A caregiver agreement is a contract that is usually drawn up between a hired professional caregiver or family member, and the person receiving the care – such as an elderly or disabled person – or their family. Drawing up a caregiver agreement has a number of benefits, including:
- Clarifying what duties are expected
- Outlining working hours and compensation
- Caregivers get paid fairly for their duties
- Potentially accelerate Medicaid eligibility
- Ensuring a high standard of care
- Keeping the care recipient safe
- Helping to avoid future conflicts
You should prepare and have all involved parties sign the agreement before any money exchanges hands, even if you are employing a family member as a caregiver. You may, if you wish, have your lawyer draw up the contract. If you prefer a simpler, but still binding contract, you can download a template to get you started.
Determining the Level of Care your Loved One Needs
Before drawing up the final caregiving contract, you need first to determine the level of care required. This can be tricky to figure out if this is your first time hiring a caregiver. It will help to consult with your loved one’s physician and if applicable, a social worker. You could also get a consultation to have their home assessed to see if it requires any adaptations to meet their current or future mobility needs.
You also need to think about the level of care they require for their specific physical and mental health needs. For example, if they have Alzheimer’s disease, they will require more specific care needs than someone who is not suffering from dementia. Furthermore, as they continue to decline, their needs will change.
Important Elements of A Caregiver Agreement
A caregiving agreement should contain at least the following elements for it to be effective:
- The agreement must be in writing: In this case, a verbal agreement is not legally binding. The agreement must take the form of a document and must be signed by both caregiver and hirer.
- Payment is for future care: The document must clearly state that any payment for caregiving is for future care, not for assistance that has already been given. The amount and the expected tasks should be clearly stated.
- Reasonable compensation: The compensation should be in line with the usual salary for any caregiver in your state that provides the same level of care.
Your caregiver agreement should also contain the following information:
- The names of the caregiver and person being cared for
- The date that the caregiving duties commence
- The location where the caregiving services are to be provided
- A detailed description of the expected duties, for example:
- Help with personal hygiene
- Meal preparation
- Transportation to medical appointments
- Medication management
- Help with mobility around the home
- Light housework
- Monitoring and reporting to family members
- How often and at what times the services will be provided
- How much and how often the caregiver will be compensated
- How much time off the caregiver will get and if any of it is paid for
- For how long the caregiver agreement will be in effect before being reviewed, for example, six months, or one year
- If and how often your caregiver will get a raise
- A statement that the terms of the current contract can only be modified by mutual agreement of both parties, in writing
- Both parties’ signatures and the date the contract was signed
Other Things to Consider in a Caregiving Agreement
You may wish to fine-tune your caregiver agreement to suit your specific need. Here are some other factors you may wish to consider:
- Flexibility: If you do not want the terms of the caregiver agreement to be too rigid, in case the situation may change and require adaptation on a day-to-day basis, you may want to consider allowing for some flexibility in the contract. For example, when it comes to duties, you may want to add the term, “as needed” or “or similar”, so long as this is agreed on by both parties.
- Escape route: You should also consider adding a termination of contract clause in case you or the caregiver wishes to end the agreement. This will work in your favor if you need to terminate the contract because you are dissatisfied with the standard of care provided, or if the caregiver becomes ill or is no longer able to meet the terms of the contract.
- Accommodation: Depending on the level of care your loved one requires and their living situation, you may require a live-in caregiver who can be there 24/7. If this is the case, you will need to stipulate the terms of accommodation and whether room and board are to be included as part of their compensation. You will also need to specify how much time off the caregiver is entitled to.
Caregiver Monitoring and Reporting
This is an important part of your caregiver’s duties and should be clearly laid out in the caregiver agreement. Your caregiver should maintain a detailed daily account of their caregiving duties. This should include, for example:
- Personal hygiene details
- What meals were provided
- What medications were given
- Which household chores were completed
- Where there any medical appointments
- Care recipient’s sleep/waking hours (if applicable)
These details should support the duties laid out in the contract, should anything be called into question at a later date.
Monitoring caregiving can be tough if you don’t live in the neighborhood or simply live a busy life. One option is to consider an app like WayWiser to help you better communicate and coordinate with your hired caregiver. You can use WayWiser to share daily updates, store notes, or track tasks. You can even add this into the caregiver agreement, ensuring that communication is always on point.
Providing Caregiver Benefits
Because you are setting up a contract between yourself as an employer and your caregiver as an employee, you will be required to withhold and pay their taxes. You may also want to consider whether to provide health insurance or other benefits such as workers’ compensation or vacation pay. It’s a good idea to seek legal advice if you wish to add these benefits to your caregiving contract.
Caregiver Agreement Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most common questions from people who are about to draw up a caregiving agreement:
Do I really need a caregiver agreement?
The simple answer is “yes”. Without one, you could face many problems down the road and the results could end up causing more harm than good. For example, your loved one may initially only need part-time care, but as their needs change, you may feel that they need someone to be with them more often. This can cause friction with caregivers over hours and compensation, so it’s best to have all this drawn up at the outset.
What if my caregiver is a family member?
Although family members are often willing to freely give up their time to take care of a loved one, they may not realize at the outset how demanding caregiving can be. They may also find it difficult to say “no” if the situation changes and requires more of their time.
If a family member has offered to become a caregiver, they should still be paid for their time, and you should definitely draw up a caregiver agreement to avoid future family conflict.
Should I get a lawyer to draw up the agreement?
There are two main advantages to getting a legal professional to draw up your caregiver agreement. The first is that, after discussing your situation, the lawyer will be able to draw up a contract that is specific to your individual needs. The second is that you can rest assured that you have not forgotten to include anything important. While a lawyer might seem expensive up front, it can end up saving you thousands down the line.
Should I expect my caregiver to do household chores?
This is something your need to decide at the outset. Most professional home care services do include light housework as part of their daily duties. This includes chores such as dusting surfaces, mopping, sweeping, or vacuuming floors, cleaning kitchens and bathrooms, washing and putting dishes away, changing ben linens, and taking out the trash. Light housekeeping is usually defined as tasks within the areas of the home used by the care recipient.
Are professional caregivers insured and bonded?
If you don’t have a family member who has the time to care for your loved one, choosing a professional caregiver is a viable option. Most professional home care companies, such as Right At Home or Home Instead only employ professional caregivers who are licensed and bonded and have passed a criminal background check.
Do all states allow family members to become paid caregivers?
Not all states do allow this except in limited circumstances, or unless they have been trained as a caregiver by their local home care agency. For example, Delaware, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, and Pennsylvania are among the states that do not allow family members to be paid as caregivers. You can find out more about if it is legal in your state here.
Can a lump sum payment be made to a family caregiver?
In some cases, this is perfectly legal, so long as the pay is a reasonable amount and not higher than the going rate for the type of care that is being provided. Even when a lump sum is made, a caregiver cannot be paid retroactively. This means that you cannot pay them for caregiving that they have already performed before your contract was drawn up and signed. If you want to find out more about lump-sum payments it’s best to consult a lawyer.
Whether your caregiver is a family member or a professional, writing up a contract will help your loved one, the family, and the caregiver understand clearly who is providing care, what their duties are, and how much they are being compensated. If you are still uncertain about the content of your caregiving agreement, talk to a lawyer for advice.