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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The old Direct Gov website provided advice on all aspects of employing a personal care assistant - this information has been archived but is still available at the time of writing.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

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. 

  • Developed by Carers UK, Jointly is a mobile and online app designed by carers for carers. Jointly makes caring easier, less stressful and more organised by making communication and coordination between those who share the care as easy as a text message. 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. 

  • Talking Point is a forum offering advice for people living with dementia and their carers. (Produced by the Alzheimer’s Society.) 

  • People with dementia often struggle with short-term memory loss, and this can often mean that they forget where they are or where they should be. This family Locator app ensures loved ones are safe with GPS tracking. With Life360, just open the app and instantly see everyone in your private circle on the map. You can also message the whole group at once or privately.

  • Nourish Care is an easy to use online platform enabling you to plan, record, report and coordinate care on the go. The simple search allows you to share critical info within your care circle.
Last updated: 12/08/2021