A live-in caretaker is someone who lives in the same home as a person who has special assistance needs for daily living, such as the disabled, elderly, or people recovering from debilitating injuries and illnesses. While most live-in caretakers share the home of the individual for whom they care, they may also reside in care facilities that otherwise have limited staff for taking care of individual needs. Home caregivers perform tasks like housekeeping duties, cooking, and assisting their clients with mobility requirements such as assisting them out of beds and wheelchairs or into the seat of vehicles so they can go shopping and perform other routine tasks. The job of a home caretaker can often be confused with a property caretaker, but the latter instead cares for the needs of a building and its residents, including duties like maintenance, landscaping, and basic repairs of plumbing and other mechanical systems.
The live-in caretaker career can be a demanding one, as the individual is often thought of as a personal care aid whose role becomes that of an advisory and socializing one to that of the client, as well as being responsible for household duties. This is because the live-in caretaker often represents the on-site presence of both their employer and any government agencies that perform oversight of vulnerable populations. This can mean that a live-in caretaker has unofficial duties, such as educating his or her client on what constitutes healthy meals and a safe home environment. These unofficial roles for the live-in caretaker may involve becoming an advocate for changes in the home that the client is uncomfortable making. Due to the complex interpersonal roles that a live-in caretaker must fill, the job is often best-suited to individuals who are naturally compassionate, patient, and who find it easy to make friends with their clients and act as their advocates in interaction with authorities and the employer.
Other duties that may be required of a live-in caretaker include communicating with the client's family on his or her behalf and performing basic health care and hygiene for the client, which can involve monitoring vital signs and making sure that medication is taken at the appropriate time. The caretaker may also assist in completing correspondence for the client and helping him or her with a budget as requested, and may be a source of transportation to doctor's appointments or social gatherings. Interaction with the client's family may also involve training them in proper care procedures, as the live-in caretaker may only be serving in a transitional role until the family can take over complete care for the client.
Live-in caretakers typically work full-time in the home and arrange their schedule so that they sleep at the same general time as the client. The caregiver does not become a permanent resident of the home, however, and only takes with him or her the basic clothing and personal items needed to perform day-to-day duties. He or she is then given time off each week that goes beyond the full-time schedule, and is replaced by fill-in caregivers during that time. While the job of a live-in caretaker can be challenging, if the relationship is a positive one between caregiver and client, it can also be personally rewarding and fulfilling.