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How to choose a live in carer

Live in Care is increasingly becoming a popular option as people want to avoid the need to go in to a care home and instead in the comfortable surroundings of their own home.  In this guide we will:

  • outline the 3 main options you have to select a live in carer (source your own, live in care agencies or specialist recruitment agencies)
  • explain what live in care involves
  • explain who live in care may be suitable for
  • explain how you can use equity release to pay for your live in carer costs

A little background to live in care

When a requirement for care becomes apparent it can be stressful and upsetting to consider the options available – for the person in question and their loved ones. Where will they go? What will happen to them? How much will it cost? And will they have to leave the home they love?

This question is perhaps one of the most emotive – as many older people naturally want to remain at home.  This is why so many people are turning to live in care to help them stay in home.

Perhaps they currently live at home with a relative, partner or spouse – or have friends or social groups nearby that they enjoy attending. Familiar surroundings are important – as is close proximity to family and friends. Often, a requirement for care puts this natural, comfortable way of life in jeopardy – and raises a question mark over the possibility of remaining at home.

This is why 24 hour care is becoming an increasingly attractive option for older people needing round-the-clock assistance at home. For those who are keen to stay in their own home, it offers an important and viable lifeline that wasn’t previously an option. This hope eliminates a lot of the stressful uncertainty that comes with sourcing care – but it isn’t without difficulty and won’t be available or suitable for everyone.

As live-in care is a relatively new option, it’s important for individuals and their families to gain a proper understanding of what’s involved, who it is best suited for and how much it can cost.

There are three main options to consider when sourcing 24 hour care. Here we provide a brief overview of live-in care and explain what’s involved with each option, and how you can best use the information in this article to make a sound decision.

3 options to find a live in carer

1 – Sourcing a live in carer independently

Many families start by looking for private carers independently, as previously this was the only way to source 24 hour live-in home care provision. Ads can sometimes be placed in local papers or online directories, and carers can also be found through word of mouth recommendations.

Although this method allows you greater control, it is also very labour-intensive and time-consuming. It may take a while to find someone suitable – and once you do, you’ll need to interview them and ensure that they have been properly vetted and approved before they start working. You’ll also be responsible for paying their wages and arranging shifts and rotas.

For the person requiring care, it’s important to be comfortable with the process and ensure that it’s as stress-free as possible. Family members and friends will likely need to be involved to manage and support their loved one.

2 – Live in care agencies

There are now a number of specialist live-in care agencies that specialise solely in this area.  There are also broader home care agencies that also provide both short term and live in care options.  You can search for a agency in our home care agency directory.  

These live in care agencies have carefully vetted professionals on their books who can then be matched with suitable individuals. You will pay the agency, who then pays the carer a salary. This option is ideal for anyone who wants a zero-hassle, fully managed relationship with the carer, in which all financial aspects and rota development is taken care of externally.

Certain live in care agencies specialise in particular areas– for example, one may only deal with nursing or dementia care, where another arranges companionship and lower level care support.

3 – Specialised live-in carer recruitment agencies

The third and final option involves approaching specialised recruitment agencies that deal specifically with experienced live-in carers.

They source and match professionals based on the criteria you provide. The main difference between recruitment or introduction agencies and live-in care agencies is that in this instance professionals operate in a standalone capacity – and are self-employed.

This may be better from a financial perspective for them and for you – and cuts out the larger percentage an agency may take. Flexibility may also be greater in this situation, as you’ll liaise directly with the carer regarding hours and payment. The agency should take the time to listen to you and build a profile based on your needs and personal preferences before presenting a number of suitable candidates.

What does live-in care involve?

24 hour Live-in care provides a flexible opportunity for people who need specialist assistance every day. Where previously it was only possible to access certain types of care in residential facilities, remaining at home instead is now an option. Care is administered by experienced professionals who live with the person needing care – normally the responsibility is shared between two carers to allow for suitable shifts, days off and holidays. Varying levels of care are available – and in some cases nursing care is offered depending on the facilities and suitability of the home environment. Care can range from companionship and specialist care to 24-hour round the clock nursing support.

Who is live-in care suited to?

As the nature of live-in home care available varies greatly, it’s a surprisingly versatile option even for individuals with quite intensive care needs. It has diversified greatly over the years, meaning there are now different types and levels of live-in care available to suit a range of conditions and situations.

This ensures that live-in home care can be a viable option for many more people than it has been in the past. There are however some situations when live-in care isn’t suitable. Certain long- or short-term conditions and illnesses may need specialist equipment for example, or limited mobility could mean that your property is no longer safe for you to live in.

This will depend on the severity of your condition of course and long-term prognosis – as live-in care can work well either as an interim or indefinite solution. It’s worth noting that live-in care can be a comparatively costly option due to the long hours involved – and as you’re living at home you won’t be able to rent or sell it in order to pay for care.

Live in carer costs

Live in carer costs can be £500 per week upwards.  This can obviously be a sizeable financial commitment.  You can read more about the different funding options in our paying for care section of the site.  However, in our experience, the most popular way for those who own their own property is equity release.   They find that their live in carer costs can be met this way.  You can read our guide which explains how equity release to get a better understanding of it.  However, in essence it will allow you to take a tax-free cash lump against the value of your house and the amount is normally only repaid on death or when you move to a care home.  

There are also circumstances where the NHS is responsible for meeting your care costs.  This is a complicated area and known as NHS continued care funding.  You can read more about it here and see if if your live in carer costs can be met this way. 

What are the benefits of live-in care?

The primary benefit of live-in home care is that it allows you to stay in your own home for longer – or perhaps without the need for residential care at all, depending on prognosis. This is preferable for people who feel comfortable and happy in their surroundings – especially when a property is shared with a family member or spouse.

Live-in home care also generally offers a higher standard of care provision, as the care administered is more personal and carers have plenty of time to be attentive and listen to and understand your needs. Over time you’ll develop a relationship with your carer or carers, which is often preferable to dealing with lots of different people. As a couple it may also be better (and cheaper) to access care together at home as opposed to separately in a nursing or residential facility.

Read about why you need a Lasting Power of Attorney made straight away

Read about why you should make a Will straight away

See if the NHS is responsible for paying for your care

If you would like help in finding a live in carer, leave your details below and we can help you find someone.  We provide this service at no cost.