How to become a live-in or home carer?

06 Jun 2018

How to become a professional live-in or home carer

If you like working with people, becoming a professional live-in or home carer is a very rewarding career choice. Supporting individuals and families with complex needs, disabilities or illnesses in their own homes is a great way to provide hands-on help and really make a difference.

What do professional carers do?

Professional in-home carers provide practical support which lets people remain independent and continue to live in their own homes. This ranges from short visits to provide help with a particular set of tasks (such as getting up, bathing, dressing, toileting) to live-in care for someone who needs round-the-clock care or constant on-call support.

What qualifications or experience do I need to be a carer?

Most care agencies offer in-house, on-the-job and professional training so most people don’t need any particular caring qualifications or experience when they start out. A caring disposition and a good bedside manner are essential as you will be working with people who may be going through very difficult times. Agencies may also specialize in particular areas and be looking for people with experience of specific conditions or circumstances, such as dementia, end of life care or providing support for families with a disabled child.

How much do carers get paid?

Professional care workers typically get paid for the hours they work, which can be ideal if you have other commitments (such as children or a partner doing shift work) that you need to work around. However, the downside is that you may only be paid for the hours you are with clients, not for transport or days when they don’t need you (for example, if a regular client is on holiday). How this works out will vary depending on whether you find clients directly or work through an agency. Overall, care workers typically get paid around £21,000 per year working full time.

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Finding work

The two main routes to working as a professional in-home carer are to either contact clients directly and build up your own business that way or to go through an agency. If you choose to work independently, you will need to ensure that you are properly insured, trained and qualified to offer the services your clients want. You will also need to manage your own accounts and pay tax on your income. On the plus side, you will be able to set your own hours and rates of pay, and offer the range of services that suit your skills and meet your clients’ needs, even if these are an unusual mix (cleaning, typing and cooking, for example).

Care agencies will employ you directly and then find clients for you to support. This means that they should deal with paying NI contributions, finding and arranging client work and so on. The admin is simpler for you, however you may find that you have more restrictions on the types of support you can offer and the time given to do particular tasks. They will normally offer training and support, which is ideal if you’re starting out.

A third option, which falls somewhere between the two, is to be self-employed and look for agencies which offer introductory services, matching carers to clients, as this can take some of the pressure of with regards to finding work while also letting you remain independent.

Find out more about carers insurance

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