When the time comes to find dedicated care for your loved one for the first time, the options can be overwhelming.
Add in the emotional stress and urgency of arranging suitable care and it becomes even more pressing to make the right decision.
Do you choose a care home or nursing home? Sheltered accommodation or a home carer? Or maybe a private live-in carer is the best solution?
For many, the idea of a private carer sounds very appealing. Generally more affordable, more flexible and more personal, appointing a self-employed carer can offer the best of both worlds.
Here we explain the difference between a private carer and one provided by a care agency, what qualities make a great home carer and how much you can expect to pay for a private carer.
What is a private carer?
A private carer is someone who is either self-employed or employed by the carer and/or their family, rather than being employed by the government, a care agency or a care home.
Traditionally, the only way to find one was to place an advertisement or rely on word of mouth to track down a suitable candidate. You would then need to carry out your own background checks before feeling comfortable enough to give them the job.
If you go down this route, it also becomes your responsibility to establish their employment status. Are they a self-employed carer or will you be their employer?
Legislation introduced to the public sector in 2018 makes this a difficult area to navigate. It’s likely you won’t want this extra piece of admin on your to-do list.
If you do use the government’s online checking service to determine a private carer’s employment status, you may be legally classed as their employer which comes with plenty of responsibilities. You’d be required to operate a PAYE system, pay their wages directly, arrange insurance and provide holiday and sickness pay.
A daunting list for anybody, regardless of their skills and experience.
How to find a private carer in Manchester
Times have changed since the days of placing a card in a shop window or an ad in the local paper. The easiest way to find a private carer now is to use a company like Holm which thoroughly vets carers working across Greater Manchester and connects you directly to them.
This new style of homecare service means they’ll personally interview any potential carer, carry out extensive background checks, and confirm their skills, knowledge and qualifications before they can join the platform.
Those in search of a private carer can then search the online database for someone who matches their needs based on skills, experience, passions and location.
The result is a more personalised approach which offers greater control and certainty.
What are the advantages of using a self-employed private carer?
Finding a self-employed personal carer via a dedicated homecare service delivers a whole host of appealing benefits. You’ll be able to:
- Simplify the search process by using one trusted source.
- Find your ideal match by looking through a database of fully approved professional carers and connecting with those who exactly meet your needs.
- Select your preferred carer and liaise with them via the website.
- Communicate with them directly to make bookings and keep them up to date with any changes to arrangements/circumstances.
- Enjoy consistency of care from one carer who can build a long-term relationship with your loved one.
- Have a reliable back-up carer if your usual choice isn’t available.
- Select a carer with specific experience, e.g. dementia care.
- Pay less per hour than using a traditional care agency.
- Choose a carer from Holm and you’ll also be assured they’re earning a fair living with drastically lower commission rates.
- Relax in the knowledge that essential legal obligations are covered, e.g. tax returns and insurance.
What does a private carer do?
Whether they’re a live-in carer or pay regular homecare visits to your loved one, your private carer will do everything you’d expect another care provider to deliver. They’ll help with everyday tasks such as getting in and out of bed, washing, shopping, cooking and cleaning.
Alongside these basics, they’ll also provide invaluable friendship and emotional support. Something that’s quicker and easier to establish when your loved one has a regular, dedicated carer.
What qualities should you look for in a private carer?
As with all carers, you want to be reassured that your chosen individual is going to provide an exemplary service.
The emotional, physical and practical support they provide should not only meet basic needs but also contribute to combating loneliness, building self-esteem and even prolonging life.
It’s a challenging job that depends on the right combination of personality and experience.
When searching for the perfect match, consider first whether your loved one needs any form of specialist support. If they have a particular medical condition, you want the peace of mind that their carer has both experience in and knowledge of it. They may also have specific qualifications to add that extra layer of peace of mind.
Beyond that, also consider location. If your ideal carer doesn’t drive and lives three bus journeys away, this could cause unnecessary practical difficulties related to availability and timekeeping.
A sense of relaxed personal rapport should also be close to the top of your wish-list. All carers will listen to your loved one’s wishes and needs and do their very best to build a strong relationship. But if, after a few visits, you feel the early signs don’t point towards ultimate compatibility, it may be wise to reconsider your choice.
You can also be assured that private carers will be:
All carers approved by and booked via Holm spend a minimum of one hour per visit, ensuring they all go well beyond the basics. Additional time means less rush, more chat and stronger relationships.
How much does a private carer cost?
Using a self-employed private carer will prove more cost-effective than accessing one via an agency.
While you can typically expect to pay between £20-£25 per hour for an agency carer, increasing by around 50% overnight, on Sundays and on Bank Holidays, private rates start from as little as £15 per hour. Which equates to as much as £600 a month: a major saving over time.
For example, Holm’s transparent hourly rates are £15 Monday to Saturday during the day, £17.50 Monday to Saturday at night, and £22.50 on Sundays and Bank Holidays. Opt for live-in care and you’ll be paying £144 per day.
Can you get a private carer for free?
You may be asking yourself if you are eligible for local authority or NHS funding for a private carer. The short answer is: it depends.
Nobody is automatically entitled to free care unless they meet very specific and carefully vetted criteria. It’s a complicated system so it’s vital to do your research.
This means test will take the following into consideration:
- Regular income including pensions, benefits and earnings
- Capital including cash savings, investments, land, property and business assets
The outcome will then be matched to current government thresholds to determine the level of funding support. If you are entitled to this local authority funding, it will take the form of a personal budget which can then be spent using one of three methods:
- Managed account: this popular choice means the local authority looks after the money, makes care arrangements and pays the providers’ fees.
- Third-party account: similar to a managed account, a third-party broker oversees the budget. This is often the care provider.
- Direct payments: the person receiving care is given the money and can spend it however they choose to meet agreed needs in a care plan. Paid into a dedicated bank account, this option maximises flexibility and independence. Extra work is involved here when sourcing help, but direct payments provide valuable freedom of choice, and Holm can help you with this.
With direct payments, because you can choose your provider, you can allocate this financial support to funding a private carer.
To avoid the burden of becoming their employer, remember there are two options available: use a care agency who’ll deal with all the paperwork and charge accordingly, or head to an online homecare platform like Holm where all private carers are self-employed. Not only will these independent carers manage their own finances, you can also be reassured that they’re receiving a better wage than an agency worker.
NHS-funded care, known as NHS Continuing Healthcare, is only available to those assessed as having a ‘primary health need’ which involves a complex medical condition or ongoing care requirements.
If your loved one fulfils the requirements, you can request a Personal Health Budget which can be used to pay for a self-employed home carer.
For more detailed insight into your financial options, download our free guide to elderly care.
So if you’re looking for a rigorously vetted private carer to look after your loved one, opting for a self-employed carer approved by a professional homecare company is your best option.
You’ll enjoy high standards of excellence, unbeatable personal service and a more affordable pricing structure.
Find your perfect private carer at Holm.