Thinking about hiring your own paid carer? Here’s what you need to know

Published: 22/05/2019

Premium homecare doesn't come cheap. So doesn't it make sense to hire your own paid carer? Here's what you need to know before you go it alone.   

There’s no point beating about the bush. Premium homecare like ours doesn’t come cheap. (It takes huge investment on our part to make it happen.) That’s why some people think about hiring their own paid carer.
Surely going direct is a great way to save money and take full control of your own care? It’s straightforward isn’t it?
The answer is no, it isn’t. The moment you take on a carer directly you become an employer. Don’t fool yourself this is an informal arrangement that falls under the radar of the authorities.
You are, of course, free to take on your own carer - but as an employer you’ll be legally obliged to meet all the expenses and responsibilities that go with that. Employment law – complex and continually changing - is one area you’ll need to get to grips with.
Hiring your own carer is a serious business. Getting it wrong can be disastrous. You may pay the price of falling foul of the law. You may risk being sued. Even worse, you may find yourself at the mercy of someone who isn’t all they seem.
Before you commit to going direct, make sure you know what’s involved.
Find your carer
Step one is to write and place an advertisement for the position. You’ll need to know how much you can pay. Bear in mind experienced care assistants will command higher rates.
Next step is to interview applicants and find out in detail about their backgrounds and previous employment records. You won’t have access to our advanced recruiting and screening processes - including proven psychometric testing procedures – so you’ll have to rely on your own judgment and evaluate applicants carefully.
Make background checks
When you’ve made your choice, the next step is full background checks. This means asking for references from a carer’s previous employers. You’ll want to double-check these for authenticity.
You also need to check if the person you’re inviting in to your home has any criminal convictions or is on any barred list. To do this, you’ll need to apply and pay for a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS, formerly CRB) report and perhaps also an Adult First check
Write an employment contract
Before your carer starts to work for you, you’re obliged by law to write a full employment contract for them. This needs to set out all their key duties, statutory rights, working hours, rates of pay and notice periods amongst other information. It’s important you make this document very detailed so you and your carer know exactly what to expect from one another.
It’s also important to update this contract whenever the law changes. Staying up to date with the continual changes in employment law is another area of your responsibility as an employer.
Get insured
You’ll need to be fully insured and have Employer’s Liability Insurance before your care starts. It’s best to find an insurance company that specialises in the care sector and can advise you on how to cover yourself should things go wrong.
Calculate your payment obligations
By law you must pay your carer at least the Minimum Wage. You’ll also have to give them holiday pay, sick pay and parental leave pay. Sick pay entitlement is for up to 26 weeks so you need to factor this in – plus the additional pay and costs of a replacement carer while your carer is ill.
It’s important to recognise that the best carers expect more than minimum wages. We pay our carers significantly above the minimum wage and give them comprehensive additional benefits including car breakdown cover and a health cash plan.
Plan for carer absences
It’s up to you to find alternative cover when your carer is ill or away on holiday. Make sure you have a back up plan if your carer is unavailable for any reason. Last minute unavailability is harder to plan for when you hire your carer direct and needs careful thought.
Arrange payments and reductions
You’ll need to register as an employer with HMRC in order to pay your carer. Additional new rules cover hiring a carer so make sure you understand these. You’ll need to sort out your carer’s payroll, payments to HMRC and issue them with P60s, P45s and P111Ds.
Perform a risk assessment
If your carer has an accident in your home, they can make a claim against you. It’s your responsibility to make sure your carer has a safe working environment so take a look around your house for potential hazards. If your carer has to use any personal protective equipment, check out all the regulations that apply around these.
Update your carer’s training
A carer is only allowed to do their job if their training is up to date and compliant. This is an additional expense you need to add in. You’ll also need to pay your carer whilst they are training.
Depending on what your carer does in your home, areas like moving and handling and medication administration need to be covered if you are to stay the right side of the law.
Our training programmes are extensive and on-going and we’re continually training our team in the techniques that represent latest best practice across all areas of homecare. We also pay our carers extra money for the time they take off to study for their Care Certificate.
We also continuously spot-check our carers to assess their performance and measure their customer’s progress. Here you will have to rely on your own judgment again so it’s important you remain vigilant and respond to any failures on the part of your carer. You’ll have to deal with these issues yourself so make sure you are willing to take on the role of boss as well the person receiving care. It can be a difficult balancing act for people who employ their carer direct.
Keep detailed records
This is another essential task. You must keep detailed records of your carer’s information listing tax and National Insurance information, hours worked each week, holidays taken, pay given, periods of sickness and any accidents that occur while your carer is at work.
Hiring your own homecare is no walk in the park but it may be the right option for you. My advice is to consider what’s involved very carefully before you take this route. Ask yourself if the extra workload and responsibility is really worth the saving – because when you add in all the costs it’s not that much of a saving.
Why our customers prefer to rely on us
There are many reasons why our customers choose Bluebird Care Trafford instead of hiring their own paid carer.
They pay a little more but get a great deal more for their money: exceptional carers who are selected with the utmost care and trained to standards that far exceed other homecare companies, and a brilliant office team that supports customers and supervises carers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Our customers know we’re always just a phone call away and ready to respond instantly when they need us. They know we deliver homecare proven to help them live a better life for longer. They have priceless peace of mind – and all for little more than the cost of going it alone.
By Ian Helsby