Whether you decide to hire a carer through a live-in care company or you want to hire a carer privately, there are a number of questions that you should ask as part of your decision-making. This will help ensure sure the best chance of hiring a carer who will meet your elderly relatives needs; and also facilitate the carer to carry out their duties as effectively as possible.
Age Space has compiled a guide on the questions to ask when hiring a live-in carer. Some of the questions for hiring a private carer will also be relevant if you decide to use a live-in care provider or agency.
Questions to ask when hiring a live-in carer privately
When talking directly to a live-in carer you can get right down to the day to day and even moment by moment logistics of caring for your relative; this process will also enable you to start to get to know the carer a bit in terms of how they work and what their strengths are before deciding to hire them.
Questions to ask a carer
Do you have experience with the type of needs my parent has?
If your parent has specific care or nursing needs make sure that the live-in carer you choose has the knowledge and experience to deal with those needs effectively.
How soon can you start?
While we recommend spending time finding and considering potential live-in caregivers, in some circumstances you might require a quick turnaround. Therefore, make sure you know when a carer can start, as you would whenever you employ a new person. Make sure you also have time to set up a room for them.
What languages do you speak?
Communication is vital in making sure the relationship between a caregiver and receiver is the best it can be. Don't be afraid to ask this question so that you employ a carer that is able to communicate with your relative.
Can you drive?
If you require that a live-in carer can drive, whether it be to appointments with your relative or just to the shop, this is something you should ask for. When hiring a carer privately you might even be able to add them onto your car insurance.
Are you comfortable with pets?
It may seem like a silly one but making sure that a carer is not only comfortable with pets, but knowing if they are able to help look after any pets your parents own is good to find out ahead of time!
What types of food do you like to cook?
Especially if your elderly relative has any dietary requirements, finding out what a carer likes to cook (and can cook) is really important.
What sort of companionship would you provide?
Being a good carer isn't all about the practical and nursing aspects, but also being a friend for you parent. Find out what they like to do with people they care for whether it is games, cards, crosswords, puzzles or anything else!
Questions to ask yourself
What happens if the carer is sick or on holiday?
If you have hired a live-in carer privately, you will be responsible for covering any time off. With enough notice you can plan holiday cover, we suggest you investigate respite care if you can't manage alone. We suggest having an emergency family plan in place for sickness cover.
What do I need to provide the live-in carer with?
As they will be living in someone else's home you will need to provide them with a suitable, clean and private living space in addition to washing facilities and anything else that they reasonable would expect. Find out more about what a live-in carer needs?
How do I complain about a carer?
Hopefully you will never need to use one, but in the case that you are unhappy with the care a carer is providing, or you are worried that the carer is taking advantage of your relative, knowing that there is a robust, quick and effective complaints procedure in place can be comforting. Find out more about how to complain about a live-in carer.
What is not included in a live-in carers job description?
Knowing what is and what isn't required of a live-in carer is important to avoid confusion and to ensure a happy and professional working partnership. Read our guide to what a live-in carer does.
What do I need to do to hire a carer privately?
Hiring a carer privately means that you are now an employer. This means that you will need to register as an employer with HMRC, operate PAYE and deduct income tax if applicable, carry out employee checks (right to work in the UK etc), carry out a DBS check and more... Which? has a good guide on the responsibilities you have as a live-in care employer.
Questions to ask live-in providers
A live-in care provider recruits and manages their own carers. You pay the provider and they in turn will pay the carer. Specific questions to ask a live-in care provider usually revolve around recruitment, management and payment of the carer.
How do you recruit your carers?
Understanding how rigorous a live-in care providers recruitment process is, can offer some comfort they will supply a carer that fits your requirements. For example, do they have in-person interviews?
Do you train your carers?
Live-in care providers are more likely (than agencies) to train the carers they employ. Find out whether this is the case, how extensive it is, and what is included in the training. For example, are carers taught emergency health scenarios and CPR?
How does payment work? What is included?
With live-in care providers you pay the company and they pay the carer. Therefore, you need to know who and when to pay and what is included in the cost. For example, does the price include food for the carer or is that in addition. Getting transparency on costs is really important to manage expectations.
Can I meet a carer before employing them?
The answer to this will depend on the provider, but you should atleast have the opportunity to meet a live-in caregiver digitally before deciding to employ them. Find out as much information as possible, for example see if you can you see their CV and references in advance?
What do I do if I don't like the carer?
Sometimes things don't work out and therefore it's a good idea to find out in advance how you go about requesting a change of live-in carer and if there are any penalties.
What happens if a carer is sick?
Make sure you know the protocol ahead of time if a live-in carer is sick or has to take unexpected leave. Live-in care providers will usually supply a fill-in carer immediately.
Is respite care available?
If you only require live-in care on a short term basis, ask if a live-in care provider offers a separate package for respite or temporary care.
What is your CQC Rating?
Live-in care providers differ from agencies in that they are required to be signed up, regulated and inspected by the CQC (Care Quality Commission). Find out more about where you can find a provider's CQC rating.
What is the complaints procedure?
Knowing that there is a comprehensive complaints procedure in place should you need it can offer you some piece of mind when employing a live-in carer through a provider.
Questions to ask live-in agencies
A live-in care agency will introduce you to carers in your area who they have background checked and are happy to recommend. They don’t directly employ carers, they simply use their expertise to find you the right live-in carer and hand over all employment and management duties to the family. The questions you might have for a live-in care agency will be more focussed on how much interaction they have with potential caregivers.
Do you train the carers?
Some live-in care agencies offer a base level of training. However as they don't employ the carers neither the agency or the carer has a requirement to undergo further training. It's worth noting that the carers experience and references will be checked in order for them to be on a live-in care agencies books and therefore you can ask to see what previous training they have had before making a decision.
What are the minimum requirements a carer has to fulfill to be recommended by you?
This is an important question for families to feel safe and secure in both the agency and the carer. Find out how a live-in care agency recruits potential caregivers and how much they scrutinise them before introducing them to you. What are the minimum skills or years of experience a carer needs to be on the agencies books.
Can I meet the carer before they arrive?
Unlike with a live-in care provider, the answer to this is likely to be no - at least in person. This is because live-in carers can come from any part of the country. However, it is always worth asking how you are able to ask any questions of a carer beforehand to make sure you make the right decision.
What do I do if I am unhappy with a carer?
The contract you have with a live-in carer is directly with them and therefore it is important to find out about employment law and if the agency has any contractual obligations. The live-in care agency should be able to guide you with regards to the complaints procedure and termination.
How are your carers monitored and regulated?
As live-in care agencies are unable to be regulated by the CQC, they should have some internal regulation procedure in place to make sure a high standard of care is maintained. Ask them how they regulate the carers they introduce.
What happens if a carer is sick?
Agencies might be slightly more complicated to deal with here and it may be that you need to find a back-up carer yourself. However, some live-in care agencies are able to supply short term carers on short notice.