What is live-in care?
Live-in care is when a professional carer lives in their client’s home to enable their needs to be met. This means they are available to help throughout the day and at night, if necessary – although they are obviously entitled to breaks by law. Some carers live in all the time, while others work a rota pattern of, for example, two weeks on, two weeks off.
Live-in care is an increasingly popular alternative to moving into a care home. It enables you to stay in your own home and meet your changing needs. For some people it offers a way of continuing to live as independently as possible at home in their local community.
Mum liked the fact that someone would bring her a cup of tea in the morning, check she was all right and ask if she wanted any breakfast.
Who might be suited to live-in care?
Live-in care might suit you if you need help with:
- personal care, such as washing and dressing
- taking medication when other aids aren’t effective
- support to manage the risk of falls and other risks at home
- caring for a pet
- trips out, such as to the doctor or hairdresser
- continuing to enjoy lifelong hobbies.
This option is also attractive to people who may become confused by a new environment and find it difficult to adapt to change. This particularly applies to people living with dementia, where continuity, routine and familiar surroundings are very reassuring, important and improve quality of life. Live-in care also provides the supervision that someone living with dementia might need to keep them safe.
You may decide, too, that you only need a live-in carer for a short time, perhaps if you’re recovering from an illness or an operation.
If you’re still unsure whether live-in care would you suit you, our article on the pros and cons of having live-in carers helps you consider both sides.
How does live-in care work?
You can organise live-in care:
- Privately, through your own advertising, in which case you would be the employer and responsible for paying the Carers’ Tax and National Insurance contributions as well as their wages (for more information, see how to employ private carers).
- Through an introductory agency, where carers are self-employed and you manage and pay for their services directly. Most carers from introductory agencies are responsible for paying their own tax and NI contributions.
- Via a company that employs its carers and manages the service for you. With this arrangement, the provider employs and trains the carers, finding replacements for cover periods. This service is particularly valuable for people who informal caring network isn't close at hand.
Both introductory agencies and managed services are also likely to be able to choose from a wider pool of carers, possibly choosing someone with similar interests to your own so you’re more likely to get on. They will also have a team on call around the clock to support both clients and carers alike.
The length of time that a live-in carer works at any one time varies depending on the type of service you choose. Some providers work on a rota of teams of two providing care on a four days on, three days off basis, others one week on, one week off or even two weeks on, two weeks off. If you are employing carers privately, you can choose to organise a rota that suits everyone.
The big lesson for us was that you can't just pay the bill and forget about it; you've got to take an interest, get to know the carers as human beings.
It’s vital that the carers are well-briefed if you’re living with any conditions such as dementia, Parkinson’s, MS, if you’ve suffered a stroke or need other specialist care. A good agency and managed service will organise for a manager to fully assess your needs, and support you and your family with choosing the carers. We have more advice in our articles on choosing a home care agency and questions to ask a home care agency.
How do I choose a live-in care provider?
The home care filter of our care services directory includes information about live-in care providers around the UK, which you can search for via a postcode. However, many of the live-in care agencies operate from a head office and their local offices aren’t necessarily clearly signposted. For a list of live-in care companies that are members of the United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA), see their website. Another source to find selected live-in care providers around the UK is the Live-in Care Hub.
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