Maid vs Caregiver - 4 Differences, 4 Considerations

By Anglo Caregivers
We help you find your right caregiver.
By Anglo Caregivers
We help you find your right caregiver.
Download a copy of our resource(s) for your use.
The following tool is available to help you.
Maid vs Caregiver - 4 Differences, 4 Considerations

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.

A maid or a caregiver?


A live-in caregiver and a domestic helper are both engaged on the same work permit - a Foreign Domestic Worker work permit.

The procedures and paperwork required to employ a live-in caregiver and a domestic helper are also the same. The validity of a work permit issued by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is usually for 2 years.

In the following section, we share some of the key differences between a maid and a live-in caregiver to help you compare and decide.

#1. Training, certificate and experience

In Singapore, the requirements of a live-in caregiver differ across agencies. Generally, a live-in caregiver needs to:

  • Have prior experience in caring for persons with care needs in home settings, nursing homes or hospitals; or
  • Have a certificate in caregiving or nurse aide, diploma or nursing degree.

What are the different types of certificates for caregivers? What do you look out for?

For caregivers with certification, agencies may provide you with a copy of the certificate together with their biodata.

There are two types of caregiving certificates.

The first type of certificate is a degree or diploma in nursing. Typically, these are issued by established institutions like universities or private education institutes and the programmes are rigorous and thorough.

The second type of certificate is issued following the completion of short courses for caregiving. There are many different types of caregiver training that an FDW can undergo in their home countries as well as in Singapore.

READ: Who is a Certified Caregiver?

With so many caregiving courses available, it is important for you to understand that there are differences in the duration, content and rigours of the training that a live-in caregiver undergoes.

Some FDWs may have undergone local training sessions for a few hours and be issued with a certificate of participation while other caregivers may have undergone a 6-month caregiving programme coupled with rigorous on-the-job training.

In Singapore, there are also training programmes that FDWs can attend on their rest days. After a number of sessions, they will be issued with a certificate.

As prospective employers, it will be useful and prudent for you to check with your agency on the duration of training a caregiver has undergone and more details on the content and topics of the training.

Pro Tip!

Look out for certification issued by official certification bodies.

Caregivers from the Philippines typically possess a TESDA NC II in Caregiving or Health Care Services, issued by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) of the Philippines.

In Indonesia, caregivers take part in a Caretaker Certification Scheme where they are required to undergo a competency test conducted by a licensed professional certification institute (Lembaga Sertifikasi Profesi) prior to working abroad.

Training for domestic helpers

Training for domestic helpers is focused on domestic chores such as cleaning the house, cooking, washing and ironing.

In the Philippines, domestic helpers need to be trained in these chores and certified with TESDA NC II in household service.

For domestic helpers from Indonesia, typically they will be trained in the training centres there and be evaluated under Housekeeper Certification Scheme before they work abroad.

Pro Tip!

If you opt to hire a domestic helper, you can tap on local training such as the Eldercarer Scheme or the Caregivers Training Grant to enroll in CTG-approved home-based or class-room based training, to train your new helper.

The training typically costs $200 - $500 before Caregivers Training Grant and usually ranges between a few hours session to 3 day course.

If your loved one is eligible, you can tap on the Caregivers Training Grant to help to defray the costs of your training.

Taking care of an elderly isn't the same as taking care of a disabled elderly

In the Standard FDW biodata used by most agencies, an FDW is evaluated in some areas of work including “care of elderly” as well as “care of disabled”. It is important for you to know and take note of the difference between these two areas.

Care of elderly may or may not include caregiving duties. The FDW may have performed housework and cooked for an elderly who was healthy or independent and did not need much help in any of the daily caregiving activities such as showering, toileting or with mobility.

Care of disabled will be a more relevant indicator if you are seeking to hire someone with experience in handling a care recipient who is unable to walk, eat, shower or go to the toilet by himself. This is vastly different from the traditional focus of cleaning the house and cooking for a healthy, ambulant elderly.

READ: How to Choose the Right Live-in Caregiver for Your Elderly Parent

Some employers may wonder “so she can push a wheelchair and now she is a caregiver?”

For someone to be recognised as an experienced caregiver, typically, she needs to have at least a few years of experience in caring for a care recipient with a disability and assisted in the daily care activities – showering, toileting, feeding, mobility and transferring as well as giving oral medications.

Typically, a care recipient who needs caregiving help would have at least one medical condition from which the care needs arose from. This can include stroke, dementia, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s Disease or other illnesses.

Pro Tip!

How can we verify a caregiver's experience?

Typically, caregiving experience can be verified by the agency using documents such as certificate of employment, passport entry and exit stamps if the location is abroad.

Or if she is in Singapore, you can ask for feedback or letter of employment from her current employer.

You can also request for the caregiver to demonstrate certain caregiving skills such as transferring from bed to chair or evaluate a caregiver’s knowledge over interviews. Read about 74 Interview Questions to Help You Hire the Right Caregiver here.

Back to top ▲

#2. Job scope

A domestic helper is hired to perform household and domestic duties. Typically, families hire domestic helpers for the following purposes:

  • Housekeeping – Cleaning and maintenance of the house, grocery shopping, laundry and ironing, preparing and cooking meals for the family.
  • Infant care Caring of newborn baby, feeding, changing diapers or clothes.
  • Child care – Looking after children, bringing them to school, preparing food.
  • Elder care – Looking after the elderly, cooking, accompanying to visit doctor, day to day care.

A domestic helper’s role is like a ‘generalist'. Her job scope varies depending on each household’s needs.

A live-in caregiver is a ‘specialist’ possessing essential caregiving skills to provide proper care to a person with care needs.  

READ: What are the Skills of a Live-in Caregiver?

The primary duty of a live-in caregiver is to ensure that the care needs of a care recipient is attended to.

She needs to assist the care recipient in the basic Activities of Daily Living such as showering, toileting, feeding, mobility, transferring and turning and positioning.

She will also need to assist in more advanced care such as NG Tube Feeding, Indwelling Urinary Catheter Care or Suctioning if the care recipient may so require.

Other than caregiving, a live-in caregiver may or may not assist with household chores like cleaning and maintenance of the house, cooking, washing and ironing.

For some agencies, it may mean only cleaning the care recipient’s room, doing laundry or cooking for the care recipient.

For other agencies, the caregiver may be able to assist in some housework for other members in the house, for example, cooking and preparing meals for one or two other family members who also reside there.

It is important to check with the individual agency on what its arrangement is at the beginning to prevent any misunderstanding with the caregiver.

#3. Willingness to be a caregiver

Caregiving is not an easy job. It can be demanding physically and mentally.

For example, caring for a wheelchair-bound care recipient may require a caregiver to transfer him from bed to wheelchair and vice versa multiple times a day which can be physically tiring. Caregivers usually would need to assist the elderly to toilet a few times at night and hence, their sleep would be interrupted.

Caregivers also need to know how to manage a care recipient’s mood swings, which is common for elderly and persons with dementia.

Sometimes care recipients may not be in a positive mood due to their pain or discomfort caused by their medical conditions. Caregivers will need have the patience and emotional maturity to coax the care recipient to comply with their instructions when assisting the care recipient in the Activities of Daily Living.

For example, care recipients may refuse to cooperate in assisted showers or take their medication. Or in cases of dementia, care recipients may ask to go out in the middle of the night and throw tantrums when learning they are not allowed to.

Some caregivers will also need to administer injections or perform suctioning. For inexperienced domestic helpers, these may seem daunting to them.

Some may have fear of seeing blood or injuring the elderly person. There are also cases whereby after having started on the caregiving job, the domestic helper asks to return to the agency to be transferred to another employer who only requires her to do domestic chores.

Given the heavy demands of a caregiving job, for the same salary, it is not surprising that domestic helpers may prefer other domestic work such as housekeeping or child minding over caregiving.

#4. Salary

The basic salary (excluding pay for working on Sundays) for a domestic helper from Indonesia or the Philippines working abroad for the first time typically ranges between $550 - $600. For domestic helpers with experience working in Singapore, the salary typically ranges widely between $600 - $1000 depending on their experience.

For live-in caregivers who are certified or experienced, the basic salary typically ranges between $580 - $1000. The range depends on their qualifications and caregiving experience.

Do I need a maid or a live-in caregiver?

Having discussed the differences between a domestic helper and a live-in caregiver, the next step will be to decide which type of worker to hire. Some considerations that will help families in making this decision are:

  • What will be the primary focus?
  • What is the level of care my loved one requires?
  • What is my budget?
  • How comfortable do I feel having this FDW caring for my loved one?

#1. What will be the primary focus of the FDW?

Will the family be expecting the FDW they hire to focus on caring for their loved one most of the time?

Or would the family prefer that the FDW spends most of her time performing housework, cooking and other domestic chores for the family while occasionally tending to the elderly?

This would also largely hinge on the level of care a loved one needs - the next point of consideration.

#2. What is the level of care my loved one requires?

Caregivers are specialised in caregiving hence they are able to handle and manage individuals with more rigorous care routines.

They are knowledgeable of the right techniques to handle the care recipient. Some may have the know-how in suctioning, injections, oxygen therapy, or helping with rehabilitation exercises.

Domestic helpers are more familiar and trained in handling domestic chores like cooking, cleaning, hence, they will be better at meeting family’s expectations in these areas.

Families can consider hiring an FDW whose skills, experience and preferences match the expected duties that the FDW is expected to perform.

#3. What is my monthly budget?

Families can expect to pay a bit more for live-in caregivers for their experience or training compared to untrained domestic helpers.

In situations, where budget is tight, families can consider hiring a domestic helper without experience and sending her for caregivers training. Alternatively, families may also consider first-time live-in caregivers who have just graduated from their caregiving schools.

READ: What is the Monthly Cost of Hiring a Live-in Caregiver?
TOOL: Monthly Live-in Care Cost Calculator

There are also various government grants available that such as the Home Caregiving Grant and Pioneer Disability Assistance Scheme that could be used to defray the monthly recurring costs.

READ: What are the Grants I Can Apply for Caregiving?

#4. How comfortable do I feel having the FDW caring for my loved one?

At the end of the day, the last and most question to ask ourselves is if we are comfortable in having this person caring for our loved one.

Back to top ▲

Summary Table: A maid or a caregiver?
Domestic Helper
Live-in Caregiver
Training, certificate and experience General training in domestic chores Training and certified and/or have prior experience in caregiving
Job scope Generalist – ranging from housekeeping to babysitting to elderly care Specialist – primary duty is caregiving
Willingness Some helpers may not be willing to take care of care recipients with disabilities as it is not an easy job.
May have fears like seeing blood or injuring the elderly person.
Have undergone training or had prior experience. Understands that it is part of the job
Salary $550 - $600 for helpers from Indonesia and Philippines $580 - $1000 depending on qualifications and experience
Do I need a caregiver or a maid? What would be the primary focus?
What is the level of care my loved one requires?
What is my budget?
How comfortable do I feel having this FDW to care for my loved one?

Back to top ▲

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.


No items found.
Originally published
June 2, 2020
July 25, 2022 3:05 PM

More Guides

Click for Biodata

Find Available Anglo Caregivers Here
Back to top