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Case Study

Skilled care vs. custodial care for the elderly: What's the difference?

Updated: Jul 17, 2023

A brief guide to two different types of caregivers for the elderly.


If you’re entering the world of elder care for the first time, you may be hearing a lot of buzzwords and terminology that you don’t understand. There’s a lot of fresh vocabulary to learn, and Caresultants is here to help.


Today, we’re breaking down a pair of nuanced terms that often go hand-in-hand: “custodial care” and “skilled care.” These terms refer to different types of care that an elderly person may receive at home or at an elder care facility.


What is skilled care for the elderly?

In simple terms, skilled care is medical care—and medically necessary. This type of care is administered by a medical professional, such as a physical therapist or a nurse, based on orders from a doctor.


Many types of care can fall under the umbrella of skilled care. This may include:

  • Administration and management of IVs, catheters, and other medical devices.

  • Care and dressing of wounds from accidents or procedures.

  • Medications.

  • Physical therapy.

  • Speech therapy.

An elderly person can receive skilled care at home or at an elder care facility.


It’s worth noting that doctors do not fall under the umbrella of “skilled care.” While doctors do provide medical care, they are not “caregivers.”


What is custodial care for the elderly?

Custodial care is non-medical care that supports daily living and wellbeing. Custodial caregivers do not need medical licenses; most of their training is done on-the-job.


Custodial caregivers can help with a wide range of tasks and activities. This may include:

  • Getting dressed and undressed.

  • Using the bathroom and bathing.

  • Eating.

  • Moving around their living quarters or going on errands.

  • Very basic medical care, such as administering eye drops.

  • Household chores, such as meal prep, laundry, and cleaning.

The exact duties of a custodial caregiver can vary, depending on the terms of their employment and the needs of the elderly person. Some agencies assign household chores and personal care to different types of employees, and some individuals simply don’t offer certain services. If an elderly person has family nearby, the family members may handle some elements of care themselves. Every custodial care situation and relationship will look a little different.


Like skilled care, custodial care can be provided at an elder care facility or at home.


Managing a team of skilled and custodial caregivers.

Many elderly people rely on multiple caregivers for daily support, medical care, and more. If you have an elderly loved one, you may find yourself coordinating a growing team of nurses, personal caregivers, companions, and more. Managing even a small team can be very overwhelming, especially if you’re also balancing a job, a family, and other obligations. And as your loved one’s needs become more complex, so does the task of managing their caregivers.


CARESULTANTS can relieve your overwhelm by taking over the management of your loved one’s care team. We can:

  • Conduct interviews and hire the right caregiver based on your loved one’s needs, schedule, and personality.

  • Coordinate schedules and handle back-up care for time off.

  • Deal with personnel issues, such as tardiness or absenteeism.

  • Check in regularly to ensure that each caregiver is still the right fit for our loved one.

With CARESULTANTS handling everything, you can say goodbye to any anxiety you might feel over finding the right person. You can trust us to make decisions based on what’s best for your loved one and your family and tell you the truth if we think something needs to change.

To learn more about our approach to managing caregivers, schedule a schedule a 15-minute call

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