Agency care is becoming increasingly expensive and cannot be a cost effective solution for many client’s with care needs in the long term. Consistency of care is crucial, particularly where the client has complex care needs which require the carers to undergo specialist training. Familiarity is also important and will also contribute to good outcomes. We see our carers as instrumental to maximising our client’s quality of life as this enables them to live at home and maintain their independence. We always seek to ensure that carers have the passion, dedication, empathy and experience that are required to carry out this role.
The first step will be to identify how much care is required and whether any of this will need to be nursing care. If a Case Manager is instructed then they will be able to provide the Deputy with a report setting out the care requirements such as hours, qualifications, training and a description of the role to be advertised. The Deputy will always ensure that the client and their family should have as much input into this as they wish.
Finding the right carer
This is often the greatest challenge! An advert is always a good way to find carers but it is not the only way to recruit. The client and their family may already know someone that they would like to employ or have been recommended a particular person or agency; the Case Manager may also have links with a recruitment agency. The Case Manager will usually oversee the interview process and again, the client and their family can be as involved as much as they want. We would always recommend that the client meets with the potential carer so that they can check that they are compatible and will be able to work together. It is important that the advert highlights exactly how complex the client’s needs are so that any prospective carer is fully aware of the level of need that they will be required to meet and support.
What is the role of the Deputy in hiring a carer?
Generally the Deputy will be the employer but there are cases where a family member would prefer to take that role. Once the carer has been identified and they have provided the necessary references and DBS checks the Deputy will seek specialist employment advice in order to draft the contract of employment. They will need to capture all the necessary information such as who the carer will report to, place of employment, salary, hours of work and office rules, holidays, benefits and monitoring.
The employment solicitor will identify the most appropriate contract depending on the circumstances of each case. In addition they will ensure that the job description is suitable and that the carer is issued with the disciplinary and grievance procedures.
After the contract of employment has been signed the carer will then provide their financial details so that payroll and pensions can be set up. The carer will then submit their timesheets on a monthly basis which will then be approved by either the case manager or the carer.
It is also important to ensure that the necessary employment liability insurances are in place. There are specialist providers of independent living insurance which offer protection for those employing personal assistants and carers.
Prior to the commencement of the role it will be important for them to carry out any necessary training if not already completed such as manual handing, suctioning, first aid, therapy and medication.
What if my carer is ill?
It is always important to have back up for the occasions when carers may be unwell or need to take time off. As an employee, carers are entitled to sick leave and also may put the client at risk of infection by attending work when they are unwell and so it is important to have contingencies in place. Where there is a team of carers in place they can provide cover or if there is a parent or relative living with the client then they can step in. Difficulties arise where there is only one carer in place; in such circumstances we would have plans in place such as using agency support on an ad hoc basis.
What challenges are faced in relation to paid carer support?
Numerous challenges can arise on a regular basis. Issues can arise that have to be dealt with on a frequent basis, examples include:
- Lack of training/experience
- Carer stress
- Late payments from payroll company
- Calculating holiday entitlements
It is so important to have access to employment advice and support as well as a robust contract of employment to ensure that both the employee and client are protected should such issues arise.
More complex challenges often occur as tensions can arise with the client and their families. There can be occasions where family members have unrealistic expectations of the carers, requiring them to work beyond their contracted hours and to carry out tasks that are not within the scope of the job description. Privacy and boundary issues within the family home are also an issue; by its very nature where the property is one person’s place of residence and another’s place of work this can be a very delicate situation. These issues have to be dealt with sensitively and on a case by case basis which is why it is so crucial for the deputy to have a good relationship with the client, family and case manager.