Three Things to Know About Tipping a Home Health Care Provider

Whether you have a home health care provider who gives you some assistance or you've arranged for this health professional to help an elderly member of your family, you know the value that this person brings. While politely accepting the provider's help and expressing your gratitude verbally never goes out of style, it's also beneficial to think about tipping as an extra way to say "thank you." If you've recently enlisted the help of a home health care provider, it's important to understand the typical tipping protocol, especially with the holidays just around the corner. Here are three things that you should know.

Check With the Agency First

Home health care agencies typically have clear policies when it comes to tipping their in-home providers. Before you begin to think about how much you might wish to tip your provider, it's proper etiquette to give a quick call to the agency to determine if it views tipping as appropriate. Don't be embarrassed about asking -- it's far better to know the answer in advance than deal with a potentially uncomfortable situation later on. For example, you don't want to give a tip if the provider can't accept it. If the agency prohibits tips, think about writing a thoughtful note of thanks for the provider and also sending a similar message to his or her boss.

Tipping Around the Holidays is Conventional

Unlike tipping a restaurant server or hairdresser, it's not typically conventional to tip a home health care provider after each visit. Instead, many people choose to tip around the holidays as a way of expressing thanks for the care provided throughout the year. The Emily Post Institute, which is a leading authority on matter related to tipping and etiquette, suggests giving a gift to your home health care provider instead of a cash tip. The gift can be generic, such as a gift card to a restaurant, or something related to the person's interests, if you've come to know him or her well enough.

Consider Tipping During Unusual Circumstances

Tipping the home health care provider at times other than the holidays can be appropriate when you feel the person has gone above and beyond the call of duty. This could mean the person has worked a double shift during a time in which you or your elderly family member was in need. Because there are no firm rules about tipping in this situation, it's acceptable to give what you feel comfortable giving. Instead of just handing over some cash, consider enclosing it in a note of thanks.

If you have any questions about tipping and gift giving for a home health care provider, contact a local agency, such as United Senior Services, to learn more.