Selecting a home carer for your elderly relative is an important decision. You want to ensure that the carer is not only qualified and competent but will also get on well with your relative. Knowing how home care providers and agencies recruit, train and select their staff can help you find the right person.
Home care agencies and providers have rigorous recruitment processes. In addition to the competencies and skills required, they also focus on the personal qualities of a good in-home caregiver. These include being compassionate, forward-thinking, knowledgeable and patient.
The information on this page will help to answer any questions you may have about the processes that home care companies use to choose the best home carers for the elderly.
Home carers are also sometimes known as domiciliary carers, visiting carers or in-home caregivers. Organisations providing home care may refer to it by any of these terms.
Recruitment process for home carers
Most home care services operate a similar recruitment process. This process usually involves the same 3 essential steps, which are explained in more detail below:
References and police checks
You want your relative's visiting carer to be someone that is trustworthy. That is why references and police checks are an essential part of the visiting home carer recruitment process. Good care providers and agencies will demand an enhanced DBS check.
It is important that your carer's grasp of language is sufficient for your relative to communicate with them easily and effectively — particularly in regard to medical concerns. Many home carers are recruited from other countries, but they will have to demonstrate proficiency in English to be selected to enter people's homes.
Situational assessments are one of the key elements of all elder care services' recruitment processes. Situational assessments involve asking a potential day carer what they would do in a certain situation e.g. "What would you do if the person you are caring for appeared to be in a lot of pain?"
They will then use the candidate's answers to these questions to determine whether or not they demonstrate the key skills, knowledge and initiative to be an effective carer.
Remember, you can always ask an elderly home care company to explain their recruitment process to you before you make a decision.
As well as finding out about their recruitment and training processes, Age Space has put together a list of key questions to ask home care companies.
Training process for home carers
Once a home carer has passed the initial rounds of recruitment, they will then undergo training before they start providing care in peoples’ homes.
Training varies from company to company, as they tend to have their own bespoke programme. What they all have in common is the knowledge of the skills and attributes needed for a home carer. This includes proficiency in providing personal care, effective communication, and knowledge of first aid.
Each home care agency and provider tends to train their carers to their own caring style. This should mean greater consistency for your relative if they change carers, or if they have different carers helping them at different times. Elderly home care companies should be happy to talk you through the details of their training programme.
The best training programmes include a mixture of classroom sessions and practical activities. This combination can develop skillsets and knowledge, and ensure that the carer will be confident in their role, whatever is thrown at them.
Selection process for home carers
Finding a good home carer for your elderly relative goes beyond satisfaction with the training process. It should be the priority that your relative gets on well with the carer and feels comfortable having them in the home. Most elderly day care companies will try to find out what your relatives interests are, and match them with a carer who will be a good fit.
Ultimately, the best test of whether or not a carer will gel with your relative is for them to spend time together. Most agencies and providers offer a trial period in which your relative and their assigned carer, or carers, can meet.
With any luck it will be a match made in heaven. But you also may find some resistance initially, particularly if your parent or relative has not had a carer in the home before. Hopefully this will be short-lived, but it’s worth keeping a close eye on and to discuss with the agency or provider if you are concerned.
Some elderly people with more comprehensive needs require an in-home caregiver round-the-clock. Find out more about what a 24-hour live-in carer can do.
How are home care workers managed?
How home carers are managed depends on the way in which they are employed. The 3 most common options for employing a home carer are through a provider, through an introductory agency, or privately .
Below we have explained the management differences between each of the three hiring options.
Home care providers
Home carers from care providers are managed and employed entirely by the company that provides them; though you will of course have input.
Home care agencies
Home carers from agencies tend to be self-employed and do not usually receive the same level of direct management as carers from providers do. They will still have been trained and vetted by the home care agency.
The care agency will act as a middleman to ensure that all parties are happy and that the quality of care is high.
With some introductory home care agencies, you will be more involved in the day-to-day management of the care.
Private home carer
Private home carers are employed by the family directly, and therefore the care they provide is managed and guided by the family. The family is also responsible for paying the carer directly.
Find out more from our guide to recruiting and managing a private home carer.
Some providers use technology often in the form of an app to help co-ordinate, manage and record care between themselves, the carer and the family.
If you decide to employ a carer yourself, or with an agency that doesn’t use technology, take a look at our page on how tech can help you to manage your relative’s homecare.
Frequently Asked Questions about how home carers are selected and trained
What questions should I ask a day home care provider?
You should ask a home care provider a range of questions, including specific details about their recruitment, selection and training processes.
Find out about other questions you should ask a home care provider
What should I expect from a home care agency?
Home care agencies and providers will provide you with a personalised plan for home care for your elderly relative in their own home.
They will then find you a qualified and vetted home carer to provide support to your relative.
What should I do if I am concerned about my relative having outdated views?
We know that some older people can be resistant to carers from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
This could be because they've not had much interaction with people from diverse backgrounds, or due to their condition preventing them from filtering their thoughts.
This is not unusual and care companies understand this behaviour can happen. Do not be afraid to discuss, if you are worried about such issues.
Are domiciliary home care agencies regulated?
Introductory domiciliary home care agencies tend not to be regulated, because their carers are self-employed.
Some, but not all, domiciliary home care providers are regulated. The CQC is the body responsible for inspecting elderly home care services that are regulated.
Find out more about how elderly home care is regulated, and CQC ratings, from our page on home care rules and regulations.
How do I make a complaint about my relative's home carer?
How much do home care workers get paid?
The average hourly pay for home carers tends to be between £8.50 and £9.
The hourly pay for home care workers varies according to the type of organisation they work for, where they are based, and their level of training.
Home carers who are trained to care for people with dementia or other more complex needs tend to earn more.
Private home carers can earn more, as the hourly fee is worked out between the family and the individual home carer. Read more about how to employ a carer for the elderly privately.