Senior caregivers: how much should you charge for your services?

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You are almost ready to work with a new client. You have done the interview, visited the house and discussed the responsibilities you will assume. There is only one thing: the client wants to know how much you will charge for your services as primary caregiver at home.

Determining what you should be paid for your services is not an exact science. Many factors can cause your rate to go up or down, including where you live, your credentials, and the tasks you are asked to do. You also don’t want to forget about extra duties — like traveling or caring for pets — that might increase the workload and, therefore, warrant extra compensation. You want to be respectful of your client’s budget, but you also want to get a fair price for the care you provide.

Before deciding what to charge by the hour, here are a few things to consider.

What to consider when determining your salary

When deciding how much you should charge for your home care services, start by taking a closer look at what other caregivers charge, your experience or training, and the level of care you will provide.

1. Average rates for home health aides in your area

Start by researching average caregiver rates for your area. From there, you can always move up or down depending on your experience or expected tasks.

According to the 2021 Genworth Cost of Care Survey, home health aides in the United States charge an average of $27 per hour, but there is a lot of variation from place to place. For example, home health aides charged a median of $30 per hour in Alaska in 2020, but only $20.20 per hour in Alabama.

And that makes sense. What people need to rent an apartment or buy a gallon of milk is not the same everywhere, and some places have more skilled caregivers competing for jobs, which can cause pay rates to fluctuate.

Checking what other caregivers charge in your area can also give you an idea of ​​what you should be charging. From there, you can adjust the rate up or down, depending on your own experience and the job at hand.

Here are some examples of senior caregiver rates by location, according to recent data from Care.com.

Current Senior Caregiver Rates for Major Cities*

Location Main caregiver hourly rate
Denver, Colorado $19.75
Minneapolis, Minnesota $19.50
San Diego, California $18.50
Brooklyn, New York $18.50
Los Angeles, California $17.50
Chicago, Ill. $17.50
Phoenix, Arizona $17.50
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania $16.75
Fort Lauderdale, Florida $16.50
Charlotte, North Carolina $15.50

Dallas, TX

$15.25

Orlando Florida

$15.25

Las Vegas, Nevada

$15.25
*Pricing information as of 07/21/22

Researching the average elderly carer rates for your area is a good place to start – you can always increase or decrease depending on your experience or expected duties.

2. Your skills and experience

Similar to other positions, caregivers with more education and years in the industry tend to charge more for their services than their less experienced counterparts, says Sam Cross, home care expert and founder of Broad Street. Home Care in Wilmette, Illinois.

Since some seniors need more advanced care, having certain certifications or licenses can put you in high demand, he says, especially when people expect to need more help in aging. Qualifications that could warrant a higher salary, according to Cross, can include:

“The patient’s medical history and medical needs play a significant role in the rate to be charged.”

— NICOLAS RORABAUGH, MAKE SURE TO CONTINUE IN ATHENS, GEORGIA

3. Level and type of care you will provide

Home health aides provide a wide range of services, ranging from simple accompaniment care to fairly complex medical care. Generally speaking, the more you are asked to do and the more complex the tasks, the more you can expect to earn.

“The patient’s medical history and medical needs play a large role in the rate to be charged,” says Nicholas Rorabaugh of Care to Continue in Athens, Georgia.

People with dementia or a history of stroke or those who need specialized medical equipment, for example, tend to require a more complex level of care, resulting in higher rates for the responsible caregiver, he says.

Cross agrees, adding that in addition to assessing current needs, caregivers should also discuss how pay rates will adjust as those needs change over time.

Another thing to consider is whether you will be caring for a couple rather than a single individual. If so, Cross recommends increasing your hourly rate by about $2 to $4, depending on the level of care required.

4. Other benefits or compensation you may receive

What you charge on an hourly basis may not be the only way to be compensated for your caregiver services. Some families may also offer perks and benefits in addition to your standard rate of pay. Here are some examples, according to Cross:

  • Paid vacation.
  • Periodic premiums, such as at the end of each calendar year.
  • Payment of overtime.
  • Contributions to health insurance premiums.

What to charge for additional services

Although every family and every situation is slightly different, the rate charged by home caregivers generally includes all of the basic tasks necessary to help a person live in their home, including preparing meals, managing medications, assistance during bathing, shopping and light work. household, says Rorabaugh.

If you are asked to take on additional responsibilities beyond what is necessary to care for the individual (or, in some cases, the couple), these tasks could justify asking for a small additional salary.

Here are some examples of additional services:

  • Take care of pets.
  • Traveling with the person on the trip or accompanying them to special events.
  • Reimbursement of mileage if you use your own car to transport the person.

What you should ask for for these responsibilities may differ depending on the extra workload, standard, or inconvenience, Cross says. For example, while vacation pay is typically around 1.5 to 2 times the usual hourly rate (the same rate as in many other industries), the amount charged by additional caregivers for animal care varies. from one case to another.

“Is it a cuddly cocker spaniel where they make sure he has food and water, or do they take a Rottweiler out four times a day and clean up after he goes to the bathroom?” says Cross.

The former may not warrant any extra pay, while the latter may increase your hourly rate by $1 or $2.

When to ask for a raise

One of the biggest mistakes home keepers make when setting their rates is not discussing raises in advance, Cross says.

Some families might not realize that caregivers should receive raises, just like employees in other sectors, he says. But these periodic wage increases are important so that carers can cope with rising rent prices and other living costs.

Cross recommends caregivers and families include a schedule of increases in the initial caregiver contract, including setting a minimum rate increase, such as $1 to $2 per year. Establishing a range (rather than a set amount) for the raise gives the family leeway to increase the raise based on performance, he says.

There’s no perfect formula for determining a fair rate of pay for your caregiver services, but thinking about some of these variables can help you move closer to a fair rate of pay for everyone involved.

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