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

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.

The arrangment you put in place may or may not have a significant impact on the standard of care being delivered, but is likely to change the cost of care.

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’ll 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. Ultimately, you should consider yourself to have the same responsibilities as an employer – think holiday pay, sick pay and maternity cover.

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 elderly care or dementia care background checks for home carers.

If you’re 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 an introductory care agency such as Elder. We help families find their most suited self-employed home carer by using the latest matching technology and a team of care planning experts.

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.

Living with Live in Care: Dulcie's Story

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’s essential that you’re able to provide cover or have alternative arrangements if the carer is taken ill or unable to work. If you’re in the situation of requiring respite home care for a family member, we’re able to help – with care packages available for one week or more.


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’ll 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.

Call us for expert live-in care advice

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.

Home care: Frequently asked questions

Everyone’s individual situation is different which is why we undertake a comprehensive free care assessment for those who are considering home care as a care option for themselves or their loved ones. There are, however, certain questions which come up time and time again which is why we’ve created this frequently asked questions about home care page in order to give you the information you need to assess your options.

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Home care: how does it work?

Home care works in many different ways. Each person’s case is different with unique preferences, physical needs and life experiences, and care at home should be as tailored as possible to the individual’s requirements.

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Home care: How do I pay for It?

There are various ways of paying for home care and dementia care, but understanding the various options of care provision can seem very daunting at first.

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Home care: how to choose a care provider

Choosing which company to employ to provide care for yourself or a loved one is an important decision and you need to carry out some research beforehand.

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Home care: how to find a carer

People usually want to remain independent and in their own homes for as long as they can, but as they grow older there is often a need for some support with this.

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Home care: the questions you need to ask

If you are looking for in-home care for yourself or a relative, there are a number of important questions to ask potential providers of care at home before you make a decision about which one is most suitable for you or your loved one.

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Home care: what are the costs?

The costs of home care to an individual can vary widely and are dependent on many different factors. These include the type of care needed, how many hours a week you need a caregiver to be present, your own financial situation, where in the UK you live and whether you are eligible for any assistance with your care fees.

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