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3 How does live-in care work?

You can organise live-in care:

  • Privately, through your own advertising, in which case you or your relative would be the employer and responsible for paying the careworkers' tax and NI contributions as well as their wages (for more information, see Employing private individuals).
  • Through an introductory agency, where careworkers are self-employed and you or your relative manage and pay for their services directly. Most careworkers from introductory agencies are responsible for paying their own tax and NI contributions.
  • Via a company that employs its careworkers and manages the service for you. With this arrangement, the provider employs and trains the careworkers, finding replacements for cover periods. This service is particularly valuable for families who live far from their relative or who have other major demands on their time. 

Both introductory agencies and managed services are also likely to be able to choose from a wider pool of careworkers, possibly choosing someone with similar interests to your relative so they are more likely to get on. They will also have a team on call around the clock to support both clients and careworkers alike.

Live-in carers need their own space

The live-in carer must have their own bedroom with a television and internet access. They will be required to have a space they can call their own and where they can escape the inevitable stresses of the role and have some time to themselves.

The length of time that a live-in carer works at any one time varies depending on the type of service your relative chooses. Some providers work on a rota of teams of two providing care on a four days on and three days off basis, others one week on and one week off. If your relative is employing careworkers privately, he or she can choose to organise a rota that suits everyone the best.

It is vital that you brief the careworkers if your relative has particular conditions like dementia, Parkinson’s, has suffered a stroke, MS or needs other specialist care. A good agency and managed service will organise for a manager to fully assess the needs of your relative and support the family with choosing the careworkers – see Choosing a home care agency and Questions to ask a home care agency for more information.