Do you tip home support workers at Christmas time? If so, how much is appropriate?
We have been getting home support in 3x a week. They come in the morning on mom's dialysis days to help her with personal care and meals, and back in the evening to help with meals and make sure mom is comfortable. They do quite a lot in a small amount of time, including some housework like dishes or bedmaking, and it's a huge help to me - I can now sleep in a bit on dialysis days (my morning personality is not suited to helping someone shower or clean their bottom!!), and I can plan evening activities knowing someone is there to make sure mom is safe and looked after.
We're in Canada. This is organized through the public health system, but the home support is operated by a private company that holds the contract with the government. How much you pay is based on your income - low income people would get a full subsidy for home support, for example. Mom has enough income that we are not subsidized, but honestly, I feel what we pay is pretty nominal ($40 per day), and consider us lucky to live where we do. For that, we get about an hour and a quarter's worth of home care per day - 45 minutes in the morning and a half hour in the evening. We could get up to 4 hours per day if we were assessed for needing that much. The down side of using "public" home support instead of going to a private company is that there is a rotating group of workers, and who we get when can be a little unpredictable.
I know these women - they are almost all women - don't make much money in comparison to the work they do. Minimum wage in my province is $11.35, and I'd be surprised if they make much more than that. I'd guess $12-15 at most. Lots of them seem to be single moms. We don't always get the same workers, but there are 2 regular ladies that mom and I both really like, and these 2 almost always do the morning the shifts (which are the longest and most physically intimate). The rest are workers we see occasionally, but we're getting to know them too.
So my question is - is it appropriate to tip home support workers during the holidays? And how much do you think would be appropriate? Would you differentiate between the workers who provide regular care and the ones who are there occasionally? Would it be more appropriate to give gifts? (I don't do holiday baking or crafts, so it would end up being store bought gifts.) I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on this!