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How to choose a live in carer

Once you’ve decided that live in care is right for you, it’s time to find the person who will be administering the care in your home.

In this article we discuss how you can choose a carer through an agency or choose one yourself.

Choosing a live in carer can understandably feel daunting.

You’re looking for someone special who meets your criteria – a person you’re going to be living with long-term. You need someone you trust, someone with the skills needed to care for you. A person you get on with.

In this article we’re also going to cover the process you’ll follow when choosing a live in carer. You’ll find tips and advice throughout to make things easier for you as you make your decision.

Some people choose to find a live in carer independently – others prefer to have an agency help them. That’s why we’ve split this article into two parts – one for those who would like to source care privately, and one for people who prefer some professional support.

There are pros and cons to each method. Often the advantages and disadvantages differ depending on your personal preferences and circumstances. Even if you haven’t decided yet, the information you’ll find here could help you to make your decision.

For some background, here is a video that looks at what Live in care is.

How to choose a live in carer – with an agency

Lots of people decide to go to an agency to help them to find a live in carer, or supply one for them. This method is ideal for anyone who lacks capacity to search for themselves. It also takes away the stress and inconvenience of sourcing privately.

An agency will take care of every aspect for you – from salary and holidays to insurance and sickness cover.

The matching process will differ slightly between agencies – but it generally follows a similar route. Here we share some key things to consider to help you to choose a live in carer with an agency. They will manage much of the process – but the final decision still lies with you.

1/ Select an agency to work with

The first decision you’ll make is which agency you would like to work with.

Research carefully and take recommendations from family and friends where possible. Word of mouth testimonials are best, as you can be sure they’re an honest reflection of the service provided.

There are private, independent agencies and larger agencies that are operated nationwide. You might prefer to deal with someone ‘small and friendly’ or go with a bigger agency with a greater infrastructure.

Your decision may also be based on cost.

Some agencies are more expensive than others. Find out as much information as you can before you set up meetings with the agencies you eventually shortlist. From here you should be able to make a final decision.

If you are stuck your GP, healthcare professional, social worker or current care company may be able to recommend someone.

Here is a short video that explains the costs associated with live in care.

2/ Make a list of your criteria

Knowing what you want (and why) is very important as you begin the selection process. Questions to ask yourself include:

–    What type of person would I get on well with?

–    Would I be more comfortable with a male or female carer?

–    Does age matter?

–    What type of experience will they need?

–    Are specific skills required? You may need a specialist carer

–    What are your interests and ideals? Ideally they will be interested in the same things as you

–    Is there a religious element? You may need someone who is of the same religion as you

–    If you are a couple, how can you find a happy medium between your individual wants and needs?

–    Do you need someone with a car and driving licence?

–    Are there any personality traits you dislike? Whether don’t like loud people or want someone outgoing, it’s a good idea to say so now. Make a list of negative and positive points

Remember when considering the above that this person is going to be living with you, in your home. You need to be able to get on with them and cohabitate with them. It’s incredibly important to be sure on what you want (and don’t want) before the process begins.

3/ Prepare for interviews and meetings

Agencies will offer you meetings with prospective carers so that you can make a decision.

These tend to be informal, not interview-style, but they’re an opportunity to ask questions and get to know the person. Prepare some key questions to ask before the interview. Most of the time you’ll get a feel for whether you’ll work well with the person just through speaking with them, but these questions help you to get a clearer idea of the support they’ll provide.

After all, you need to get on but they also need to be able to do the job properly.

4/ Make a shortlist

Once you’ve met all prospective carers you can make a shortlist. If you’re unsure you can ask friends, family and even the agency for their opinion.

Most often you will have a feel for the person you like the most – you should go with your gut and focus on selecting someone that suits you.

5/ Discuss with family and friends

For additional support you can discuss the selection process with trusted friends and family.

They may be able to offer impartial guidance and insights you might not have thought about.

This person is going to be living with you and looking after you in the long term, so it’s important to get it right.

Bear in mind that with an agency you get the added back up of them replacing your carer if things don’t work out. This should provide you with the peace of mind and confidence to proceed with the person you choose.

How to choose a live in carer independently

Choosing a live in carer independently gives you greater freedom and flexibility. It can be challenging however. You will need to be properly prepared to take care of the entire process yourself. This includes locating prospective carers to interview.

Bear in mind that you will also need to put together some infrastructure to protect you and your carer – and arrange legal agreements to ensure that your contract is watertight.

Documents should cover procedures, costs, holiday allowance and more. This is a business relationship, despite the nature of the service provided.

If you’re happy to manage the process on your own there are a few key steps you should take to ensure that you find someone who is the right fit for you.

1/ Consider your criteria

It’s important to begin with your individual criteria. Everyone is different – and as this person is going to be living with you it’s essential to find a perfect fit. See above for a comprehensive list of questions to ask.

2/ Advertise

Begin your search by advertising. Come up with a concise advert that explains your key criteria clearly. Include contact details and details of how you’d like them to get in touch.

Where you advertise is as important and how you advertise – choose publications that are likely to be read by caregivers. You should also explore online options. If you are struggling ask a family member or friend to help you.

You may like to advertise for two people, so that each carer can have days off and you are covered in the event of illness or holidays.

3/ Prepare for interviews

The interview process is crucial – as you will be responsible for arranging and managing each meeting. This is going to be the most significant stage in the selection process. A few things to consider include:

–    Where will the interview be held?

–    How long will each interview take?

–    Which questions will you ask?

–    How will you end the interview?

You will probably get a ‘gut feeling’ when you meet each candidate. This will help you to decide if you can get on and live with them – but you also need to know that they can deliver the standard of care you require.

References are essential – you should ask for at least three and follow up with them immediately post-interview to get a clear and honest view of their abilities. Past experience is also important – ask them which similar roles they have occupied and how they made a difference.

4/ Make a shortlist

Once you’ve been through the interview stage it’s time to make a shortlist.

Think carefully about each candidate and where necessary ask relatives, friends and healthcare professionals to help you. Be sure to check credentials, qualifications and insurance.

You may find that the initial interviews don’t produce the ideal candidate. In this case you’ll need to repeat the process until you are able to make a decent shortlist – or decide straight away which person will be best for you.

5/ Set up a trial

Trial or probationary periods are important, as this allows you some time to get to know each other and see whether the situation works well. This time period is without obligation – so if either party finds it isn’t suitable they can cancel the agreement without penalty.

At this stage it’s important to have everything properly arranged and written up to protect both parties legally. During this time you should also look into an agreement and structure that suits you primarily but also the caregiver.

Where can I get additional advice and support on live in care?

For more information and guidance you can browse our collection of easy-read articles designed to help you make sounds decisions about your care. For tailored advice you can also speak to your healthcare professional or social worker, or visit a charity such as Age UK for guidance.

Some more useful videos to help you

Here is a short video that explains the advantages of Live in Care.

Here is a short video that looks at the disadvantages of Live in Care.

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Do you know you might be entitled to financial help towards your live in care costs? 

Call us, in conjunction with Elder.org, for some free help and guidance.

Call - 0330 1345 958

Are you you looking at Live in Care? Get free guidance and help.  Call 0330 1345 958 and speak to someone that can answer your questions and also tell you if you can get financial help towards the costs of care.