw up a caregiving contract.
  • A caregiving contract should include many aspects common in any employment contract, including job description, schedule, hours, compensation and expense reimbursement policies.
  • Entering into a caregiving contract will protect the caregiver and the care recipient by outlining expectations in advance. This, in turn, will bring peace to the family.

 

 

 

 

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