Guardian Carers Feature on BBC News London

Things to consider when employing a carer

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Research shows that the vast majority of people would prefer to stay in their own home rather than move into residential care facilities during a time in their life when they need a little more assistance getting by. A carer can be a great option for providing that care but still giving the client the freedom and independence to stay within their own home and community.

But employing a carer is a huge responsibility that requires a lot of consideration and a whole lot of trust. Not to mention a number of practical and legal issues too. If you are thinking of hiring a carer then here are some things to think about first.

Things to consider when employing a carer

Your needs and requirements

Care comes in many different guises and on varying levels. Before you even begin looking for a carer, it would be helpful to sit down with your loved ones and thoroughly assess just what sort of help you need and how often. For example, are there care needs daily or would you simply need a little help a few times a week? Do you need help with personal hygiene and mobility? Shopping? Household chores and organisation with bills etc?

Be aware that most carers cannot carry out medical care or assessment - this would usually fall under the remit of a district nurse or therapist. So it's worth thinking carefully about what you need before you approach any care providers.

Use an agency or go it alone?

When it comes to looking for a carer you can self-advertise or go to a reputable care agency such as Guardian Carers who can connect you with a suitable candidate. This removes the hassle of worrying about pay, taxes, insurance and background checks.

In contrast, employing and paying a carer directly means that you effectively become an employer and as such you have to register with HMRC and undertake the administration. Be prepared to think about pay, tax, holidays, employer insurance and sick leave.

Things to consider when employing a carer

Checks and interviews

Background checks are an integral part to employing a carer. Criminal history checks and disclosure (otherwise known as DBS checks) will need to be carried out. It's also important to assess the practical history and experience of a candidate as well as checking out any of their qualifications and training. Look for qualifications in first aid and food hygiene - these are good, practical skills to have in the caring profession.

Go with your instincts

You will, of course, need to meet the candidate at the interview stage or sooner. It's important to go with your instincts and try and scope out their personality and values to see whether or not they will be a good match for your family. Caring is a very personal service and if you have concerns or reservations then don't ignore them. A care position that doesn't work out will simply send everyone back to the drawing board and waste valuable time.

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