private caregiver, also known as a private-duty caregiver, is a professional care provider that is hired directly by a client and not through a home care agency. These carers often specialize in personal care services for seniors and can provide up to 24-hour live-in care if needed.

If your senior parent, family member, or loved one needs around-the-clock assistance, an independent carer could be the best option. Employing professionally trained caregivers will give you the peace of mind your family deserves.

Finding the right person to care for a loved one can be overwhelming and confusing. We’ve listed useful information below to help you make a more informed decision.

What Are the Duties of a Private Caregiver?

The duties of a private caregiver will largely depend on the physical, medical, and psychological limitations of the care recipients. Their scope of work ranges from performing light housekeeping (like cooking and cleaning) to assisting with personal grooming and hygiene.

Ultimately, a private duty carer’s job is to make their care recipient’s life easier.

Are Private Caregivers Allowed To Dispense Medication?

Unlicensed caregivers aren’t allowed to provide any type of medical services, which include dispensing medications and performing medical assessments. However, they can still help with medication management or pharmacy errands.

In some cases, people providing care can be allowed to dispense medication if they are supervised by a licensed nurse or a licensed home health aide.

How Much Should I Pay a Private Caregiver?

The pay rate of a self-employed senior caregiver is anywhere between $10 – $20. There are several factors that help determine their salaries, such as their educational background, certifications, and their experience.

Your geographical location and local demand will also affect the wages a professional caretaker will charge.

For clients who need more supervision and hands-on care, the cost could be higher. Caring for people with dementia, for example, requires a higher level of caregiving that comes with a cost.

Private caregivers may charge less than an in-home provider hired by a home care company that has additional staff and overhead to pay for.

Factors Affecting Caregiver Costs

  • Location: Costs can vary depending on where you live. For example, reports that senior caregivers charge $15.75 per hour in Orlando and $20.25 per hour in Denver.
  • Level of care needed: The complexity and amount of care required will impact the caregiver’s hourly rate. Those with specialized skills or experience in dementia care, hospice, or palliative care may charge more.
  • Caregiver experience and certifications: Caregivers with more experience or additional certifications can command higher hourly rates.
  • Number of responsibilities: The more tasks and responsibilities a caregiver has, the higher their hourly rate may be.
  • State minimum wage laws: Private caregivers typically make at least the state minimum wage, which varies across the United States.

Should I Pay a Caregiver Under the Table?

Paying a caregiver under the table is illegal and could result in tax penalties for both parties. While it may seem tempting to work out a straightforward cash arrangement, it could result in tax evasion penalties, lawsuits, and other negative liabilities. Employing your private caregiver legally is more beneficial for both parties. 

Does Insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid Cover Private Caregivers?

Since Medicaid is individually run by each state, it may cover in-home care costs depending on your location. Some states only cover carers employed through Medicaid-certified home care agencies while others have registries or databases for independent caregivers.

Medicare and private health insurance companies have limited coverage and rarely cover in-home care costs. Some long-term care policies cover private in-home care costs. Be sure to check your policy for any waiting periods and the daily rate for coverage.

Are Private Caregiver Wages Tax Deductible?

Private wages can be tax-deductible and filed as medical expenses. But, there are certain conditions. Typically, the person providing care needs to be a licensed health practitioner.

The care recipient must also be your dependent. More information can be found in IRS Publication 502.

Find the Best Private Caregiver 

There are several ways to find and hire a person to care for your loved one. Look through the classified section of your local newspaper or ask friends for personal referrals. Neighborhood-specific sites like Nextdoor can also be a good source for local referrals.

Other aging-related businesses can be a gold mine of resources. Check with your local senior center, aging services, geriatric care managers, and geriatric social workers for ideas.

To start your hiring process with the best candidates is to be clear, succinct, and descriptive in your job description.

Lastly, a great resource to find the best fit in your area is caregiver registries. Most registries list independent people who have been pre-screened and insured. Here are some helpful registries we found (will add to this list as we find more):

Interview Questions for Private Caregivers

During your personal screening process for a potential carer, it is crucial to ask the right questions to determine if they will be a good match for your family.

It’s also important to be transparent about the needs and desires of you and your loved one. Being clear about your expectations upfront will alleviate headaches in the future.

Here are some questions you might want to include:

  • What qualities make a good caregiver?
  • Have you had experience assisting older adults with all of the activities of daily living?
  • What types of continuing education courses do you participate in?
  • What attracted you to pursue this profession?
  • Tell me about your experience working with older adults.
  • Are you certified in first aid?
  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • What makes you a good fit for our family?
  • What is your greatest flaw and what do you do to improve yourself?
  • How do you take care of yourself to prevent caregiver burnout?
  • What are some of your personal goals and dreams?

Checklist: 35 Questions for Interviewing a Private Caregiver
Have you seen our ultimate checklist of questions to ask when interviewing a private caregiver? Our checklist includes questions about skills and experience, character assessment, and hypothetical caregiving scenarios. Click the link to get the full private caregiver hiring checklist.

Caregiver Requirements

A clear job description or list of qualifications can help you find the right carer for your loved one. Here are some of the things to look for in your potential candidates:

  • High school diploma or GED
  • Professional experience working with older adults or individuals with disabilities
  • State certifications
  • Practical knowledge of safety procedures
  • Completed courses in CPR, elder abuse, etc.

Other important qualities and skills:

  • Must be compassionate
  • Have a respectful attitude
  • Patience and flexibility
  • Commitment to their job
  • Have a kind and loving heart

Caregiver Certification Training

The topics covered in certification training vary depending on the state and type of person getting certified. Generally, these training courses provide the necessary skills for ensuring the safety and privacy of the person receiving care. Some common topics include:

  • Residents’ rights
  • Effective communication with clients
  • Managing personal stress
  • Housekeeping
  • Home safety
  • Personal hygiene
  • Medical care

Pros And Cons: Hiring a Private Caregiver

Weighing out the pros and cons is one of the first steps in hiring someone to care for your loved one. This will help you determine if a private caregiver is right for you, or if hiring through a home-care agency is more appropriate.

Pros of Hiring a Private CaregiverCons of Hiring a Private Caregiver
Direct-hire carers have fewer restrictions in terms of the duties they are allowed to do.You will be liable for accidents that happen inside your home.
You have control over the hiring process and choosing the candidate who best fits your high standards.Doing background and reference checks can be time-consuming.
You can communicate directly with the caregiver and don’t need to go through an in-home care agency or broker.You will be responsible for payroll, taxes, social security, insurance, and more.
Private caregivers may cost you less per hour than those who are employed by an agency. Home care agencies tend to charge more as they have office staff, office space, marketing, and other overhead expenses that a private carer does not.You may be at risk for theft and other security issues if your new hire wasn’t screened well.
If the person you hired is ill, calls in, or doesn’t work out at all, you don’t have an immediate backup to care for your loved one.

Am I Considered an Employer if I Hire a Caregiver Privately?

Yes, hiring a person directly makes you the employer of a household employee. As a household employer, you have certain responsibilities, which include managing taxes, paying social security, and insurance.

License and Bonding

Having a license and caregiver bonds aren’t required for you to be able to hire a carer privately. Home care agencies and caregiver registries, however, have their employees bonded, insured, and professionally screened, to give their clients peace of mind.

Found the perfect person to provide care? Don’t forget to show your appreciation! Offer to pay for training or CEUs, ask for (and listen to!) their input, and make sure to let them know how much you appreciate your household employee.

What if the Caregiver I Hire Doesn’t Work Out?

If problems surface and you need to terminate their employment, there are certain steps you have to follow. You must issue a final paycheck, payout any unused leave, and write a termination notice. The specifics will depend on which state you live in. 

My Loved One Doesn’t Like the Caregiver I Hired

It is important for a carer to have a good relationship with your loved one, as they will be spending a lot of time together. If they have verbalized that they don’t like their caregiver, don’t be too quick to find a replacement. Give them to time get to know each other better. If it still doesn’t work out, consider renewing your search with your loved one’s preferences in mind.

In Summary

There are many benefits of hiring a private caregiver for a loved one. The right carer can bring joy, peace of mind, and comfort to a client and their loved ones. It can be difficult to find good people and the hiring process will take some time if done correctly.

Once the right person to provide care is in place, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open to ensure a long-lasting and healthy caregiver/client relationship.

What to look for in a good carer:

  • Compassionate
  • Respectful
  • Patient and flexible
  • Commitment to your loved one
  • Understanding of aging processes
  • Basic caregiving skills such as how to bathe and assist with toileting for an older adult

Private Caregiver Frequently Asked Questions

What does private caregiver mean?

A private caregiver is a professional carer who works independently. They are not employed by an in-home care agency and are directly hired by the client.

Why is being a caregiver so hard?

Caring for another person can be hard physically and emotionally. Without a good amount of rest, talk therapy, and self-care, fatigue, and burnout can set in.

Is it difficult to find a private caregiver?

It can be challenging to find a private caregiver, especially now with the current carer crisis. There are several tools you can use to make your search easier. If you don’t have time for the interview and hiring process, consider working with a reputable home care agency.

How much do private caregivers charge?

Private caregivers typically charge $10 – $20 per hour. Their rate will depend on several things including their experience, education, duties, and more. Geographical location and current demand will also impact the cost of a private caregiver.

An expert in senior care, Amie has professional and personal experience in senior housing, caregiving, end-of-life care, and more from her 24 years of working with older adults.