Tag Archives: in-home care

Differences Between a Nanny and an Au Pair

Drawing together

This is probably the most common question we get from families who are interested hiring a caregiver for their children through our agency.

While there may be a general consensus (at least in Canada, where we are based) of what a nanny is and what her job entails, the notion of what an au pair is and should be is significantly less understood, which is why we tried to address that in one of our recent posts.

Unfortunately for some au pairs or other types of caregivers, a misunderstanding or miscommunication of exactly what their job entails can lead to a feeling of sourness or negativity for a large part of their placement. In fact, just as the question of the difference between nannies and au pairs is the most frequently asked question here at International Nannies, so too is the confusion between these two positions the most common cause of discord in these types of caregiver placements.

Woman having a conversation with her therapist on couch in office

That’s why it is our goal in this post to clear up this confusion in the hopes that it doesn’t occur in your placement.

Whether you are an interested host family or a prospective caregiver candidate, all we want here at International Nannies is for you to have a successful placement. There are such valuable experiences to be gained from cultural exchanges like these, which is why we will do our utmost to ensure that this can happen for you in the most positive and stress-free way possible.

Young asian woman with cute caucasian toddler boy1. How many hours are nannies and au pairs expected to work?

This is one of the first questions we ask interested host families when it comes to determining whether a nanny or an au pair is right for them.

In Canada, in general, while both nannies and au pairs can work full-time (which is 40-44 hours depending on the province), nannies tend to work almost exclusively full-time while au pairs are flexible to work either part-time (approximately 20-25 hours) or full-time.

2. How much does it cost to hire a nanny versus an au pair?

To hire a nanny in Canada, the host family must effectively sponsor their nanny’s trip to and life in Canada, from their visa paperwork and travel expenses to their healthcare and room and board.

The process of hiring an au pair is much cheaper; the host family only pays for the matching process that our agency undertakes. The au pair pays for their own flight and the Working Holiday Visa they must obtain to be an au pair requires them to undergo a medical exam, obtain a police clearance, and demonstrate proof of healthcare coverage.

In addition, host families who are looking to hire an au pair have the option of deducting a small sum for room and board from their au pair’s minimum wage pay; to find out more about room and board deductions and au pair pay stubs, you can refer to our Au Pair Brochure which is available for download on our website.

Baby

3. How long does the hiring and matching process take?

For nannies, the process is a lot longer, due mostly to the extensive paperwork involved. Daunting as it might seem at first, another service we provide is the completion of the Labour Market Impact Assessment required to hire a nanny in Canada, which can save you loads of time!

The process of hiring an au pair, on the other hand, usually takes only between 5-16 weeks.

During our high season, we can receive up to several au pair applications per day, which is part of the reason why it is much easier and much faster to hire an au pair. That being said, we always recommend that our host families start the application process as soon as possible in order to ensure that they are able to hire an au pair to start on their desired start date.

Charming woman doing the housework

4. Do nannies and au pairs provide housekeeping?

This is the factor that people tend to be most confused about. As mentioned above, nannies almost exclusively work full-time, and a large part of that full-time work involves general housekeeping.

An au pair, on the other hand, as is common practice in the international au pair industry, is only expected to perform housekeeping duties that are directly related to the care of the children. This includes cleaning up after the children, preparing their meals, and helping with their laundry and general upkeep of their rooms and play areas.

If your family requires any more housekeeping than that, an au pair is probably not the best option for you, and a nanny might be a better option (or, as an alternative, an au pair or part-time babysitter in conjunction with another person in a general housekeeping role).

At International Nannies, we do our best to make this particular distinction as clear as we can for both our au pair applicants and our interested host families.

However, at the end of the day, if there is any confusion between a host family and their au pair, we always encourage that both parties establish clear and open lines of communication from the beginning of the placement in order to avoid further conflict in the future.

Babysitter

Spending the Holidays with Your Au Pair

The holiday season is a great time of year where we can enjoy family time, celebrate the season of giving and eat way too much pie without feeling guilty. This year will be even more special for you as your Au Pair may be celebrating her first Christmas in North America! Throughout our experiences in the Au Pair industry, we have come up with a couple of tips to help you get through the holidays relaxed, stress-free and all with a cup full of cheer!

Talk About Holiday Schedules Earlystockings

Your schedule may be filling up quickly due to another work party, school Christmas concerts or skating with the grandparents. We ask that you be mindful of your Au Pair as her schedule may be filling up just as quickly. She may even have plans to go down to Hawaii to celebrate Christmas on the beach. You won’t know what her plans are until you ask, and it’s never too early to plan out the holidays. So pull out the family calendar and, over a cup of tea, go through each day of the holidays. You will both need to be flexible during this time of year to accommodate each other’s needs. Your Au Pair should understand that their job comes first but in the spirit of the holidays, and to make your placement successful, you may need to work together to find a compromise so that both of you have an enjoyable holiday.

Christmas OrnamentInclude Your Au Pair in Your Own Traditions  

The holidays may be a tough time for your Au Pair as this may be her first time away from her family for Christmas. It’s always best to go into these scenarios with the mindset of, “If she can’t be with her own family, then she can be with her Canadian family.” Invite her to join in on your traditional Christmas morning skate or if you’re sending out a Christmas card, include her into the picture. Fill a stocking for her to make her feel included or get her to write a letter to Santa with the kids. Anything to make her feel at home and that she is wanted in your family.

Help Your Au Pair Adjust to the ClimateLetitia mitten

Holiday seasons are usually followed by harsh Canadian winters. Help your Au Pair adjust to the changes in the weather by getting her prepared. She may be use to having a warm, sunny holiday where she can open presents on the beach. If this is the case, go shopping with her to get her proper winter attire: scarf, winter mittens and a proper Canadian toque! This is when we need to remember the old Scandinavian saying, “there is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”

Follow Some of her TraditionsGingerbread Man

This is also a great opportunity for you to learn about how other cultures celebrate the holiday season. Ask your Au Pair about some traditions that her and her family have. Try to include them into your holiday season as well! Ask her lots of questions about how she celebrates the holidays, any special songs she likes to sing, any traditional meals she likes to make. This will make her feel more welcomed and perhaps you can get a sweet treat in the process!

Best Childcare Option for your Family: Nanny or Au Pair?

Child Care ConceptWhat is the best in-home care option for your family?

A Nanny or an Au Pair?

Locally based childcare in Canada is extremely difficult to find and consequently many parents choose to hire an applicant from overseas through the In-Home Caregiver Program. This is a temporary foreign worker program which enables families to hire a nanny for their children, or a caregiver for their elderly or disabled relatives.

In order to qualify, nannies must have obtained at least one full year of work experience or completed a full-time six month long caregiving course. There is no age limit for nanny applicants but the majority fall between 25-45 years of age. Though their duties are predominantly childcare, a live-in nanny can also perform light housekeeping and , meal preparation for the family.

In turn, the family must be able to offer their nanny applicant a full-time, long-term employment. The nanny may live in the home with the family but room and board must be free of charge. It also helps the nanny who can learn from the family and settle into living and working in Canada since typically this will be her first time in the country.  

The employer when hiring an overseas nanny must pay for her travel costs, including airfare, but many families use their travel points to fly their nanny to Canada.  Depending on the province in which they are based, the family may also be required to  pay for her to be covered for temporary private health insurance if she is not immediately eligible on her arrival to apply for provincial health insurance coverage.

Depending on province, a full-time live in nanny starts at $ 395 – 450 per week.

Hiring someone through the In-Home Caregiver Program can be extremely successful and many parents gain a long term, consistent and reliable live-in or live-out nanny, someone they and their children have grown over time to know and trust. In-Home nannies provide great flexibility right in your home and provide that extra pair of hands for busy families.

However there is a lengthy wait for a nanny’s arrival, often taking about six months for all the paperwork to be processed.

If a family is planning to go the overseas nanny route, PLAN AHEAD !!

And because the nanny’s employment is required to be full-time, it is not a program that is suited to the needs of all families.

This is one of the reasons why a growing number of parents are choosing to hire an Au Pair. An Au Pair is someone who is also based overseas and looking for a childcare position with a Canadian family, but is typically younger (18-27) with less professional work experience, and interested as much in the cultural benefits of their stay. They too live in their employers’ home and learn about the Canadian way of life, but also take an active part in family life; becoming a big sister to the children they are caring for. Childcare makes up the majority of their duties and while they may do some tidying of the home and laundry, this is only as it relates to the children i.e. tidying the children’s toys, washing the children’s clothing etc. Au Pairs also typically hold full drivers licences and are thus able to drive the children to and from school and other activities if required by the family.

Au Pairs obtain a work permit through the International Experience Canada (IEC) program, which allows them to live and work in the country for a maximum of one year usually. The application process is expeditious, taking approximately 8-12 weeks. And because a job offer isn’t required prior to applying, many Au Pairs will have obtained their Visa even before interviewing with families so can travel to Canada as soon as they have found the perfect family to work for. For parents, the process of hiring an Au Pair is extremely simple as the Au Pair herself is responsible for purchasing her own airfare and temporary travel insurance for the duration of her stay. Au Pairs are not required to work a certain number of hours so they can be flexible, working full or part time as their host family requires.

Because they lack the professional work experience of a nanny, Au Pairs are not usually suitable for taking care of newborn and very young babies. However for toddlers and older children they can be great role models, introducing your family to another culture and even another language. While some families hire an Au Pair to cover their childcare needs for a full twelve months, others may only be needed during the school year or even while a family is waiting for their live-in nanny’s application to be approved.  Whatever the situation, Au Pairs make a great immediate and temporary childcare solution for some, while for other families a live-in nanny provides that consistent, long-term childcare they require.   

 

Manuela Gruber Hersch is the owner of International Nannies & Homecare Ltd.(www.internationalnannies.com ) and also a founding director of ACNA Canada ( Association of Caregiver & Nanny Agencies Canada). She also came to Canada as an overseas live in nanny and employs a live in nanny for her two children.

Solving the problem of Canada’s aging population

Canada is becoming an increasingly elderly population. It is estimated that by 2036, the number of Canadians aged 65 or older will nearly double; making up 25% of the total population. This is expected to place an increased financial burden not only on Canada’s health care system but also on the home care industry, which is already struggling to accommodate an increasing number of people.

Many elderly people will reach a point where they require an extra level of assistance on a day to day basis. Sometimes this can be instigated by an accident or a prolonged illness, and sometimes it is just that they have become frailer with age. And with the increasing demands of everyday life it is often not possible for family and friends to provide the kind of full-time companionship an elderly person living alone may need.

The Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) is one solution, allowing an elderly person or persons to remain safely in their home with companionship and care. Live-in caregivers work full-time hours and reside in their employer’s home. They provide assistance with mobility, personal care, medication reminders, run errands and perform light housekeeping.

The cost of a live-in caregiver’s wages can be offset in part by the room and board an employer will be paid by them in turn, so a live-in caregiver is designed to be a financially viable option for families. Over a long term, a live-in caregiver is also a much less expensive option than prolonged hospital stays or a permanent move to an elderly care facility. Economically it is in the country’s best interests to support in-home care for senior citizens.

The LCP is also beneficial to the live-in caregiver (a temporary foreign worker) who, through living in their Canadian employer’s home, is able to become settled here much faster and grow accustomed to the Canadian way of life. It is a program that works extremely well to integrate foreign workers to the country.

Our senior citizens’ current dependence on elderly care facilities demonstrates that they, and their families, are willing to invest in good, long term care. In turn, we should make sure that the LCP is a viable and timely option for Canadian families.