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What is an introductory care agency?

When it comes to finding a carer for your elderly loved one, there are several options available. There is no one-size-fits-all solution; personal circumstances and needs can vary widely. Bringing a carer into your loved one’s home requires careful consideration as to who you select.

The options for employing an elderly care worker

When deciding on a home caregiver, you have three principal options. The options are a managed care agency, an introductory care agency, or going it alone. There are pros and cons for each option, and several factors will govern your decision. Some of these factors include whether or not your loved one has family living close at hand, their financial circumstances and their overall health. Caregivers sourced provide everything from companion care through to advanced dementia care. It’s essential to find a solution that suits your loved one’s circumstances.

Going it alone

It’s advisable to be cautious if you intend to undertake the entire recruitment process yourself. Be sure potential candidates have a DBS check carried out (formerly known as CRB checks), and check all references thoroughly. The whole process can be time-consuming and costly, which could leave your loved one without any help or assistance for several days, if not weeks.

Managed care agencies

With a managed care agency, you receive the full package, with the agency taking care of every aspect of your loved one’s care. What this means is that you don’t have to worry about checking references, requesting criminal background checks or drawing up contracts of employment. In this instance, your agreement is with the agency itself, rather than a contract with the individual caregiver. All responsibility is removed from your shoulders, leaving you secure in the knowledge that your loved one is well supported and cared for.

Of course, the agency will strive to provide a carer who fits in with your relative’s lifestyle and ideology, insofar as possible. Some agencies will go that extra mile to make sure that the carer also shares similar hobbies and interests as your loved one. But ultimately, the caregiver is chosen by the agency. If your loved one’s regular caregiver is unable to attend for any reason, the agency will ensure another carer is immediately available. Clients who live far away from their elderly loved one or are otherwise unable to undertake the necessary duties themselves will have great peace of mind.

A managed care agency will undertake all payments to the caregiver, taking care of tax, National Insurance and holiday and sick pay too. Your responsibility will be to pay the care agency a fee. And this is where the downside lies: this could be considerably higher than choosing to employ a carer through an introductory care agency.

Colin and Dulcie’s story

Dulcie is 102-years-old and lives with her son Colin, his wife Mary, and her Carer Sarah. She has dementia and has had full-time live-in care for over two years.

We talk to the family about the challenges of finding the right care solution for a fiercely independent woman - and how the positive benefits of live-in care with Sarah has transformed all of their lives.

Introductory care agencies

If you’re nervous about going it alone, an introductory care agency could be a great solution. This method enables you to find the care at home that your elderly loved one needs, at a more affordable price, without taking up all of your time and resources in the process.

An introductory care agency such as Elder undertakes many of the tasks that a managed care agency does. The agency will interview the candidates on their books, take up references, DBS and background checks. Many agencies will also offer in-house training too, to ensure that carers’ skills are up to speed. In this respect, there is no difference between the managed care agency and the introductory care agency.

However, there is one crucial difference in the service provided by the introductory care agency. Rather than paying the agency, as you would with a managed care agency, in this instance, your contract is with the caregiver. Carers registered with an introductory care agency usually take care of their own tax affairs. This means they are registering as self-employed, so you won’t have to liaise with the tax office or worry about holiday pay and sick pay. However, essentially, you will be the caregiver’s employer, rather than the agency taking charge. This requires more admin to undertake, although considerably less than if you choose to go it alone.

A further benefit of an introductory agency is that someone is always on hand to deal with any questions or problems that you might have. If your chosen caregiver is ill, for example, the agency will be well-positioned to provide an alternative carer. This is particularly important if your loved one needs a high level of one-to-one care throughout every day and night.

For many families, an introductory care agency is a perfect solution for their loved one’s care needs. Less expensive than fully managed care, it gives a high degree of control over the person employed, without many of the associated problems, such as checking the employee’s background history and providing training. And there’s someone on hand to turn to in the case of any issues.

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