Carer or Care Agency?

Carer or Care Agency?

There are many talented carers working in Sussex who you can employ, and there are many positives to hiring someone independently. You get more choice about recruiting the person you want and more control over the service you receive.  However, there are considerations and this is our guide to deciding on a carer or care agency.

Employing a carer directly


You will need to personally advertise, shortlist, interview and select the potential candidates yourself as well as carrying out all necessary background checks and references.

If your relative needs care seven days a week, even if only for a few hours a day, you will need at least two carers to cover the whole week, plus any holiday or sick leave they may take.

You will also need to register as an employer with HMRC, operate PAYE, pay National Insurance and statutory sick pay (SSP) as well as getting employer’s liability insurance.

You can find out more about the practicalities of hiring a carer on the Which? Elderly Care website.

Contracting a Care Agency

If you employ a carer through a local care agency you can avoid a lot of this hassle. The agency will be responsible for processing all background checks, payments, insurances and for choosing the appropriate carer for your relative’s needs. An agency will also have experience in interviewing and hiring healthcare professionals whereas you are likely to be in uncharted territory.


However, with an agency you may not always have the same carer visiting your home, though most agencies will make you aware beforehand if you regular carer is being temporarily replaced. The upside is that you have the peace of mind that even if your carer calls in sick, or takes a holiday, your relative will still get the care they need without you having to manage the relationship.

Naturally, using a care agency will be more expensive than hiring directly, as the agency will have to take a cut, though you may consider this worth it for saving you time and effort.  You should check the agency’s rating with the Care Quality Commission, and also ask for recommendations locally.

There are numerous trustworthy care agencies in Sussex and you can use the Home Care website to search for suitable agencies in East Sussex (here) and West Sussex (here).

Advantages and Disadvantages
The advantages of hiring a carer directly:The disadvantages to hiring a carer directly:
·         You get to choose the carer yourself and they will always be the one who turns up.

·         It is easier to build a relationship and they may become a companion as well as a carer.

·         It’s cheaper than paying for care via an agency.

·         If you want your carer to drive your car it’s easier to have named drivers on your insurance.

·         If you get a Personal Budget from Social Services, you can use it to pay for your carer.

·         You will need to hire two carers to ensure cover for holidays and sickness.

·         You need to pay your employee even if your relative is in hospital or on holiday.

·         The requirement to become an employer with responsibilities for vetting (DBS – Disclosure & Barring Service), checking references and immigration statuses.

·         You will have to issue contracts, take out insurance, paying tax and NI (PAYE).

·         Advertising, shortlisting and interviewing candidates is time consuming (although you can pay an agency to do some of this).

·         Trusting someone enough to leave them at home alone with a potentially vulnerable person can be a challenge, especially if you do not live nearby.

·         If things don’t work out with your chosen carer, you will have to start again from scratch, possibly at very short notice.

·         You need to know that they have the right training and handling techniques to look after your relative’s individual needs.

We have lots of information in our blogs section – personal stories and advice – about all stages of care.   Join our forum and ask a question if you’re unsure.

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