While “appreciation days” like Secretary's Day (and especially “Boss’s Day”) tend to make many folks in the workforce roll their eyes and avoid the breakroom at all costs lest they find themselves roped into a half-hearted round of applause in front of a tray of employer-provided cupcakes, there’s of course nothing wrong with companies telling their employees how much they value their hard work and commitment to excellence.
In the case of Caregiver Appreciation Day, the desire to provide recognition to the individuals who provide care services to the chronically ill, the elderly, and those in need of temporary care (the vast majority of whom identify as female) feels especially worthy of a small annual celebration, considering the personal, high-stakes labor invested by these compassionate professionals.
Hiring an outside party to provide care to your loved one presents its own unique sets of challenges and potential sources of discomfort, so if you’re working with a caregiver who goes above and beyond and delivers exceptional service on a regular basis, it’s well worth your while to make sure she knows how much her dedication means to you and your family.
When is it?
Unlike formal holidays like Christmas and New Year’s Day, Caregiver Appreciation Day doesn’t fall on the same day each year.
And, in fact, different organizations and employers have identified their own times to celebrate the occasion, resulting in nearly half-a-dozen Caregiver Appreciation Day options on the calendar on any given year. However, the festive-calendar experts at Holiday Insights note that National Caregiver Appreciation Month happens during November, and they therefore accept the popular November 13 choice as the correct pick for Caregiver Appreciation Day.
So who exactly should you celebrate on Caregiver Appreciation Day, and how can you show the caregivers in your life how important they are to you, your family, and the subject of their care? Don't worry — we've got you covered with details about the day and concrete ways to show your gratitude.
Who should you celebrate on this day?
Caregiver Appreciation Day is intended to celebrate the people in our lives who help us maintain the health and wellbeing of our loved ones who contend with illnesses, age-related complications, pregnancies, and other health-related situations that require regular assistance.
What is the definition of a “caregiver”?
The most obvious candidates for a Caregiver Appreciation Day celebration include paid employees who engage in this type of work, such as home health aides, nursing home attendants, counselors, doulas, and respite nurses. However, volunteers who choose to offer their time to helping others should also receive recognition for their (largely selfless) efforts. Meals on Wheels representatives, family members who care for elderly or ill relatives, and students who visit senior living facilities to provide companionship for residents all perform invaluable tasks and should enjoy acknowledgment, both on Caregiver Appreciation Day and throughout the year.
8 Ideas For How To Celebrate
Caregiver Appreciation Day can certainly be acknowledged with a card and a tray of baked goods, but if you’d like to offer the caregivers in your life a reward with longer-lasting benefits, consider these ideas:
First and foremost, use Caregiver Appreciation Day as an opportunity to review the compensation packages offered to the paid caregivers in your life. If you privately hire a nurse to care for your elderly relative, research market rate pay structures for that role and ensure that you’re paying these committed professionals what they deserve.
If the caregiver in question works for an outside organization (like a nursing company or a hospital) and you’re not sure how to find out what they earn, you can still advocate for them and their compensation. Write a letter or an email to the nursing supervisor or hospital administrator expressing your gratitude for your caregiver, and be specific about her accomplishments and how they’ve changed your loved one’s life for the better. Informal endorsements like these (as opposed to regularly-scheduled performance reviews) reflect well on the caregivers when they’re up for raises or promotions in the future.
Remember that fair pay should also include a fair amount of paid time off. If possible, consider offering your caregiver an extra day off — if not on Caregiver Appreciation Day, then sometime around it (or line it up for a time when you know she’ll particularly value more personal days).
Make a donation to a non-profit organization that promotes the fair treatment of caregivers, like Caregiver Action Network.
In lieu of flowers, give your caregiver a token of appreciation that allows her to practice a bit of self-care. A spa gift certificate, a series of yoga classes, or a mani-pedi appointment are all excellent options, depending on your caregiver’s particular tastes.
If the care recipient is able, ask him or her to participate in your caregiver appreciation efforts. If the recipient is a child with an artistic streak, have her make her own card. If he has a way with words, suggest that he write the caregiver a letter expressing his gratitude for her efforts.
If the caregiver tends to your loved one within his or her home (or within your home) and you notice that she’s been taking on housekeeping tasks in addition to her care-related work, do what you can to mitigate that pressure (assuming that’s not a condition of her employment agreement). Hire a TaskRabbit to tidy up the house before the caregiver shift begins, or roll up your sleeves and finish some chores yourself to lessen the caregiver’s load on Caregiver Appreciation Day.
Look into the records of local and national politicians and find out who supports paid leave and strong benefits for caregivers and other support-oriented employees, many of whom are paid hourly and aren’t automatically eligible for the perks offered to full-time, salaried workers. When selecting which candidates will get your vote on Election Day, add fair treatment of these workers to your list of priorities.