Celebrating Caregivers - Tis the Season

Holidays a Great Time to Acknowledge What Caregivers Do All Year

celebrate home care workers
The holidays are a great time to celebrate paid and unpaid home health caregivers. Here are some ideas. Getty Images

Towards the end of each calendar year, we celebrate holidays that remind us to be grateful and to give, not just receive. For those who employ caregivers—either an employer or a family member who relies on professional care for a loved one-- it is a time to acknowledge what these caregivers do year-round to help someone continue to live a quality life with assistance. Let’s celebrate caregivers this holiday season.

It’s hard to know what to get for someone who is more comfortable with giving than receiving. Here I share what caregivers receive from their employers during the holidays and why.

Jon Hersh, owner of Homewatch CareGivers in Columbus, Ohio embraces the spirit of the season starting in November with gratitude in the form of additional pay and keeps on giving through the December holidays.

“'Tis the season, right?” he says.  “The holidays are all about a time of giving and appreciating the ones you care about. Typically this means friends and family, but we have always considered our caregivers part of our family. Therefore, giving gifts to our caregivers is just like giving gifts to our family and what better way to show how much we appreciate them than to let them know with tokens of our appreciation?”

Mr. Hersh doesn’t just put a gift in paychecks for his caregivers.

“We also have a holiday meal with ‘all the fixin's’,” he says.

  “Last year, we had turkey, stuffing, vegetables, desserts, etc., and served everyone at our office. They really appreciated that.”

Mr. Hersh lets his caregivers vote on a gift of their choice and last year they chose gift certificates so he gave each caregiver a $25 gift card to their favorite store.

Oh, and he has 50 caregivers. “In addition, we handed out boxes of local, handmade chocolates to everyone,” he says. “It’s a lot but, it’s well worth it.”

Anzor Gachechiladze, president of Homewatch CareGivers in Chapel Hill and Raleigh, North Carolina, has a similar approach to gifting his caregivers. “We try to do a different thing ever year,” he says. “Sometimes we do $25 gift cards, sometimes we give them Homewatch CareGivers’ scrubs, t-shirts, or sweatshirts, one time we gave each employee a Butterball turkey and another year we had these great Christmas tree ornaments for each of them.”

In addition, they host an open house between Thanksgiving and the December holidays that includes a spread of food for all caregivers and their families. “They love coming to that,” Mr. Gachechiladze says. “It’s a nice socialization time because even though they work for the same company they may not work together or get to know each other.”

Despite the fact that whether he is giving gift cards, ornaments or preparing food, Mr. Gachechiladze is doing so for about 170 people since he has two offices.

“We do all of this to show them that we care,” he explains. “That’s our message from the very first hour of them doing orientation: to feel that they are part of a company, part of my extended family, and I don’t want them to feel it’s just a part-time job they picked up.”

In Ann Arbor, Michigan, Breanne Stuart, owner, and director of Homewatch CareGivers delights in coming up with creative ways to reward her caregivers during the holidays. “We always have a holiday party inviting caregivers and their entire families to a bowling outing,” she says. “At the party, we give gifts to the kids, make crafts with the kids and give gift cards for silly things like the ‘best bowler’ or ‘ugliest sweater’.”

In addition, they do a holiday picture and then cards with the photos. “It has really caught on and everyone loves to see their pictures,” Ms. Stuart adds. “When we are able, we give bonuses to the caregivers based on length of service.”

Ms. Stuart’s family owns a Christmas tree farm she is also able to offer free Christmas trees to her caregivers.

“We LOVE our caregivers and it is so much fun connecting with them,” Ms. Stuart says of the holiday party and extra time spent celebrating together at this time of year.

Since caregivers are there to help people feel less lonely or, in some cases, help them be able to celebrate their holidays with family, it’s so important that they too feel cherished.

What these caregivers seem to appreciate is what we all want: time together with friends and family--possibly sharing a delicious meal while catching up, a little extra money to spend on themselves or to buy a gift for someone else, and being made to feel that they are appreciated.

Remember to recognize the caregiver in your life this holiday season with something that tells them their care year round matters. And also remember the thousands of family members who spend countless time and money caring for a loved one voluntarily. You may be one yourself or certainly know of someone. Thank them for what they do and consider some way you can show that gratitude, perhaps by assisting them or giving something to pamper them and give them a break from their caregiving duties.

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