Paying for a private carer
If you are the main carer for someone there may be times when you need some additional support. If the person you look after has had an assessment from the council, the local authority may be able to meet some or all of the costs of any additional care needed.
And you should also be offered your own carer's assessment by the council.
However sometimes you may find that you are not entitled to support from the council.
Alternatively you may prefer to use a service that the council cannot provide, or that exceeds the level of the personal budget which the council has agreed to pay to the person you look after.
Or you may simply decide you would prefer to make your own arrangements and stay in control as much as possible.
In such cases you may find that the best way to get support for you and the person you are looking after is by paying for help privately.
If you do arrange support privately then, regardless of the financial circumstances of the person you look after, they may be entitled to state disability benefits which are intended to help meet the costs of support at home.
Paying a personal care assistant directly gives you greater control over the kind of care provided. However you need to be aware that you and / or the person you are looking after will act as their employer, which has certain practical, legal and financial implications, including:
- recruiting the care worker and checking references
- drawing up a contract of employment and agreeing the hours of work
- paying income tax and national insurance
- arranging insurance cover in case of accidents
- arranging alternative care whilst the personal assistant is on holiday or ill, or if they resign.
Her Majesty Revenue and Customs provide advice on tax arrangements if you employ a personal care assistant.
ACAS provide information on the employment rights of personal care assistants.
The Skills for Care website has a toolkit to help you employ your own personal assistants. It includes downloads and videos on YouTube about personal assistants.
The old Direct Gov website provided advice on all aspects of employing a personal care assistant - this information has been archived but is still available at the time of writing.
You can also opt to book care through a home care agency . Using an agency may mean you have less control over who the carer is, and is usually more expensive, but has the advantage that the agency will take care of most of the tax paperwork and payroll, and will arrange cover if your usual assistant is not available.
Home care agencies will provide trained care workers or, when required, nurses who can come to your home to assist with tasks such as:
- shopping, cleaning, laundry, ironing
- personal care such as washing, bathing, dressing, going to the toilet, and managing any problems with incontinence
- meal preparation
- taking medication
- treating ongoing health problems which require specialist nursing input (including receiving injections, changing dressings and bandages)
- going out in the local community
Agencies will charge different amounts depending on the type of care required. Personal care and nursing care is sometimes more expensive than, for example, help with cleaning your home because the carers require additional training.
Some agencies will offer specialist support for people with particular needs, for example people with learning disabilities, people with dementia or mental health problems, or people with brain injuries.
Depending on your needs and your financial situation you can choose to have a care worker visit you once or twice per week, or one or more times per day, or you can arrange for someone to be with you 24 hours a day.
Choosing a home care agency
Home care agencies in your area
You can find details of agencies that may be able to help you in our Services and Products section. Do a search using the words ''domiciliary care' in the search box at the top of this page for an extensive list of local home care agencies.
Alternatively you can look at our list of home care agencies currently offering support at home in Westminster, or Kensington and Chelsea, and contact them to see what they provide.
Using the Care Quality Commission website
Home care agencies are run by a variety of organisations, including private firms, charities and voluntary sector organisations, and local councils. They are registered and regulated in England by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The CQC visits them regularly and writes a report about the agency which you can see on its website; this report will tell you what the agency does well, and about any areas where they need to improve their standards.
You can use the Care Quality Commission (CQC) website to search for home care agencies in your area, to see what types of support they offer, and to see if they have an up-to-date and good inspection report.
The CQC have produced a leaflet about the standard of care you should expect in your home. Click here to download the leaflet.
Using the NHS website
The NHS website also allows you to search for home care agencies in your area, to see what other people have said about them, and to rate them yourself based on your experiences.
The At Home Service from Age UK offers a range of personally tailored packages of care and support for older people in the Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster areas.
If you have a smart phone or a tablet then you can download the Jointly app (from Carers UK); this makes caring for someone a little easier, less stressful and a lot more organised.
With Jointly you can create a task and assign it to any member of your Jointly circle, store useful information about the person you are looking after and use Jointly’s Medications feature to keep track of current and past medication of the person you are caring for.
The Carers Network are the main organisation in Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster providing support, information, breaks and grants for unpaid carers.
Kensington and Chelsea
Kensington and Chelsea have produced a leaflet called Carers and the Care Act.
And you can go to our page on support and advice for carers in Kensington and Chelsea for a handy summary of local support options.
Westminster have produced an information booklet for carers.
And you can go to our page on support and advice for carers in Westminster for a handy summary of local support options.
NHS Carers Direct has useful information and advice on respite care and the value of breaks for carers
Carers UK has advice on respite care, as well as directories of respite care providers, and holiday companies that specialise in breaks for carers or care holidays.
The Which website offers advice on all aspects of arranging respite care.
The Carers Trust offers information on respite care.
You can find out more about local support available to carers on our Carers' advice and support organisations page.
And our Events calendar offers information on support groups and other activities for carers in your area.