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What happens when your carer is absent for illness or holiday?

Posted on 10/06/2016

When you or a loved one relies on a carer to help with your day-to-day needs, it can be quite scary to think about them not being there. It pays to have a plan in place that covers illness, holiday or any other absence, whether unexpected or planned.

It is important that everyone involved in a care situation is aware of the ‘back up’ plan – the cared-for person should know so that they are not surprised or worried when their usual carer is not available. They should also know who to call if their carer doesn’t turn up when they should and they need help. 

If your care is provided by your local authority and they take care of the payments for you, then it is likely that they will use an agency to supply you with your carer. In this case, the agency is responsible for making sure that a carer is sent to you as and when expected. This means that although you may not know the carer who you get at your home, you will get your needs met. Ask the agency to phone you in advance of any changes for whatever reason, so that you are aware that someone different will be coming to help you. Always have the agency number to hand so that you can call them if your carer doesn’t turn up. Things like illness can be unexpected, so you may not find out until the day, but if your usual carer has a planned holiday, then you should have this information in advance.

If you get a personal budget from your local authority, or you self-fund your care, then it will depend on the type of care that you receive. If you contract with an agency or care company, then the same advice as above applies to you.

However, you may have an individual paid carer who comes to your home and who you pay directly. Cover for holidays and sickness depends on their employment status. If you have hired your own paid carer, then they will be entitled to statutory sick pay and holiday pay, which means that you need to ensure that they are paid correctly for any time off. You can write into their contract a notice period for holidays, so that you have the time to ensure that their absence is covered. If you contract with a self-employed paid carer, they are not able to send someone in to replace them if they are on holiday or ill, unless they run a care business with staff and are registered with the CQC, so again in most cases you would likely have to make your own arrangements.  

It is worth knowing the numbers of some local agencies who are able to provide short-term emergency care, so that you can phone them to cover the week or two that your carer is on holiday or on the day if they are suddenly off sick. Or you may have friends or relatives who you can call upon at short notice. Ask around and have a list pinned to the fridge of who would be available and their numbers, so that you can make quick arrangements as needed.

If your carer is a family member and they fall ill or need time out for a break, then your first port of call should be to your local authority to find out about respite care or an urgent care package to cover your needs. The council should assess your situation and help you come up with a care package that suits you and your family member. It is not always an easy task to get what you need – this article on the Community Care website is a good case study of this situation and how not giving up can ensure you get a personalised package that suits you.  

Visit our Service Users section for information on all aspects of getting the right care and support for you, as well as advice on different situations that you might come up against. 

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