10 Must-Know Differences Between A Maid and A Caregiver

Learn the 10 key differences between a maid and a caregiver and compare how to choose the best solution for your family.

by Calvyn Ee

There will come a time when our loved ones may require extra help to perform their daily activities, or need medical support when they are ill. Many families have resorted to hiring maids to care for their elderly loved ones, but there are times when a maid is unable to or fails to meet the responsibilities needed to care for someone.

Caregiving is still a responsibility taken up by family members, as the costs of being warded in a hospital or hiring a maid are still considered a luxury. With smaller family units and relatives being busy with their own lives, hiring a maid is often considered a last resort as family members juggle between their careers and their caregiving duties.

If you are thinking about hiring someone to look after your ailing parents, or another loved one, you might want to consider your choices carefully. What is the most well-suited option for your loved one? Which option will give you peace of mind, knowing that your loved one will be well cared for? With this guide, we hope to help you make the right decision in selecting a carer for your loved ones.

What is the Difference Between Maids and Caregivers?

Maids, or domestic helpers, are persons hired to help out with chores at home or to care for individuals such as families with young children or the elderly in the home. They are usually hired via various employment agencies, or by individuals who work as domestic helpers, and are under the purview of the Malaysian Immigration Department. Depending on a number of factors, such as the employment agency’s fees, the salary of the average maid can be between RM2,000 to RM3,000. There are also agencies that provide domestic helpers at hourly rates to help with cleaning the house and provide additional household services, but their responsibilities may be more limited compared to a live-in maid under your employ.

Home caregivers, on the other hand, are individuals who take on the commitment and responsibility of looking after someone who requires assistance in helping themselves due to illness, disabilities, or mental health issues. They will stay at a person’s home to help with activities such as meal preparation, dressing, grooming, medication monitoring, transportation and even light housekeeping. Some services may even have professional nurses that can provide caregiving services. They are certified individuals that can help attend to your loved one’s medical needs.

While it may seem that both roles do overlap with one another, there is more to it than just their expected roles and responsibilities.

1. Training and Accreditation

Generally, maids do not have any qualifications in providing medical care. Their primary role is to help with chores and some basic care for elderly persons or young children.  They do not have any professional training in providing advanced care for elderly people with specific care needs, though it is possible to enrol them in such courses if need be. Some maids may have a qualification in providing household assistance in order to work as domestic helpers. In the Philippines, for example, maids may have a Technical Education and Skills Development (TESDA) certification in household services. This could lead to the possibility of having to bear the cost of the training program (should the employment agency refuse to sponsor it) or needing to pay a higher salary in line with the new training received.

Caregivers, on the other hand, are trained individuals who are capable of providing quality care for the elderly, and even children in specific cases. Not only can they help out with household chores, but they are also able to provide your loved one with medication reminders, companionship, and assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs). Professional nurse caregivers are also qualified care providers, where they are qualified to assist your loved ones with advanced nursing procedures, such as wound care, urine bag drainage, and so forth.

When deciding on whether to hire a maid or caregiver, do note that there is a difference between “care for the elderly” and “care for the disabled”. The former may not necessarily imply caregiving duties are required, as it might refer to elderly persons who are still healthy and independent, requiring only some assistance with ADLs in the house.

2. Key Duties and Responsibilities

Maids are hired to help out with household chores and basic care for elderly persons and young children. They can provide some level of companionship outside of their main responsibilities, such as taking your loved one out for short walks, accompanying them while watching television, or swapping stories. Beyond that, they are incapable of providing advanced care when it is needed unless they do have medical care accreditation. They are more capable of general household assistance depending on the household’s needs.

Caregivers are more oriented towards attending to the care recipient’s well being. This means diverting their time and energy looking after your loved one’s needs and providing companionship and support. They can also provide assistance with ADLs, but general housekeeping does not fall under their purview. You will need to specify the work expectations with the caregiver (or the association that provides their services), as specific responsibilities may require specific skills. If the caregiver can manage your loved one’s needs, they can sometimes help with some light housework relating to the personal hygiene and well-being of the care recipient.

3. Patience and Willingness

While maids are able to handle household duties well, caring for someone else is an entirely different matter, and can be a test of patience. Not all domestic helpers will be able to handle the stresses of looking after someone, especially if the care recipient is hostile or uncooperative with the maid. There may be maids who are also unwilling to take care of care recipients with disabilities, either because they are not experienced in providing such care, are fearful that they might injure the care recipient in the process, or are aware of its difficulties. The heavy demands of such caregiving work are not suited for maids with their general skill set.

Caregivers, especially experienced ones, are more equipped to handle care recipients and their various needs. Even if your loved one has occasional mood swings due to their condition, or simply refuses to cooperate, professional caregivers will know what to do to effectively handle these problems with little fuss or trouble. Caregivers will need to have the patience and emotional maturity to encourage or coax your loved one to work with them in performing ADLs or taking steps toward their recovery.

4. Professionalism

Maids mainly provide assistance with household chores and are usually not professionally equipped to take care of an elderly person who requires medical attention. They can provide basic care for elderly persons and young children, but anything beyond these basics will require additional training at your expense. Maids who do not have any prior experience to caring for sickly or dependent persons may find themselves overwhelmed by having to take on this responsibility.

There are also instances where a maid’s negligence can lead to accidents, such as your loved one having a serious fall. On the other end of the spectrum, a maid may be willing to help as best as they can. However, when they lack the appropriate training, they may end up causing more harm than good. For example, transferring a bedridden senior to a wheelchair can prove to be a very daunting, and painful, task to accomplish.

Caregivers are more equipped to help with giving the best care for your loved ones, from companionship to medication reminders. Nurse caregivers have medical knowledge that enables them to attend to the medical needs of your loved one. They are extensively trained to give the very best care that your loved one needs, and know exactly what to do and how to instruct you if you wish to help or learn the ropes.

5. Accommodation

Maids will normally stay with you and your loved ones so that they can help with household duties throughout the day. Some agencies may provide maids at an hourly rate to help with cleaning and other chores and will leave once their duties are completed.

Depending on circumstances, caregivers will only stay to assist your loved one for the allotted time that was agreed upon. The number of times a week and duration of care the caregiver provides is flexible and up to discussion between the family and the caregiver.

6. Access to Transportation

Employed maids will be staying with you and your loved one, and will thus follow you and your loved one when going out. As a safety precaution, and also due to differences in driving laws in Malaysia and their originating country, maids may not hold a driving licence of their own. They can help you keep an eye on your loved ones while outdoors and even feed them during meals.

Caregivers will have transportation of their own to be able as a requirement for their duties. This means they will not need to infringe on your time to send them to and fro. In certain parts of your town or city with accessible means of public transportation, they might use public transportation to easily get to your location.

7. Language Proficiency

Maids will have a basic command of essential languages, namely Bahasa Malaysia and English, but this varies depending on various factors, such as their background, or whether they have attended language classes provided by an employment agency. Generally, before hiring a maid, the employment agency will take note if you may have specific language requirements. For example, your loved one may only converse in Mandarin and some basic Bahasa Malaysia. You would want a maid who is able to converse well with your loved one, thus avoiding unnecessary misunderstandings due to a language barrier.

Similarly, caregivers can come from diverse backgrounds. Caregivers who are locals themselves may also be multilingual, able to speak and write in three languages or more, which can be beneficial for your caregiving needs.

8. Cost

The minimum salary range for a maid can start from RM2,000 a month, excluding the cost of the employment agency’s fees, maid levy (if any), paid rest days, insurance, and food and transportation allowances. Here at Homage, you can get a qualified home caregiver for as low as RM29 an hour, depending on your loved one’s needs.

9. Processing Time

The average wait time to hire a caregiver can take about seven days. This includes the time needed to discuss your requirements, set boundaries and do other fine-tuning. For maids, if they are hired through an agency, the wait time could be one to four weeks after the helper’s application process has been finalised. This can potentially take longer if the agency needs to address immigration documentation or other affairs before the maid can start performing their duties.

10. Emergency Situations

In an emergency, such as when your loved one has a bad fall, the maid may not be able to take the necessary steps to address the emergency. This may happen because they are not sure how to deal with the emergency, either due to panic or having no experience in effectively dealing with it. Providing them with additional training can help to mitigate the consequences of an emergency. Maids might not be fully aware of how they can actually plan ahead to prevent accidents from happening, as most of their time will be focused on completing their assigned responsibilities, with little room to think ahead for the benefit of their loved ones.

Caregivers are more equipped to deal with an emergency should it arise. They know how best to prepare the house and make it as safe as possible for your loved one so as to prevent an accident from happening. Even if an emergency does arise, they will have the necessary knowledge to mitigate its effects on your loved one. This could potentially be a lifesaver in otherwise crippling accidents.

Making a Decision

Carefully consider which care option would be most suitable for your loved one. If they are in good health and are independent, but could use an extra helping hand while you are away at work, a maid would be an optimal choice to help out with the chores and keep the house tidy. If your loved one needs medical attention and companionship or is bedridden due to illness, a caregiver will be the most ideal choice to care for them.

It is also important to be aware of what your loved ones will need, and whether they will be open to a complete stranger being around to help them with ADLs. Discuss the matter with them openly, and be sure to address their concerns as best as you can. Listen to their own concerns, too, so that you can make adjustments tailored to what they will need.

Are you looking for someone to care for your loved ones?

Homage provides caregiving services for your loved ones at every stage. Our trained care professionals are able to provide companionship, nursing care, night caregiving, home therapy and more, to keep your loved ones active and engaged.

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About the Writer
Calvyn Ee
Calvyn is an aspiring author, poet and storyteller. He spends his time reading, gaming and building stories with his action figure photography.
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