What is an introductory agency?
You don’t have to go through a fully serviced agency if you’re considering home care or live-in care. Some organisations instead act as an ‘introductory agency’ (or matching service) and will introduce carers to the people who need them.
A private introductory agency can help you find and recruit a suitable carer or personal care assistant. They can also sometimes help source a replacement or substitute carer as required.
What does an introductory agency offer?
Introductory agencies recruit home carers, do background checks and provide training. But although carers are trained by introductory agencies, they won’t be under the direct supervision of the company. Instead, the carer works on a self-employed basis, and handles their own tax and National Insurance contributions. They may be registered with a number of introductory agencies.
The family or person receiving the care is legally involved in a direct contract with the carer. They are directly responsible for paying the carer, rather than the agency. Read our guide on how to employ private carers for more information.
Benefits of using an introductory agency
- Using an introductory agency will give you access to carers that have been pre-approved by the organisation. They will match you with a professional who will be most suitable for your situation. All the carers are vetted (background and criminal record checks) and trained so you can be sure they can deliver a certain standard of care.
- Introductory agencies are usually cheaper than going through a live-in care agency, so could be a good option if you’re happy to take a more hands-on approach to organising care. If you’re willing to directly manage the carer, you may be able to save money.
- Some people find organising care this way gives them more choice and flexibility. For instance, you get to choose what to prioritise in a care plan and who you’d like to employ.
Disadvantages of using an introductory agency
Going through an introductory agency may be cheaper and give you more control over how care is delivered for you or a loved one, but there are also some disadvantages.
- These agencies are not registered with a healthcare regulatory body, such as the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in England. This means that the carers you’re introduced to are not required to meet certain standards or be regularly inspected, unlike those registered with a fully managed care agency. One exception is introductory agencies who offer live-in nursing, which does fall under the CQC’s remit.
- Using an introductory agency to find a carer will involve more admin than using a fully managed agency. You’ll take on the responsibilities of an employer and will directly pay the carer. So you’ll need to think about salary, sickness and holiday pay, pension and liability insurance.
- If the carer decides to leave suddenly, you may be responsible for finding a replacement. Although some introductory agencies will help with this task.
What are care service brokers?
Sorting out home care can be overwhelming and feel like a bit of a minefield if you’re just starting to look into the different options. But you can pay someone to help you find and arrange your own care services.
A broker can help you find the right care options, make arrangements on your behalf and assist with employment issues. They act as an intermediary to arrange the support you need.
They can advise on:
- home care services
- equipment for your home
- legal services
- how to best manage your care budget.
If you receive funding from your local authority, you shouldn’t have to pay to use a brokerage service. But if you're paying for your own care (a self-funder), you usually would have to pay for a brokerage service.
Your local authority may be able to recommend a nearby brokerage service.
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