Should My Parent Have a Male or Female Caregiver?
Many family members have a ready answer to this question because they have a picture in mind of the ideal caregiver for Mom. We’ll share some data and observations on choosing female versus male caregivers. And, we’ll reveal our experiences with the best way to make sure you get the right caregiver for your parent.
The Male Caregiver: Changing Perceptions
Quite commonly, people associate women with caregiving. If you were thinking of a caregiver for Mom, you may not have even pictured a male caregiver. This is understandable as about 89% of home health caregivers are female.
However, despite still having a minority of male students, one of the largest home health schools has seen the number double in the past 15 years. Additionally, millions of men are now the primary caregivers for ill and aging loved ones. Statistics from the Pew Research Center as far back as 2012 showed men represented up to 45% of family caregivers.
Despite this, perceptions can be slow to change and the home health industry still sees low numbers of men joining our workforce. Among those small numbers, many share experiences of facing challenges and not being given enough work.
A 2017 article pointed out that unemployed men could be the key to solving the high demand for home health care workers. However, “potential male hires, along with women and clients, are uncomfortable with men filling these traditionally feminine roles”. So, it’s worth turning a critical eye to our assumptions and exploring how to determine the best possible caregiver match.
Determining Who Will Make The Best Caregiver for Mom
The best way to determine the ideal caregiver for Mom is to have a structured “job description”. We call this a careplan. Knowing Mom’s specific needs and the duties involved helps determine who can best fulfill them. When using a home care agency like EasyLiving, you’ll have highly experienced staffing personnel to assist. Rather than asking them to match based on external characteristics, let them help you by finding the best person for the job.
We recommend meeting the caregiver(s) they’ve selected even if they don’t fit your preconceived ideas. As one male caregiver shared on a forum, families often tell the agency they don’t want a man. However, he’s never had a client or family ask for someone else once they have met and worked with him. Many of the wonderful male caregivers at EasyLiving have had the same experience and have been some of our clients’ favorites.
We also use a Life History & Daily Routines Questionnaire™ to assist with the matching process, as well as giving the caregiver useful information when working with your parent. This helps us get to know you, so we can deliver the personalized care you want.
When hiring a home care agency, find out what process they use to hire, train and match caregivers. Ask how they arm the caregivers with the information on how you want care delivered. If Mom has preferences like having her bed made first thing in the morning or food prepared a certain way, these can be the things that make or break the experience. If you are hiring someone directly (which we don’t recommend), think about how you will determine if the person can handle Mom’s needs and how you’ll prepare them for the job.
Male Caregiver or Female: Handling Personal Care with Dignity
Sometimes families feel Mom would be more comfortable with a male caregiver for personal care. We understand this concern. However, it is important to know the training caregivers receive for providing personal care with dignity. Whether a male caregiver or female, a well-trained caregiver ensures all personal care is provided in a safe, comfortable and dignified manner.
We were really impressed by EasyLiving’s process in helping us find a caregiver for Mom. They asked many good questions and we felt they really cared. But, we were a bit concerned when they assigned John. We worried that Mom would feel strange with a male caregiver in her home. But, she really enjoyed his company. He was just the right balance of quiet, capable and friendly. At first, we didn’t have it in the careplan for him to help Mom with baths. But, she was struggling and actually brought it up with John. He was so kind and gentle in handing the most personal tasks for her, which was a godsend as her illness progressed.
Mom had gained some weight over the years and had difficulty getting out of bed and the chair. She also had a lot of household tasks that needed to be done. We felt like a male caregiver might be best to handle the physical tasks and lift Mom. The supervisor assured us that all caregivers are trained in safe lifting and transfer techniques. And, she said they would attend the first visit to assess that the caregiver could fully handle Mom’s needs. They’d let us know if any equipment or other changes would be needed for Mom’s and the caregiver’s safety. We were amazed at how easily Elaine, Mom’s caregiver, handled Mom and all the physical tasks. She was strong, but we could also see what a difference proper technique made.
Home Care Agencies: Encouraging Diversity
As the demand for in-home care continues to grow, home care agencies need to recruit more qualified caregivers. Diversity is not only a necessity, it makes the home care agency better. This extends to encouraging men and people of different backgrounds to get into the field, and supporting them in their work. EasyLiving feels strongly about this and has zero tolerance for discrimination. This means we don’t accept directives to “only send a white caregiver”, for example. We ask each client/family to meet the most qualified candidates.
This is also why we feel it’s so important to share families’ stories and articles like this. We hope it will help you as your family deals with caregiving needs. If you need to find the best caregiver for a parent in Florida, contact EasyLiving.