Offering room with all included isn't part of the payment for care?

Asked by

Anyone who works and lives on their own has to pay rent, food and all house bills (water, power, communications, heat...). That's a big part of any salary. Even a doctor who's well paid (supposedly) has to give part of his salary for his house, food and bills. Let's say someone earns 1300 a month, then pays rent (...700) then food (150) and bills (another 150). In the end of the month has 300 left.

I really don't understand how a live-in caregiver will ask for the same 1300 plus ALL expenses paid. It's 1300 left in the end of the month...It's a lot of money.
Don't get me wrong, I know it's a hard job, but it's still way too much money if the person - contrary to the rest of the population - doesn't have to pay for house, food, power, heat, internet, tv, water...

Why aren't these expenses considered in what they ask?

Answers 1 to 10 of 10
Top Answer
This is not a personal attack but rather my own thoughts on a topic that has bothered me for years.

It never ceases to amaze me what our society is willing to pay for a haircut or a fancy cup of coffee- yet the rate paid to the people giving care to our children and our elderly is crap.

I’m not talking the rate paid to the facilities- I’m talking the typical daycare worker or the typical CNA. Ask one of them what they make per hour.
They can ask it probably because it's what their job is valued at on the market right now.

I would start figuring out what this job is really worth by asking how many hours per week the employee is expected to be available. Are they expected to be "on call" 24/7? Do they get days off where they can leave the patient/property? Many labour laws require employers to give employees 8 hours off between shifts - is the employee being given this, or are they still "on call?" Just because a worker isn't performing labour while they're sleeping (or doing other personal things), it doesn't mean they aren't working - if they are expected to be available to deal with issues as they arise, then they are working.

Then I would ask what the local minimum wage is and if they were earning at least that for their time. I'd ask if the employee is being paid appropriately for overtime (often, under labour laws, employees working more than 40 hours a week must be compensated with extra wages, say 1.5 - 2 x their hourly rate). I'd ask the same about statutory holidays. I'd wonder who was expected to pay their government contributions, such as unemployment insurance, pension, and worker's compensation. I'd wonder how their taxes were being paid and by whom. (Wages "in kind" are still considered wages - under tax laws the employee would be seen as paying room and board out of their taxable wages.)

The answers to these questions would be very important in determining what their work was worth.

Also, I'd be curious how an employee would pay their other expenses if they were ONLY paid in room and board, and weren't able to take a 2nd job because of their 1st job's requirements. Are their medical expenses paid by the employer? What about toiletries and other personal care needs? Transportation? Clothing? Personal cell phone? Does the employer contribute to their pension fund? What about travel to visit family? Will the employee have to ask for stamps to mail a letter?

Then I'd ask, is the employer still going to charge them for meals they don't eat, or refund that part of their wages to them? What if they don't watch TV or use the internet - will the employer refund that part of their wages? Just because something a perk of the job, it doesn't make it wages. What about water - are you saying access to water should be a part of their wages? That having a heated workplace, or a place of work with electricity, should be considered part of their wages? In what other workplace would that be true? Plus the employer is already providing those things for the patient, so they are not even perks, if they could be considered perks in the first place.

I think it's ok to consider room and board PART of their wage, but certainly not their whole wage. And a lawyer would certainly be able to sue an employer on an employee's behalf if they were only paid in room and board.

Personally, I think 1,300 as an example is a terrible wage, based on wages where I live. Minimum wage here is 11.65, which is just over 2,000 per month at 40 hours per week - not including any overtime or stat holidays. That's a counter clerk at McDonald's, or a retail worker at the Gap. Not somebody doing the stressful job of providing intimate care to my loved one.
It's like people have already pointed out, it depends on the job description. Somebody who is merely a companion or does minor household cleaning and meal prep is totally different than someone who must supervise someone with dementia, help with ADL's, deal with incontinence and be on call 24/7. $10/hour for a 24 hour day is $240 per day. And people who are "on call" DO get paid for that, even if it is just a higher base salary and not per hour.
Bottom line is, if you find someone willing to work for what you are offering, great! If you can't find anyone, or if those you find are leaving you have to rethink your offer or lower your standards... it's called free enterprise, even the most loving, charitable people won't work unless it makes financial sense for them.
I agree with Dorianne. What's going on with all the taxes that will be owed?

I see from your profile that your loved one that you take care of lives in their own home. Maybe that's not really possible anymore and they need to be in a facility?
Let's break that down.

$1300 a month is about 306 per week. (4.25 weeks in a month). For a live in job. So by day.. $48 per day! That is less than 3 hours of pay per day! Really?

I am amazed you find anyone even willing to consider such a paultry amount. Yeah..throw in the room and board...let's say that is really worth another 1300 per month...that brings the pay up to 98 per day! Anyone here willing to do the job for that much?

The bigger question is why would you insist on being so cheap? And..how is that working for you? Consider the quality you are hiring at that incredibly low wage.
"After 20 minutes yelling, being rude, saying and unsaying, I said: If you can't decide, I decide for you, you leave tomorrow. . . . . .So I said FINE! you stay one month, you can search for a job here so you don't have to go back....you know what she did?"

Unfortunately, this person was a master manipulator. THEIR sob stories are not your problem, so don't let them become your problem. I would have told her, "I'm so sorry that your family is so horrible to you. Unfortunately, this isn't working out for us, so TODAY will be your last day." If I feel particularly guilty, I'll throw in some extra money on departure, but NEVER let them stay around if they are causing problems. Their anger will end up biting you in some way (theft, destruction, absence, bad care, etc.)
Room and board might be a great perk if you are a single woman with no other home to maintain, but often these women have a husband and/or children they are also sharing expenses with, or they keep a small room elsewhere so they have someplace to go on their days off. And although many women do it, I personally would never want to be totally dependent on my employer for a roof over my head, it just makes you too vulnerable to being taken advantage of because you have no other options.
I'd say if you can find someone willing to work 24/7 (or anywhere close to that!) for $1300 a month, you're getting a good deal. That's less than $45 per DAY. Assuming that person ONLY "works" a 40 hour week, that's $7.50 an hour, which is less than half of what any agency in my area would charge for the same work. Factor in that the helper's other living expenses are paid, I'd say that sounds about right. HOWEVER, we all know that a live-in caregiver HARDLY works a mere 40 hours a week. As mentioned above, they are on call even when they are sleeping. So, considering a 24 hour work day, you are paying less than $1.80 an hour. Again, if I hired the service we are currently using to stay 'round the clock, I would be paying a MINIMUM of $450 per DAY. You are paying less than 10% the going rate. I'd say that was a bargain!

We currently spend $1800 each month for 10 hours of ADL assistance (per week), 8 hours of housekeeping (per month), and 15 hours of driving/companion services (per week). If I could find someone of quality who was willing to LIVE with my in-laws rent free PLUS $1300 a month and provide ONLY what we are paying for now, they could eat all they wanted and watch cable TV the rest of the time, and we'd STILL come out ahead!! Heck!! I'd even install high speed internet for them!!
Carenightmare--

You have had an incredibly bad run of help, I'm sorry to say.

I worked Elder Care---it was brutal, exhausting work. I worked through an agency and was paid minimum wage---hardly a living wage--and I worked HARD. $1300 a month to do what I did 24/7?? There is NO WAY I would accept such a paltry sum and consider myself recompensed for what I did. A good caregiver is like a ruby! A bad one, well, you know.

Keep trying to find someone who works well for you. You've seen the bad, but there are good ones out there, trust me. But you're probably going to have to pay more. You feel like they aren't "doing much" but they are THERE and you don't need to be. How much is that worth to you? Just not having to think about whether or not your LO is alone and lonely, or has someone with them 24/7. Really, in many cases, you couldn't conceivably pay ENOUGH for that kind of peace of mind.

At some point, a MW worker NEEDS and DESERVES a raise. The turnover rate at my company was about 80% per year--people just could not get by on MW. We weren't live in--some workers did night shifts, but were paid time and a half. Still not much.
You'll be better off if you stop focusing on what pay you think they should be happy with and instead focus on what is the competitive rate in your area. When you find an employee willing to work for rock bottom pay, there's usually a reason (absences, theft, unreliable, etc.)

As an employer, I would never look at pay that way for my employees. I always check around with competitors and then tried to pay my employees more so that I could attract the best employees.

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support