Live-in care – the questions you should ask

Written by Zenya Smith12/02/24


Live-in care

If you are looking into 24-hour care at home, you’ll likely want to carry out some research to help you make the right choice. Every family situation is different, and it’s important that the care provider and carer you choose aligns with your wishes and preferences.  Here are a few of the questions you should ask to help you find the right fit. 

What does live-in care entail?

Rather than several visits from home care assistants each day, you or your loved one would have a dedicated carer move in to provide support twenty-four hours a day, every day. This way you can enjoy independent living in your own home, but with the advantages of care on the spot whenever it is needed. Having a caregiver that you or your loved one can really get to know can make a real difference and provide much more stability and companionship in later life.

How long will the carer stay?

Building a relationship with a carer is important to many people, especially those who find change difficult. People needing dementia care particularly benefit from the stability provided by a familiar face, so it is important to find out how long a provider expects a live-in carer to stay with a care recipient.

Of course, live-in carers need time off and to accomodate this many care providers follow a  ‘rotation’ schedule. This schedule will outline how many weeks a carer will stay at a time, before taking a break week. during the break week you’ll need a respite carer to move in and take over care until the main carer returns. Some questions to ask here include – 

  1. What’s your rotation schedule? 
  2. Is the rotation schedule flexible, do we get to arrange with the carer how long they stay and when they’ll take their breaks? 
  3. Do rotations have to happen at set points, or can the length of time between them change depending on our care needs? 
  4. Does the family need to be there when a rotation happens? 
  5. Will you help us find a respite carer to step in? 
  6. Is there an additional charge for finding a respite carer? 


What happens when a caregiver is on holiday or sick leave?

Private care providers should be able to assure you that if your loved one’s regular carer is away for any reason, a suitable temporary replacement will be arranged.

How much notice do you need to arrange in-home care?

As providers like to match carers and care recipients carefully to ensure that they match well, the more notice you can give the better. However, the needs of elderly people can change very quickly, and you may need to arrange care at home urgently. Private live-in care providers should have carers ready to step in at short notice when they are really needed, within 24-48 hours. Questions to ask around this include –

  1. How long from the initial enquiry can care begin? 
  2. Can we get everything in place even if we don’r need care for a few weeks or months? 
  3. How does it work if my loved one is in hospital and their discharge date isn’t clear yet? 
  4. What checks or paperwork do we need to complete before care can start? 
  5. Do you need to arrange a home visit?
  6. Do we get to choose the carer, even if care is needed urgently? 
  7. Can we speak to or meet the carer beforehand? 
  8. Do we need to be there when the carer first arrives? 


How do you find carers?

Elderly care providers should ensure that the carers they employ are able to communicate clearly with the people they care for, so a good standard of spoken and written English is essential.

Pre-employment screening should include an enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check and two written references to ensure that the person is suitable for working with vulnerable adults. Previous experience will be taken into account, and care providers will arrange for any additional training that is needed before a live-in carer is placed with a care recipient. Questions to ask can include –

  1. Do all your carers have a clean, enhanced DBS (or PVG if they’re based in Scotland)?
  2. Do carers provide professional references? 
  3. What interview or screening questions do you ask carers? 
  4. Can we see feedback from other customers on individual carers? 
  5. Are there certain tasks a carer won’t be able to help with?  
  6. Can we request a carer who can drive as part of their role? 

Dulcie’s care story

Dulcie is one of our longest serving customers. In this video, she and her family talk through their decision to arrange care in the home rather than the care home.


How do you match a carer with a care recipient?

Care providers will look at aspects such as personality, interests and background when finding a carer for someone. It’s important that the mental and emotional wellbeing of the older person are discussed during the care assessment to assist with finding the best match. Real friendships often develop between the live-in carer and the care recipient, as they have many things in common. Questions to ask include – 

  1. How do you ensure the carer is a good fit?
  2. What happens if my loved one doesn’t get on with the carer? Can we choose a different one, and is there additional charges for this?

What food will the carer prepare?

Diet and nutrition are important in maintaining good health, so you need to be assured that the person providing live-in care at home for your loved one is able to prepare meals well and understands the nutritional needs of older people.

They will also ensure that an adequate fluid intake is maintained. The caregiver will also be happy to cook your loved one’s favourite dishes, which will be helpful in ensuring that they enjoy their food and eat well.

How is quality monitoring carried out?

It is important that the 24/7 care you pay for is of the highest quality, so you may like to ask potential care providers what monitoring systems they have in place. It is important that they are in regular contact with you, your loved one and the carer to ensure that everything is going well. Check that the provider has a number you can contact in an emergency at any time. If you have any concerns at all, your provider should be ready to address these immediately. Questions to ask include – 

  1. What phone number or email can I use to get in touch with you? 
  2. How do I stay in touch with the carer once they’ve started? 
  3. Can more than one family member manage the care relationship and stay in touch with you? 
  4. How do we stay involved with my loved one’s care and how are we informed about things?
  5. Do you have an internal clinical team who can support with care suitability and safeguarding? 
  6. Do the carers have access to free training platforms and career development? 


What will the carer need?

A live-in carer will need a room of their own, preferably with TV and an internet connection. Although they are there to provide round the clock care, they will need breaks and a certain amount of sleep. One of the advantages of having elderly care provided in the home is that the carer can be very flexible and arrange their times around your loved one’s needs. The carer will also need their basic food and drink and the use of a bathroom.

Does a live-in care service provide dementia care?

If your loved one is living with dementia, you will know that one of the hardest things for them to cope with is change. Staying in a familiar place with people they know around them can help someone with dementia to feel safe and less anxious.

Ask if the carers are trained in Alzheimer’s care, as this is important to ensure they understand the disease and how to communicate with your loved one. It is also very reassuring to know that a professional carer understands the wishes and needs of the care recipient.


Questions to ask potential carers 

It’s important whether you’re hiring a carer directly, or using an agency that you get the opportunity to speak to potential carers and ask them questions too. Here are some key one’s to get you started – 

  1. What made you want to become a carer?
  2. What do you enjoy most about caring? 
  3. What qualities do you think are most important in a carer? 
  4. What training or certification do you have? 
  5. What conditions do you have experience caring for? 
  6. What environments have you provided care in? 
  7. How do you form a good relationship with the person you’re caring for? 
  8. How do you promote independence?
  9. How do you protect a person’s dignity? 
  10. How do you communicate with the family? 
  11. How would you deal with an emergency? 
  12. How would you deal with a difficult or stressful situation? 
  13. Is there anything you’d like to ask me? 

Call us to discuss how live-in care could work for you.

0333 920 3648


Learn more about live-in care

Take a look at more Elder guides on the benefits of live-in care. 

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