9 Tips on Choosing the Right Live-in Caregiver

By Anglo Caregivers
We help you find your right caregiver.
By Anglo Caregivers
We help you find your right caregiver.
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9 Tips on Choosing the Right Live-in Caregiver

About Anglo Caregivers

Our agency specialises in helping families find caregivers and trained maids to live in and take care of their elderly or disabled loved ones.

Before you begin your search for a caregiver, what are the essential things that you need know to save you time and hire the right caregiver?

We have compiled a list of 9 essential tips when it comes to hiring a caregiver. This list can be used as a guide as during your family discussions to help you structure your meeting and make it a constructive and fruitful one. It is important involve all your stakeholders (brothers, sisters, relatives) who would be contributing to your elderly parent's care whether it is time, money or other form during this planning stage and have their inputs on caregiver preferences, care requirements and budget.

Ideally, you should have a clear picture in your mind on what you look out for in a caregiver, what is the job scope and your monthly budget before you approach employment agencies.

#1. What Kind of Caregiving Background?

Generally, a caregiver's background typically falls into 3 categories:

  1. Trained caregiver
  2. Certified caregiver
  3. Experienced caregiver

Trained caregivers are caregivers who have undergone some caregiver training but have not been assessed via a recognised certification programme like TESDA NC II and do not have caregiving experience.

Caregivers who are certified would have passed an assessment and certified as a caregiver like TESDA National Certification Scheme in the Philippines or Caretaker Certification Scheme in Indonesia.

READ: Who is a Certified Caregiver? Types of Qualifications and Things to Look Out for

Experienced caregivers are caregivers who have cared for persons with care needs in a home setting or a facility setting. Usually, to qualify as experienced caregiver, a caregiver would need at least 2 to 3 years of caregiving experience. This to ensure she has a good grasp of caregiving.

Requirements in a Caregiver's Experience

If you are looking to hire someone experienced in caregiving, you would need to decide on the type of experience you would like your caregiver to have. Below are some common requirements that you can discuss with your family.

(i) Number of Years in Caregiving

What is the minimum number of years of caregiving experience you prefer in a caregiver?

Generally, a caregiver with at least 2 - 3 years of experience in caring for care recipients who need help in showering, toileting and mobility would meet the caregiving requirements needed by most families.

Some families may prefer someone who has 5 or more years in caregiving. If this is your family's preference, you would have to be prepared to pay a premium for her experience.

(ii) Experience in Caring for Someone with Similar Medical Condition

It is very common for families to prefer hiring a caregiver with prior experience in caring for a person with similar medical condition to their loved one. With medical conditions that are more prevalent among elderly such as stroke, dementia and diabetes, it is possible to find a good caregiver who matches your experience requirements.

However, if your loved one has a less common medical condition such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or a specific type of cancer, do bear in mind that it can be quite hard to find someone who matches the experience.

Instead of looking to match experience in terms of medical conditions, it might be more practical for families to match experience in terms of physical conditions.

For example, if your care recipient has become wheelchair-bound after a stroke or a fracture, you can look for someone with experience in caring for wheelchair-bound care recipients. She would possess care skills that are specific to caring someone who is chair-bound including transferring a person from bed to wheelchair and vice versa, using a commode for assisted shower and changing diapers.

Pro Tip!

In the event, you are able to find a caregiver with experience in caring for a person with the same medical condition as your care recipient, you should still probe further to check on how similar her experience matches the care requirements of your loved one. Some areas would be physical care needs or behavioural management.

For example, if your loved one has suffered a stroke and becomes wheelchair-bound, hiring a caregiver with experience in caring for stroke patients who are still able to walk with walking aides would not be relevant for you.

Or, for example, if your loved one has dementia and suffers from sundown syndrome, hiring a caregiver with experience in caring person with dementia but with no problem sleeping at night would not be relevant for you.

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READ: How to Choose the Right Live-in Caregiver for Your Elderly Parent
READ: 74 Interview Questions to Help You Hire the Right Caregiver

#2. Do You Need A Caregiver with More Advanced Caregiving Skills?

If your care recipient requires more specialised care such as trachea suctioning, intermittent catheter care or peritoneal dialysis, caregivers with prior experience with these procedures are ideal.

However, you may find that the number of caregivers with such specific experience may be limited, especially if it is an uncommon type of procedure.

An alternative would be to employ an experienced caregiver and train her in the specific procedure. The training is typically conducted in the hospital by staff nurses or at home by private nurses with demonstration and return demonstration.

#3. What Is the Spoken Language(s) of the Caregiver?

As the caregiver will be assisting your care recipient every day, the ability of your caregiver to communicate with your care recipient is important.

Minimally, the caregiver whom you hire needs to be able to understand what your loved one is asking for and assist in the activity. Your caregiver would also need to be able to inform your care recipient of the activity that she is initiating – for example, “showering”, “exercising”, “helping you to stand” so that your care recipient is able to respond and coordinate accordingly.

As live-in caregivers are foreign domestic workers, the spoken language(s) that they are familiar with can be different from the common languages that we use in Singapore. Common languages that our elderly care recipients are familiar with include Mandarin, dialects and Bahasa Melayu. Some elderly may have some basic understanding of English.

(i) New Caregivers who have Never Worked Abroad

For new caregivers from the Philippines, they are typically conversant in English to varying degrees. It is recommended to speak to them over interviews so you would have a better gauge if your care recipient would be able to communicate with them well.

New caregivers from Indonesia would have no issues in understanding your loved one if he speaks Malay. In terms of English, it varies among caregivers from Indonesia as, although English is taught in schools, they may or may not have used it commonly.

New caregivers from Myanmar would need some patience and guidance from families in helping them to pick up the language.

Generally, it takes a few months for a new caregiver to be acquire some basic language used in the household to help them in performing their duties.  

Language barrier can be an important factor of consideration for some families. Some families may prefer to search for a caregiver with prior experience in Singapore to avoid the likelihood of causing any frustration to their loved one due to language barriers and misunderstandings.

(ii) Caregivers who have Worked in Singapore or Other Countries

Caregivers who have worked in Singapore, ‘Ex-Singapore’ caregivers, would be more conversant in English, regardless of the countries they come from. If you would like to look for a caregiver who can converse in Mandarin or Cantonese with your loved one, you would need to search for caregivers who have worked in Taiwan or Hongkong respectively.

(iii) Language is Key for Persons with Dementia

If your loved one has dementia, a caregiver’s ability to communicate with your loved one might be an important factor for you to consider.

For some persons with dementia, they may slowly lose the ability to speak other languages, retaining some ability to speak one language.

It is quite common that families may find that they need a caregiver who can explain at length to a person with dementia on things that he had forgotten about or to calm him down following a mood swing.

Some common scenarios where language becomes important include the following:

  • Explaining to a person with dementia that he has just performed an activity such as having a meal, drinking water, showering or taking medication.
  • Calming a person with dementia down if he wants to go out in the middle of the night and becomes agitated when not allowed to do so.
  • Being able to distract a person with dementia by engaging him in other activities when he gets upset when he is not allowed to take ice cream or certain foods due to his medical condition.

#4. What Is the Minimum Height and Weight of a Caregiver?

A caregiver’s height and weight is an important factor to consider as you would need someone who is physically strong enough to handle your care recipient’s care – whether it is to prevent falls for an ambulant loved one or to transfer your physical disabled loved one from bed to wheelchair and vice versa several times a day.

#5. Is Prior Experience in Singapore Necessary?

A point of consideration is if your family would prefer to hire a caregiver who has worked in Singapore previously. Having experience in Singapore may or may not be good; it depends on your personal perspective.

Some families prefer hiring a caregiver with prior experience working in Singapore as she would be more familiar with Singapore's culture, how to get around, where to get certain medical supplies that a care recipient needs or have experience coordinating with the nurses and able to bring the care recipient for medical appointment independently by herself.

On the other hand, there are also families who prefer hiring a caregiver who has never worked in Singapore as they are concerned that she would be ‘overly familiar’ in getting around in Singapore, having ‘too many’ friends or ‘getting distracted’ from her work.

Pro Tip!

One clear benefit of hiring someone who has worked in Singapore is that you can verify a caregiver’s employment history in Singapore through WP online using a SingPass.

A caregiver’s employment record can be helpful to you in deciding if you may like to hire her. For example, her record shows you things like how long she worked with each employer; does she tend to finish her contracts or have a pattern of breaking contracts and transferring employers.

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#6. What Is the Job Scope for the Caregiver?

One common reason for families to choose to hire a caregiver over a domestic helper is to have someone who is specialised in caregiving to provide quality care for their care recipient.

The primary focus of a caregiver is on caregiving while that of a helper is usually housekeeping or childminding.

READ: Maid vs Caregiver - 4 Key Differences and 4 Hiring Considerations You Need to Know.

Typically, the primary caregiving duties would include assisting in basic activities of daily living (showering, mobility etc.), advanced care if needed (suctioning, tube feeding etc.) and instrumental activities of daily living for a care recipient (preparing meals, grocery shopping).

Different care recipients have different care needs. Some may require more intensive, dedicated care than others. The workload and rest time needs to be adjusted accordingly to ensure that it is manageable for a caregiver so that she has sufficient rest to provide good care for your loved one.

For example, if your care recipient is bedbound, your caregiver will have to turn and position the care recipient every 2 hours to prevent pressure injuries. She will also have to check and change the diapers regularly to maintain skin integrity. Throughout the night, your caregiver will also have to wake up to do these every 2 to 3 hours. This results in interrupted rest and lack of sleep. As such, she would need to be given time in the day to catch up on her sleep.

In another scenario, if your care recipient has dementia and chronic insomnia, your caregiver will also have to wake up frequently at night to tend to your care recipient’s needs. It may be to talk to your care recipient through the night, to calm your care recipient down, or even just to follow your care recipient when he walks around the house, unable to sleep, to prevent falls during nighttime. As such, your caregiver sufficient time in the day to sleep.

As the condition of a care recipient changes, the workload and amount of care and attention required may change accordingly.

Some employers would ask if a caregiver can perform housework for family of 4, 5 or more. It is important to recognise that any given workload must be manageable for a person to do – whether the person you are hiring is a specialised caregiver or a new helper.

Pro Tip!

A common error for employers is to oversimplify the complexity of caregiving duties and underestimate the amount of caregiving workload while placing a strong emphasis on other duties like housekeeping, doing the laundry, cooking meals for the entire household.

When a given workload gets unrealistic and unmanageable, you would experience having caregivers quit on you one after another. This would also compromise the ongoing care of your loved one.

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#7. How Many Rest Days in a Month for the Caregiver?

Since live-in caregivers are engaged on a FDW work permit, they are entitled to a weekly rest day under the regulations. It can be mutually agreed for your caregiver to work on her weekly rest day with additional compensation. You can use our rest day pay calculator.

While the number of actual rest days in a month is only finalised during the signing of the employment contract, it is helpful to have a family discussion on this as well as how your loved one would be cared on the caregiver's rest day.

Pro Tip!

The need for caregiving is not the same as the need for performing domestic household chores.

While employers can go without housekeeping help for a day, the caregiving duties needs to be taken over by someone on the rest day.

It can be taken over by a family member or part-time local caregiving help can be engaged.

As different caregivers have different preferences on the number of rest days, this is a key factor that helps you in screening for caregivers who match your desired number of rest days.

While some caregivers prefer to have a weekly rest day to rest and recharge, there are also some caregivers who prefer to have only 1 rest day a month, with compensation for working on other rest days, in order to earn more money and support their families back in their home countries.

Having an initial understanding of the preferred number of rest days would save you from having gone through rounds of interview with potential caregivers, only to find that your selected caregiver is not agreeable to the number of rest days that your family prefers.

#8. What Is the Accommodation Arrangement for the Caregiver?

When you hire a live-in caregiver, you would need to provide accommodation for her.

It is common for caregivers to stay in the same room as their care recipients so as to facilitate the convenience of attending to the care recipient at night. If your family opt for such arrangements, it is also important to ensure that your caregiver has sufficient space and privacy as well.

If your care recipient will be staying in same room as another spouse, you can provide your caregiver with another room and install a call bell so your care recipient would be able to call for the caregiver when she requires assistance in the night.

It is important to decide on the accommodation arrangement for your caregiver at this point in time. If you have any special accommodation requirements, you would need share it with your agency so they may screen for caregivers who are agreeable to such requirements.

#9. What Is Your Monthly Budget for Hiring of Caregiver?

The caregiver’s basic salary is not the only recurring monthly cost. The monthly cost of hiring a caregiver typically includes the following components:

Learn about more about the individual cost component here and find out about the grants that can help you defray some of your caregiving costs. Use our Monthly Live-in Care Cost Calculator to get an estimate of your monthly recurring cost.

The basic salary of your caregiver would make up the main bulk of your monthly live-in care costs. In this section, we would share with you some insights on how some of the key considerations discussed earlier would affect the salaries of a caregiver.

The salary for a caregiver is typically higher than a helper as caregiving requires specialised skills and training as well as the level of complexity and demands of the job.

Employers can usually expect to pay a premium in salaries for caregivers who:

  • Have worked in Singapore; or
  • Are able to speak Mandarin or Cantonese; or
  • Have prior experience in caregiving; or
  • Possess more advanced skills in caregiving like suctioning or tube feeding.

For example, the salaries for newly-trained and certified caregivers would be lower compared to that of experienced caregivers. Employers would also expect to pay a premium for Ex-Singapore caregivers compared to new caregivers who have never worked abroad before.

Some employers prefer to hire new caregivers due to the lower salaries. On the flipside, new caregivers may require more time to adjust to caring for their care recipients or sometimes, they may find it difficult to cope with the demands of caregiving and require more support. For caregivers where it is the first time working abroad, family would need to provide support in terms of adjusting to a new environment and culture, picking up a new language etc.

Experienced caregivers know what to do on their first day of work. They are also familiar with the demands of caregiving and unlikely to have issues of resigning halfway due to the inability to cope with caregiving requirements. In exchange for their experience, experienced caregivers command higher salaries.

By weighing the costs and the benefits, your family would ideally reach a decision or, at least, gain a clearer picture on the general requirements, budget, accommodation and rest days that your family would prefer when hiring a caregiver.

With this, you would be ready to start your search. Read on our other free guides to help navigate your search!

Step-by-Step Guide on Procedures to Hire a Caregiver
How to Choose the Right Live-in Caregiver for Your Elderly Parent
Download a copy of our resource for your use.
The following tool is available to help you.

Related Guides

Anglo Caregivers Employer's Guide to Caregiver Hiring

About Anglo Caregivers

Our agency specialises in helping families find experienced or certified caregivers to live in and take care of their elderly or disabled loved ones.


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Originally published
July 20, 2020
June 9, 2023 5:36 PM

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