In an ideal world we’d have the time, the necessary skills and – at times – the patience to look after our parents as they get older. But for many, the juggle of work, children and geography can make caring for our parents incredibly difficult.
Hiring a live-in carer or day carer – both options are also referred to as homecare or domiciliary care – could be the answer. Mum or Dad get the help they need which enables them to remain living independently in the their own home and you get the peace of mind that they are safe and happy.
In this guide we will share the different homecare options available, the advantages and disadvantages to each one, the cost and more.
When is it the right time to hire a carer?
You might have noticed a change in your parent’s health, fitness or mobility. Or it could be that you have been doing more and more for them and now feel the need for additional support.
Making the decision to seek care in the home for your Mum or Dad is something they and the rest of the family obviously need to support. Timing is important, also that your parents get the necessary help without encroaching on their independence. If you agree with the three statements below – it may well be time to hire a carer.
They are struggling to do the things they used to, like cleaning the house, shopping, cooking and getting themselves washed and dressed.
Despite these struggles they want to stay in their home. Maintaining a sense of independence is vital.
Their home is still suitable but there's potential for some minor adaptations to make it safer.
What are the different care options?
Depending on the level of care needed, there are 2 main options to choose from when looking to arrange care for an elderly parent or relative in the home:
1) Domiciliary Day Care
2) Live-in Care
You can find local homecare services in our Home Care Finder.
You might already know someone suitable or prefer to recruit and employ a carer directly. However, if you have no idea where to start, there are agencies and providers who can help you to find a suitable home carer. The main difference between an agency and provider is that whilst both help you to recruit a carer, the provider will employ the carer directly and an agency will relinquish the employment to the family directly.
In this next section we will take you through the basics – pros, cons and costs.
Hiring a daytime home carer
If you are confident your elderly parent(s) are safe by themselves for set periods during the day and at night, employing a daytime home carer (or domiciliary day carer) might be a better and cost effective option. You can find day carers privately or through an agency or provider. If your parent requires medical assistance, it may be possible to have it funded by NHS Continuing Care.
- Potentially a cheaper option if your parent doesn't require around-the-clock care
- They don't take up a room or require any living allowances
- You and your parents maintain a greater level of privacy
- More flexibility with hours and short term care
- You are not guaranteed the same carer everyday, which may be more disconcerting for your parent
- It can be more expensive than live-in care if you end up hiring them for a large portion of the day
- Depending on how you choose to hire, you may have to deal with employee contracts and legal matters
The price of a daytime home carer will depend upon type of care needed, hours, location and circumstance. Prices for this type of care are usually quoted by the hour. The average cost for homecare in the UK is around £15 per hour, but can go up to and above £25 if your parent has intensive needs.
If you are hiring a private daytime home carer, what you pay them will be an important discussion. You are likely to want the best value and the best care – a bit of a balancing act.
If your parent needs care for 6 hours a day this can mean a weekly cost of approximately £630. If the hours required start creeping up, it could be more cost effective to consider a live-in carer.
Hiring a private live-in carer
The most direct route is to hire a live-in carer yourself, either on your own or via an introductory live-in care agency. For full time live-in care this can be the most cost-effective way of providing round the clock care for your parents. If you decide to recruit a live-in carer yourself, you might find self employed carers advertising their services on local job sites or in the paper. However, you might prefer the more proactive approach and run your own job advert in the local paper or on community websites. This way you can detail exactly what you are looking for.
However, this can be time consuming and the recruitment process might be outside your comfort zone, which is where a live-in care agency can help. They have the experience, expertise and database to provide you with a list of potential qualified candidates. Live-in care agencies often vet carers before listing them on their site, and some supply training. However, there is a cost to this service, they act only as an introductory agency and you will employ the carer directly. See our advantages and disadvantages of employing a live in carer directly.
- More control over the role your carer has and the hours they work
- As their employer, you will get to know the carer much more personally
- It is often cheaper than going through a provider
- You will become an employer and be responsible for their employment contract, DBS checks, holiday and sicknes, payroll - tax and national insurance, employers insurance, pensions and so on.
- You will have to organise secondary care if your carer gets sick or needs a break
- You will have to pay them even if your parent is in hospital
- Not regulated by the CQC
How much does it cost to employ a live-in carer privately?
As with all options on this page, there are some variables that will affect how much live-in care costs. These include whether a live-in carer is looking after one person or a couple, their medical needs and whether you decide to use live-in care agency to recruit.
Finding and employing a live-in caregiver yourself is the cheapest option, as you accept all the recruitment and employer responsibility. This could cost anywhere from £700 to £1,200 per week, depending on the requirements. You should expect to add at least 10% to the costs when going through a live-in care agency.
Hiring a carer through a live-in care provider
Similar to a live-in agency, a live-in care provider will help you find the right carer but they will also employ and manage the carer. You simply pay the provider and they will take on all employent responsibilities and therefore greatly reduces the work for the family.
- The provider handles contracts, payment and all employment responsibilities
- Continual care is guaranteed in the case that your primary care is sick or away
- Regulated by the CQC
- Effective complaints procedure in place
- Providers have a Care Manager responsible for managing the carer and their day to day needs
- Providers often train carers up to a specific standard
- More limited choice of carer
- More expensive than an agency or organising care privately
- You are one step removed and therfore need to fully trust the carer provider
How much does it cost to hire a carer through a live-in care provider?
Depending on the level of care required, along with many other factors, live-in care costs can range from approximately £950 to £1,600 a week. This is more than what you can expect from an agency or from dealing directly with a carer. However, many people will accept the increased cost for the ease of not being directly responsible as an employer and all that entails.
Other homecare options to consider
If you’re not quite ready for full blown care, there are some other options you might consider:
Hiring an au pair - or a student
If your Mum or Dad doesn’t need assistance with personal care and simply needs some domestic help and a bit of company – it may be worth considering getting an au pair.
An au pair is someone who comes to this country with a good grasp of the language but wishes to improve their English. To do this, they live in someone’s home and carry out domestic tasks around the house.
For 30 hours a week an au pair is expected to be paid at least £85 or around £70 for 20 hours. As they are not classed as employees, au pairs do not get statutory sick pay and are not paid the minimum wage.
You can find these types of schemes by searching for them online and using websites like Unique Aupairs.
Bespoke care or companionship
Get help funding homecare
There is no way around it, homecare is expensive no matter which option you choose. However, there are ways you can help make it more affordable. The main two ways to do so are through social care funding from your local government, and NHS Continuing Healthcare. Follow the respective links to find out more about support funding day and live-in care.
Having the conversation
It can be incredibly difficult to get your parents to agree to help, however, most older people want to remain living in their own home. Sometimes a crisis such as a fall, makes the conversation redundant as care becomes an inevitability. You may have to start small, build up trust and increase the amount of care over time. Good luck!
Do you have any advice or experience you would like to share about hiring carer? Head to our Facebook page and join our community of adult carers.