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Maid - Domestic helper vs caregiver: key differences

Domestic helper vs caregiver: key differences

Choose the right help in Singapore: domestic helper vs caregiver

13 Mar 2024
Domestic helper vs caregiver: key differences

Keeping a modern Singaporean household running smoothly is becoming an increasingly arduous task as people are spending more time out of the home — whether for work, socialising, or pursuing various activities that enrich their lives.

According to the Manpower Research and Statistics Department (MRSD), the usual hours worked per week for a worker in Singapore was 44.5 hours in 20231, translating to more than eight hours per workday. Hence, factoring in time for leisure and exercise after work, and finding the time (or energy) for household chores definitely becomes a challenge.

This is one of the main reasons for hiring a domestic helper (maid) or a caregiver today. However, before making this crucial decision that can significantly impact your household's well-being, it's essential to understand the key differences between these two types of professionals.

How does a domestic helper differ from a caregiver in Singapore?

In Singapore, domestic helpers and caregivers have distinctly different roles. While we’ll cover the key differences between them in the next section, it’s essential to grasp the fundamental responsibilities each professional carries:

  • Domestic helpers: Typically tasked with managing household chores like cleaning, cooking, laundry, shopping, errands, and sometimes even child or pet care.
  • Caregivers: Specialised in providing personal care and assistance to individuals with disabilities, chronic illnesses, or age-related needs, such as dementia or mobility issues.

These professionals can be engaged on a live-in or per-visit basis, and recruitment methods range from hiring agencies to online job platforms and word-of-mouth recommendations. Understanding the differences and financial aspects (covering costs, salaries, regulations, and insurance) will be crucial to making an informed choice between a domestic helper and a caregiver.

Key differences between domestic helpers and caregivers:

Navigating the decision between hiring a domestic helper (maid) or a caregiver involves understanding their primary distinctions. To illustrate the key differences, let’s compare the two roles:

Domestic Helper Caregiver

Household chores like cleaning, cooking, laundry, shopping, errands, etc.


Providing personal care and assistance to a person with a disability, chronic illness, or age-related needs.
Skills/Training Common skills like cleaning, cooking, laundry, and ironing. May have additional training depending on experience Specialised training in caregiving, CPR, first aid, and specific care methods depending on the individual's needs.
Experience May have experience in domestic work, but may not have experience in caregiving. May have experience in caregiving, either professionally or as a family caregiver.
Average Salary* S$6002 S$2,8713

* Salary estimates are indicative and can vary based on factors such as experience, expertise, live-in arrangements, and the maid's place of origin
* The average salary for caregivers refers to workers employed by agencies or healthcare organisations

Remember that hiring a maid in Singapore goes beyond just the salary that you need to pay. Consider monthly recurring costs like living expenses, maid levies, medical costs (including insurance), and potential agency fees. Expect to budget at least S$900 per month4 when you hire a maid in Singapore.

On the flip side, caregivers bring a unique level of compassion and empathy to their roles. Caring for individuals with disabilities, chronic illnesses, or age-related needs requires not only technical expertise but also a deep understanding of the emotional and physical challenges faced by those under their care. They often provide personalised attention that goes beyond routine tasks. While their average salary may seem high, many families find the emotional support and peace of mind provided by professional caregivers to be immeasurable.

Evaluating the needs of your household: Why do Singaporeans hire maids?

As you embark on this decision-making journey, an important step you need to take into account is the specific needs of your household. This involves thoughtful consideration of the various factors that will shape the type of assistance required. Here’s a quick guide to help you navigate this assessment:

  • Consider your household size: Evaluate the needs of your household – Larger families may benefit from domestic help or caregivers, but smaller families with demanding schedules might also find (extra) assistance helpful.
  • Assess specific care needs: If there are individuals with disabilities, chronic illnesses, or age-related concerns, a caregiver may be better suited to provide specialised assistance tailored to these requirements.
  • Evaluate work schedules: If you have a hectic schedule, hiring assistance, be it a domestic helper or caregiver, can significantly ease the burden of household chores or caregiving responsibilities.
  • Understand budget constraints: While domestic helpers may be more “budget-friendly”, caregivers offer specialised services that usually come with additional costs such as medication management and specialised equipment.
  • Consider the desired level of personalisation: Caregivers are more apt for a focused approach, especially for individuals with specific needs.
  • Take into account language and cultural compatibility: Effective communication is crucial for a harmonious working relationship with your helper or caregiver.

With a clear understanding of why Singaporeans choose to hire maids or caregivers, you're now ready to align your household's needs with their services. Here are some tips to find the perfect domestic helper/caregiver:

  1. Communicate your expectations and requirements during the hiring process in a clear manner.
  2. Seek candidates with relevant experience and training that match your household's specific needs.
  3. Consider trial periods or interviews to gauge compatibility before making a final decision.
  4. Regularly assess and communicate with your hired help to ensure ongoing alignment with your household's evolving needs.

By carefully evaluating your household's unique dynamics and aligning those needs with the services provided by domestic helpers or caregivers, you can make a decision that promotes a harmonious and supportive environment.

Find the perfect fit: Matching your household needs with the right help

Choosing the right help is a significant decision that impacts your household's well-being in numerous ways. While this article has provided valuable information to guide your initial steps, keep in mind that unforeseen circumstances can always arise.

A maid insurance plan provides comprehensive coverage for unexpected situations, from medical emergencies to repatriation costs, ensuring financial stability and minimising disruptions during challenging times.

Ultimately, with thoughtful consideration, careful evaluation, and the right support systems in place, you can confidently choose the helper who best complements your unique household dynamic and helps you achieve a more balanced and fulfilling life.

Empower yourself to create a secure and enriching home environment for everyone involved. Learn more about how a maid insurance can support your specific needs.


GREAT Maid Premier
GREAT Maid Premier

Running your day-to-day household and family needs can be hectic without the help from a domestic helper. You’ll want to ensure that she is well covered against any accidents and you are protected from your liability as her employer.

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