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Introductory care agencies and service brokers

Introduction agencies introduce carers to older people. Training and background checks are provided, but you employ the carer directly.
4 min read
In this article
What is an introductory care agency? What does an introductory agency offer? Benefits of using an introductory agency
Disadvantages of an introductory agency What is a care service broker? Domiciliary care agencies

What is an introductory care 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. 

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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

Checklist (ticks)
  • 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 expect them to deliver a certain standard of care.
  • Introductory agencies are usually cheaper than going through a domiciliary care agency, so could be a good option if you’re happy to take a more hands-on approach. 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.
Use our calculator to find out how much you might pay a home care agency in your area and what financial support is available.

Disadvantages of 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.

Checklist (crosses)
  • These agencies are not registered with a 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 service. You’ll will directly pay the carer and you may take on the responsibilities of an employer. 
  • If the carer decides to leave suddenly, you may be responsible for finding a replacement. Although some introductory agencies will help with this task.

Read more about the pros and cons of using private carers:

What is a care service broker?

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 local brokerage service. 

Domiciliary care agencies

If you decide that you don’t wish to take on the responsibility for finding and employing carers directly, use our Care Services Directory to search for fully regulated home care agencies in your area. Home care agencies (or domiciliary care agencies) manage the entire care service and will employ the professional carers. 

Home care near you
Use our directory to find local home care agencies anywhere across the UK.

Further reading

Paying for home care

We explain the options for paying for care at home, from local authority support to paying for it yourself.

Last updated: 29 Jul 2020