Elderly Care Guide: Hiring Caregiver vs Maid

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According to a study by the Asian Development Bank last September 2020, 25% of the Singaporean population will be aged 65 and above by 2030. This is 9% higher than it was in 2019. Of that quarter of the population, 87% are predicted to be healthy and independent while 13% will need assistance to go about their daily lives.

Awareness of the importance of elder care is growing to match the need for elder care services Singapore. When looking for a care provider for an elderly parent, choosing among the many options of home care services can be overwhelming. It will be helpful to understand the basic difference between the care services that the maid for the elderly and a caregiver can provide so you can make the best decision for your loved ones.

Maids are typically hired to perform domestic chores such as housekeeping, infant care, child care and eldercare. As such a maid for the Elderly is a foreign domestic worker(FDW) who was employed to provide care for the well being of the elderly family members in the household.

Caregivers, on the other hand, are trained with a nursing background to provide specialised care to those who need it.

The difference between ‘care’ and ‘specialised care’ will be further elaborated in the next point.

The key differences between a domestic worker and a caregiver lie in their responsibilities as well as the certification and skill sets they have received in training.

Responsibilities of a Maid and Caregiver

Responsibilities for maids may include accompanying elderly family members on walks or to doctor’s appointments, preparing meals according to dietary requirements, light domestic chores (cleaning the elderly’s immediate surroundings and belongings) as well as ensuring medicine is taken as prescribed.

Caregivers also have the same set of basic skills. However, they are additionally trained with the necessary skill sets to provide essential advanced care depending on the medical condition of the care recipients. They can assist a care recipient who has difficulty with activities of daily living (ADL) such as personal hygiene, feeding as well as mobility.

Training and Certification

While domestic helpers may be trained in household chores, maids generally require additional training if part of their job scope is to care for an elderly person.

Caregivers, on the other hand, would have a certificate from a caregiving or nursing aide course, diploma or a degree. They can cater to the caregiving needs of a care recipient of any age as they have received proper training.

Caregivers are equipped to guide the elderly person through simple rehabilitation exercises and even provide massages. Although caregivers are not substitutes for healthcare professionals, they do provide advanced care services taught in caregiver training which include tube feeding, suctioning, oxygen therapy, administering injections, and urinary catheter care.

Maids for the Elderly and caregivers are primarily tasked to provide care to the care recipient. Household chores are not in their job scope unless it is the care recipient’s immediate environment (room, bed, things, etc.). As such, it is important to have a clear discussion on duties and roles with the care provider to set expectations and avoid misunderstandings.


Generally, domestic workers have a salary that ranges from $450 -$600. The salary can depend on the maid’s nationality, level of experience and if they have previous work experience in Singapore.

Meanwhile, certified caregivers can be hired at hourly rates of $19. You may also choose to hire a full time caregiver for elderly Singapore. Certified or experienced live in caregivers have rates that range from $580 – $1000 depending on their qualifications and caregiving experience.

Caregivers are recognized as experienced when they have had years of work that entailed caring for a disabled or elderly care recipient who needed help with activities of daily living (such as eating, showering, toileting, etc.)


Employers have to pay a levy of $300 for the first foreign domestic worker hired in the household and $450 for subsequently hired FDWs. A concessionary levy of $60 for 1 FDW could be granted to a household with Singaporean Citizens who fall under the following categories:

  • 67 years old and above; or
  • a person with disabilities (PWD) who require help with at least one activity of daily living as certified by a Singapore-registered doctor; or
  • a young child below 16 years of age

A maximum of two FDWs is eligible for levy concessions per household wherein 1 eligible household member grants a levy concession for 1 FDW.

Living Expenses

Food, toiletries, and transportation costs can add up to $420 per month. Additionally, MOM requires employers to buy medical insurance as well as pay for semi-annual medical exams for their care providers. A basic insurance plan costs $292 for 26-month coverage while a semi-annual exam costs $60.


a.  Budget

To hire full-time Caregivers, expect to pay based on their experience and training. That said, new graduates from caregiving schools will cost less than those who have years of experience. Alternatively, families can consider hiring a maid with no prior training and allow them to take caregiver training. Existing grants such as the home caregiving grant which typically costs $200-$500 can help alleviate costs. The training can range from a few hour sessions to a3 day course.

b.  Elderly’s needs and medical history

Taking into consideration the specific needs of the care recipients ensures they receive the appropriate care. For those who do not need help with basic ADL, maids will have the right skills sufficient to perform light housework as well as cook meals. For elderly people who have more difficulty moving around and has existing medical conditions that need supervision, caregivers are better trained to provide rigorous care routines as required.

c. Presence of other FDW in the household

If there are other domestic workers in the household that see to other household chores, hiring a maid for the elderly or caregiver who could focus on the well being of elderly family members will help ease worries. It is not advisable to add caring for a person who needs special care on top of the existing workload as divided focus and time equates to substandard care.


Many factors need to be considered when choosing between a maid and a caregiver. Beyond looking at their resume and certification, it is important to interview your candidates and get a feel of their personality to ensure they can provide the appropriate care that your elderly family member needs.

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