Do you tip home support workers at Christmas time? If so, how much is appropriate?

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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!

Answers 1 to 10 of 10
Top Answer
Gosh, I never thought about whether it was ok with the agency. Isn't that funny that it's ok to tip the person who puts your meal down in front of you in a restaurant, but maybe not the person who does it in your own home, plus washes your private parts to boot!

I like the idea of gift cards. We don't have a Target here though. We do have a Walmart, but we personally don't support Walmart for a number of reasons. I guess (if we are allowed) cash would be more reasonable, because I wouldn't want to dictate where others can shop. Alternatively, I'm thinking about grocery store cards, because everyone needs to eat! My mom was a single mom herself, so we both know how tight things can get around Christmas.

Thanks for the input everyone!
Gas cards are another possibility, everyone can use them. I gave my housekeeper $100 gift card last year ad she took 20 of her family to the casino for breakfast. She also spent hours cleaning one of my rentals and when I offered to pay her she refused. I told her if she did not take it I would never feel able to ask her to help me with something again. She did take it but told me if i did not ask another favor she would suck me up in her vacuum cleaner.
I agree it would be best to check with the provider that you won't be breaking any rules. But I can't see their objecting too strongly to what my great aunt used to call "a note" tucked into a Christmas card - only you would have to do the same for each person or you'll be generating odious comparisons.

I gave our main caregivers a cute tree decoration and a stocking-filler type present for her little boy respectively - these went down well and cost next to nothing.

And you could leave a festive box of biscuits or a cake or a tin of candies in the kitchen for them to help themselves.

Your caregivers sound like real treasures, and that being so I'm sure what they'll appreciate most is the appreciation.
It's usually against the rules for them to accept any gifts but nobody will object to a small token of appreciation, I always just gave a Timmies card, nothing more than $20.
When I had checked with the Agency that my Dad used for his caregivers, I asked if it was ok to give the caregivers a gift. They said it was ok.

The best thing I found, which was popular in my area, were gift cards from Target since there were many Target stores nearby where the caregivers lived.... and Target has such a large variety of retail items.

Oh my! Yes, indeed, the professional caregivers always get a substantial gift at Christmas. We have two now who I believe are angels in disguise. They have been the longest term caregivers and I know they appreciate a little extra at Christmas. My parents not only contribute some of their "pin" money, but we children do too. We give it in a Christmas card.
Read your contract for any prohibitions. Otherwise, I usually tip on week's wages.
Both of the caregivers I had for each of my parents got a nice gift. I knew enough about them to know what they like...the gift was personal.

There is a big difference between help provided by an outside agency to those you employ yourself. As others have said many agencies have rules about recieving gifts. But cookies or candy or flowers, plants, fruit etc would still be appropriate.
If the caregivers are your employees the sky is the limit depending on your financial situation.
The caregivers will have a good idea what you can afford having been in your home so whatever you decide will be appropriate. The equivalent of a weeks pay will be much appreciated, otherwise a nice gift of something you know they will like or even something you know a single Mom wants for her kids. Just make sure you are even handed whatever you choose to do.
When I was working for hospice our director opened all mail adressed to the nurses in case a family had sent money as a thank you gift. It is illegal to open other peoples mail so we objected strongly and she stopped. At the same time she would be right there when you collected your mail. One day I got a letter from one of the funeral homes. She stood right there as I opened it. So I looked at her and said"Why don't you read it to me L, I don't have my reading glasses" She grabbed it with great glee but found it to be a thank you note for how helpful I was when someone died at night. No folding green stuff fell out.
Robinr says, "We have encouraged people that they can show their appreciation by making a contribution to our non-profit agency, or to an employee appreciation fund we established, which is rarely done."
The problem with this policy is that an exceptional caregiver doesn't directly receive the gift of appreciation she deserves! I suspected that the agency of our mom's reliable caregiver had such a policy, so we slipped cash into a Christmas card. She was very grateful.
I volunteer in a literacy program and a student gave me a thank-you note with a cash gift. I was touched by her gesture but embarrassed; I didn't need the cash, and she had dug deeply into her pocket to give it.
My program director said I could suggest she donate the money to the program instead. The program receives an abundance of donations and grants, so I found that idea offensive. I wrote her a warm thank you card returning the cash, explaining I'm not allowed to accept it, and would be happy to go for coffee one day together after class instead.

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