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How to become a self-employed paid carer

Posted on 23/04/2014

If you work in the care sector already, or would like to, and you are considering setting up on your own as a self-employed carer, then there are plenty of things that need to be taken into consideration, as well as legal requirements.

A paid carer who works for themselves has complete control over their workload and finances, making it a very flexible option over being employed, so it is no wonder that this is a path that many paid carers are choosing to take. There are various pros and cons to being a self-employed paid carer, but if you have made the decision that it is right for you, then here are our tips for getting started.

1. Register as self-employed

You need to let HMRC know that you are self-employed. This is a straightforward process, but make sure that it is done before you start working. You will then need to arrange to pay your own taxes through self-assessment, and also your own National Insurance contributions.

2. Write a business plan

Know what you want to achieve from your new venture by writing a business plan. This doesn't need to be overly long or complex, but you will need to cover the basics, like your company name, what your business will provide, who your target clients will be, how you plan on getting clients and your main goals and how you plan to achieve them.

3. Get insured 

You will need to have Public Liability Insurance if you are working self-employed with clients. There are various insurance companies that offer comprehensive insurance packages specifically designed to cover all circumstances that a paid carer might come across, so research the best packages for you and your budget.

4. Have the right policies and procedures in place

There are various policies, procedures and forms that you should have in place to help your business run smoothly, and to ensure that both you and your clients know exactly what to expect from each other. You can see a list of the policies and procedures that we recommend here.

5. Market your services

When it comes to actually finding clients, there are plenty of methods that you can try and they don’t need to cost the earth. Word of mouth is a powerful tool, so if you have provided care and support to people in the past, then ask them or their families to spread the word for you. There are loads of tips and tricks for marketing yourself as a paid carer here.

6. Interview clients

When potential clients contact you and ask to meet you, remember that you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. You want to build up a good relationship with your clients so that they are comfortable with you while you look after their needs. You also need to make sure that you are happy with the environment that you will be working in, and whether they are going to pay you on time, every time.

7. Discuss absences with your clients

You are likely to want to take holiday at some point, or there might be occasions when you find yourself too sick to work, so this is something that you need to discuss with your potential client. Ask them what support they can call upon if you can’t turn up for any reason – do they have family nearby that they can phone, for example?

8. Work out your hourly rate

When you have a potential client, find out exactly what the job entails and what the hours are. You then need to work out any admin involved in the job outside of client hours and travelling time to and from your place of work. You will need to factor this into your hourly rate so that you don’t end up selling yourself short. Don’t forget that you won’t get paid for holidays or sickness, so you need to ensure that this is taken into consideration as well. There is a handy salary wizard here to help you figure out what you will be earning. If you want to manage your costs in more details, have a look at this handy budget template and 'Making your care business pay' booklet

9. Know who is paying you

Some clients will pay for you out of their own money, which means that you will need to arrange a payment method with them that suits you both and send them a regular invoice for your fee. However, many clients will be supported by their local authority (LA), which means that you might get paid directly by the LA or you might still get paid by the client, who receives the money from the LA. You can see more about this here.

10. Make sure you have a contract in place

You will need to have an agreement that covers everything that your employer expects of you and everything that you are going to provide. This should ensure that you are not asked to do anything that you are not comfortable with as the terms are agreed before you start working. You can get a self-employed paid carers contract from our Document Store. 

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