Need advice on when/how to hire professional care workers

Hi! I have been taking care of my grandmother for the past few months after she fell, but I have a job and a family (with a newborn baby), so I don’t think I can continue being her main carer as her health also deteriorates. She needs help cooking, dressing up and taking care of her home.
We are not eligible for financial support from the local authority so we will need to self-fund that support, which should be fine for now. I would love to get some advice from members of this forum who hired care workers for their relatives. Where did you go to find them (through an agency or you employed someone directly)? How did you select them? What was your main challenge? What should I be aware of?
Thanks a lot in advance for your help!!

Hi Violaine … a good place to start ?

NHS website … on home help … takes you through the basics :

Help at home from a carer - NHS

Plenty of agencies out there … and some cowboys … always pays to do some digging before taking the first step.

Even then , an one on one situation … will your grandmother " Bond " with a selected care worker ?

Always bear in mind that ANY paid care worker works to a rule book … such a book does not exist for a family / kinship carer.

I’m sure your gran probably wants to go on living at her home, but it might be that it is simply easier and more practical (and no less expensive in the end?) for her to consider moving into residential care.

Please don’t be put off by the negative stories we see in the press about awfu lcare homes! My MIL was in three, and they were all lovely - the first two especially (the third was for ‘heavy duty’ dementia patients, so inherently a bit grim, alas).

A good care home is like a ‘cosy hotel for OAPs’, so please dont’ rule it out.

Also, you may find it timely to suss out which care homes take respite residents - eg, if you are away on holiday or whatever, gran could be there for a fortnight, so you don’t have to worry or oversee carers coming in to her home.

Sadly, your grans’ health will inevitably continue to deterioriate, so her needs will only grow indefinitely.

Do you think there is any sign of dementia starting up? If she retains ‘a sound mind’ to the end, that makes a HUGE difference! And SO much easier!

For now, do have the conversation about Power of Attorney. This needs to be set up now, so that IF say your gran is taken into hospital, you can administer her finances (and of course, in case dementia sets in).

By the way, how come YOU are looking after your gran? What about your mum/dad or any other children she might have???!

Thank you very much Chris and Jenny.
@Chris: what do you mean by “works to a rule book”. Do you have experience hiring care workers?
@Jenny: thanks for the advice on care homes. She has no sign of dementia for the moment, just her sight that is getting worst.
I am the one caring for her as the rest of the family is not around, but I asked them to visit more often to support me.
Do you have experience hiring care workers for your MIL before she went to the care home?

Your welcome.

Rule book ?

Employment law … enjoyed by all employed care workers … hours / conditions / holiday and sickness pay / pensions / Health & Safety etc.etc.

None of which apply to a family / kinship carer.

As a former , lone , 24 / 7 carer , I have had no direct experience of meeting / engaging with a paid care worker.

It may all depend whether you want someone to call in on your grandmother several times a day, or actually have a carer ‘live in’.

Basically, your choice is, as you say, either to go via an agency, or to try ‘direct hire’.

To be honest, I would start off with the former. It is way ‘easier’ than the latter. BUT, it is likely to be more expensive.

Going via an agency has the following advantages:

  • The agency remains the carer’s employer, so you don’t have to bother with all the legal stuff about employing someone yourself (NI, pension, maternity leave, holiday leave, employer’s liability insurance, etc etc etc)(not to mention how to sack them if they are useless!)

  • The agency ‘should’ (but CHECK) provide the necessary insurance the carer needs when in your home - ie, insurance to cover any accident to the CARER (eg, they fall down your gran’s staircase and break their leg!) or any accident to your GRAN caused by them (she falls when the carer is holding her and breaks her hip), or any damage to your gran’s home while in it (from breaking a mug to burning it down by accident!) (hopefully by accident)(which brings me on to the next point…)

  • the agency deals with all the ‘employability’ of the carer. The agency runs all the checks on things like CRB etc etc (and hopefully filters out the fire-raising psychos!) so you don’t have to.

  • the agency has ‘lots of carers’, so if you don’t like (or your gran doesn’t like) the one they send, you can ask for a different one. ie, carers are more ‘swappable’ than direct heir.

  • your contract is with the agency, not the carer, and since the agency is a ‘proper company’ it has rules and regulations that bind it to behave professionally.

  • an agency is ‘reputation sensitive’, so if you feel it is useless, behaving badly, etc ec, then you can cause it ‘reputational damage’ (providing it is TRUE what you complain about, not defamatory) which could injure it commercially. ie, it is more ‘eager to please’ customers.

The main ‘downside’ of going via an agency is that it will inevitably cost more than a direct hire, because all the above ‘costs more’. But then you are getting more as well (ie, all the above).

I would for all those reasons definitely opt for the agency route, at least to begin with. As you become more 'au fai’t with the world of professional care, you may get bolder and go for a direct hire of someone. But employing ANYONE in this day and age is not ‘straightforward’ and needs to be done understanding all the legal ramifications (and obligations, and limitiations) that it places on you as an employer.

On the issue of ‘pop in carers’ or ‘live in carers’, an agency should be able to supply either. My friend used to hire a ‘part time live in’ carer when she wanted (desperately needed!) a holiday from caring from her father-with-dementia living with her. It was NOT cheap - over £100 a day. But since respite care in a care home is also over £100 a day, it was the ‘easier’ option, in that the dad simply went on doing whatever he did anyway, but with ‘someone else’ looking after him not his daughter.

PS - if you have a live in carer (or perhaps even if you have pop in carers!) let your gran’s insurers know! It’s essential the house (buildings and contents) cover allows for ‘strangers coming and going’ and though hopefully it won’t put up your gran’s premiums, it would be unwise NOT to inform the insurance company. You don’t want to give them ANY excuse not to pay out if that is necessary.

I would also ensure your gran takes out personal liability insurance for the safety of the carer coming in and out of her house/flat, eg, if the carer falls down the stairs and is paralysed, she could sue and take the house off your gran or whatever!

Think ‘worst case scenario’ and hopefully you’ll be safe!!

Even though my mother had some savings, her care was provided by a care agency hired by the local authority. The LA then billed my mother. That worked out less expensive than my mum hiring an agency directly herself. You ought not to pay out of your pocket for your family member’s care. In our case, we didn’t have to deal with the complications of hiring/firing, although we still had issues that we dealt with through the local authority.

Thanks everyone for the great feedback. We have hired a care worker from an agency, so far it’s going well.