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What does it mean to be an 'individual employer' when buying your own care?

Posted on 25/08/2013

With personal budgets giving people the freedom to choose and purchase their own care and support, there has been a rise in the number of 'individual employers'. These are people who hire a paid carer, or a team of paid carers, to look after their needs. These paid carers can help with everything from housework to personal care, cooking to socialising, and it is a great solution for staying independent in your own home.

There are a lot of advantages to being able to handpick your care services in this way. You can opt to have paid carers come at any time and for any job, so you can schedule your day around the help you need. You can also build a relationship with your paid carer(s), sometimes also called personal assistants (PA), and you have the flexibility to decide on times and roles.

Unless you are using a self-employed paid carer, however, you will become an employer when you hire home help. This in itself comes with certain legal responsibilities, but this shouldn't be overwhelming once you get organised. We recently put together a guide with all the stages you need to go through to hire a paid carer, which will help you get started.

Once you have found the right person, and drawn up a contract, then you need to think about the day-to-day admin, This means keeping track of the hours that your paid carer(s) work, when they take holiday or sickness, and you'll need a way to pay them.

While this sounds like a lot of work, once you get used to doing it, it becomes a great deal easier. We have plenty of dedicated advice on employing a paid carer. Sometimes it can help to hear about how being an individual employer works in practice though, and there has recently been a great article in The Guardian about an inspirational woman called Abi Bubb, who hires a team of paid carers to help her with day-to-day needs.

Abi has a physical disability called arthrogryposis, which affects the muscles in her arms and legs. She employs a team of five paid carers who help her out up to four times a day on a rota basis. Abi was the Skills for Care's individual employer of the year 2012, for the way she manages her team. Her account is a fascinating read about the realities of being an individual employer and helps to dispel some of the myths about its complexity.

There is plenty of support for those who are looking at going down this path, including what is available on this website, but if you have any specific questions, then do drop us an email via our contact page

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