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Home Care: What's the best way to hire a carer?

If your loved one or relative needs help and assistance, a home carer can provide a range of help and support including companion care, personal care including washing, dressing, help with going to the bathroom, assisting with medication, shopping, preparing meals and driving or helping with getting out and about. The amount and level of care can vary; some care recipients may only need a few hours a week; some may need several hours every day or night; and others may need live-in care.

There are a number of ways in which you can hire a home carer. You can use a specialist such as Elder to provide your loved one with a carefully vetted and matched carer, or you can employ a carer directly. You will no doubt want to consider all options when making the decision in order to find the most suitable solution for you and your loved one.

Employing directly

Employing a home carer directly can be cheaper than through an agency, which many see as the main benefit. By paying the carer directly, you can often pay less per hour than you would pay through an agency.

By employing a carer directly, it is also possible to ensure that you have control and choice too; you will be able to choose who you employ so you can be assured that all involved are happy and comfortable with the carer. However, there are important considerations and responsibilities in employing directly, and many people prefer not to take on this level of management and liability.

Finding a carer

If you are employing a carer directly, you are responsible for the entire process, commencing with finding the carer. It will be necessary to advertise the post, conduct interviews and carry out relevant reference, legal and security checks. This can be a long and time-consuming process and one that takes considerable research, thought and effort.

Once you have a carer lined up, it is important to note that you or your loved one will be an employer and will have legal and financial responsibilities. It is your responsibility to provide a contract which is a written statement of employment detailing the tasks, place of work, the hours, times, pay and holiday entitlement.

It is your responsibility to ensure that any person you employ is legally able to work in the UK. They must show a passport, other valid identification or a valid visa to work in the UK.

You will need to obtain a copy of the relevant criminal security check for anyone you are looking to employ to care for your loved one. This is a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, or in Scotland, a Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) check.

There are several levels of checks, a DBS can be basic, standard or enhanced. These security checks are designed to protect vulnerable groups, including the elderly. Undertaking a DBS or PVG check provides peace of mind that they are ‘of good character’ and can be trusted to provide elderly care or dementia care. If you are hiring a carer directly it is vital that you obtain a valid DBS / PVG check before you let them into your home or your loved one’s home. Since your loved one is in a vulnerable group, you will require the enhanced check which is the more stringent of the levels.

It may be beneficial to use a specialist such as Elder who can carry out these processes for you, this will, of course, add to the costs to a modest degree, but it can provide peace of mind and reduce the amount of work and hassle.

Dulcie’s story

Dulcie is one of our longest serving customers. In this short video, she talks through the reasons behind her, and her family’s decision to choose full-time home care rather than the care home.

Arranging cover

Your carer will be entitled to breaks, sick pay (in most cases) and holiday pay. You will need to keep in mind that you will need to pay for these and you will need to find replacement cover. If your loved one or relative relies on care at home, it is essential that you are able to provide cover or have alternative arrangements if the carer is taken ill or unable to work.

Insurances

As an employer, you must ensure you are covered by correct insurance policies. You will need to have employer’s liability insurance and public liability insurance in place. These policies will vary in coverage so you need to ensure that you have an appropriate policy. Annual premiums are typically in the range of around £100.

Taxes and pay

You must pay the carer at least the national minimum wage. This varies according to age so you would be responsible for paying the correct amount. Realistically, you are likely to need to pay more than the national minimum wage, £10+ per hour is more realistic and it may be significantly higher if your loved one or relative has complex needs. You will also be responsible for deducting tax and National Insurance payments and you may be liable to pay employers National Insurance contributions.

Using a specialist

Many people choose to use a home care agency because it reduces the administrative burden and can provide coverage when the primary carer is unavailable. This is the main advantage of using a specialist such as Elder, who is experienced in every aspect of the hiring and on-going management processes, and in handling the inevitable administrative burden that ensures. All of our carers are carefully selected and thoroughly vetted, including enhanced DBS or PVG checks.

Using an agency to provide care for your loved one may initially appear slightly more expensive, if you pay per hour you are likely to be paying a higher hourly rate than you would pay a carer directly. However, it is worth keeping in mind that you will not have the additional costs of separate recruitment advertising, legal advice for the formation of contracts and so forth. Whilst every firm has overheads, there are also some economies of scale, ensuring the best possible value for clients.

Not all agencies are equal and you may have less control than you would like with some of them. Different agencies will have different arrangements, and it may not always be the same person providing the care. Continuity of care is important to care recipients and their families and Elder live-in care services are designed with this in mind. Moreover, our professional carers are carefully matched to recipients so your loved one can feel comfortable with their caregiver.

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