Guidance on engaging a care provider

This guidance is designed to help people who are purchasing their own care and / or support, either using their own funding or using a Personal Budget.

As well as this guidance, help and advice is available from:

  • Norfolk County Council – including lists of accredited providers.
  • Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People (now known as Equal Lives) – an independent advice and support service helping people to live independently.
  • The Care Quality Commission – their website includes details of questions to ask care providers and reports on all regulated care providers.

This guidance explains some of the different ways you could choose to engage a care worker:

  • With a care agency, where the worker who provides your care is employed by the care agency.
  • Through a care agency, but where the worker is ‘introduced’ by the care agency and not necessarily employed by them.
  • An independent care worker – this includes employing your own care worker and using someone who is self employed as your carer.

The aim of the checklist is to help ensure that people who are purchasing their own care and/or support are clear about their responsibilities, those of any care agency or individual providing care and those of the local authority.

Ensuring that there is:

  • Sensible risk assessment and management; and
  • Clarity about the expectations and responsibilities of everyone involved,

Consideration of these points means that the arrangements people make for their care and / or support have the best chance of being successful and safe.

Using an agency

You could choose to ask a care agency to arrange the service you need. This means they will employ the workers who provide you with care and support.

If the workers are providing personal care or nursing care then they would be regulated by the Care Quality Commission and the agency must be registered.

Checks when using an agency

When using an agency you can expect the agency to be responsible for certain things but you should check with the agency that this is the case. The following is a list of some of the things you can expect of the agency:

  • It has public liability insurance and employer’s liability insurance in place.
  • It makes sure its workers are appropriately trained to provide the care and support you need.
  • It arranges cover for if its workers if they are absent.
  • It undertakes a safe recruitment process of its workers. You should check to see if the workers supplied have references, enhanced CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) checks and ISA First (Independent Safeguarding Authority) checks. If there are children in your house you would need to make sure these checks relate to the workers working with children.
  • It supervises its workers and if necessary, disciplines them. If you have concerns about the performance or conduct of the worker you should be able to speak to the agency about this.
  • It undertakes risk assessments to make sure that working conditions are safe for its workers.

There should be a “contract for services” between you and the agency. You are engaging the agency to provide you with a service and should be able to specify the requirements.

It should include things like how much the service will cost, what the arrangements are for increasing costs, when they will come and support you, how much notice you would give to end the service and other terms. You should make sure you understand and agree to the terms of the contract before you start using the agency.

If the agency is regulated with the Care Quality Commission then it will have responsibilities and standards that it must follow as part of its registration. The agency will also be inspected by the Care Quality Commission and you could ask to see a copy of the latest inspection report.

Employing your own care worker

These are some of the ways that you may employ your own care worker:

Through a care agency – an ‘introduced’ care worker

You could choose to ask a care agency to ‘introduce’ a care worker to you, who will provide the service you need. This may mean that you become the employer of the care worker.

It is very important that the care agency explains to you what the employment situation of the care worker is. You must find out if you are going to be the employer.

This type of care service is not regulated by the Care Quality Commission.

Through advertising to find someone privately

You could choose to employ someone privately by advertising or through someone you know to provide the service you need.

This type of care service is not regulated by the Care Quality Commission.

Checks for employment

As the employer you would be responsible for the following:

  • Designing the job and making sure the person is appropriate
  • Appointing the person – making a job offer
  • Undertaking appropriate safe recruitment processes – e.g. references, CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) checks
  • Making sure you have cover and back-up arrangements – to cover sickness and holidays
  • Taking out employer’s liability and public liability insurance
  • Ensuring your employee is appropriately trained
  • Directing your employee and making sure s/he knows what s/he is supposed to do and how and when s/he is supposed to do it
  • Supervising and appraising your employee
  • Disciplining your employee if necessary
  • Agreeing the terms of the employment contract and providing a written statement of particulars within a certain time period
  • Providing any necessary equipment for your employee to do her/his job
  • The health and safety of your employee and undertaking any appropriate risk assessments
  • Making sure you follow employment law.

Other areas to consider with employment

The checklist above is not exhaustive, for example, as an employer you would also need to ensure you pay your employees at least the minimum wage, pay tax and NI, provide annual leave, do not discriminate unfairly, etc.

Equal Lives provides advice to people on becoming an employer, finding staff and being a good employer. Contact Equal Lives on 01508 491210 or go online: www.equallives.org.uk

Using a self-employed worker

These are some of the ways that you may engage a self-employed worker:

Through a care agency – an ‘introduced’ care worker

You could choose to ask a care agency to ‘introduce’ a care worker to you, who will provide the service you need. This may mean that the care worker could be operating on a ‘self employed’ basis.

It is very important that the care agency explains to you what the employment situation of the care worker is. You must find out if you are going to be the employer.

This type of care service is not regulated by the Care Quality Commission.

Through advertising or finding someone privately

You could choose to engage someone privately to provide the service you need – without going through an agency or other third party. The worker may tell you that s/he is self-employed.

This type of care service is not regulated by the Care Quality Commission.

Checks for self-employment

The self-employed person would be responsible for ensuring that they have public liability insurance in place, are trained, bring their own equipment, and arrange cover in their absence. You should ask the person about these things and ask to see their certificate of insurance.

Self-employed people can register with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) – you should ask to see their registration document.

There should be a “contract for services”. It can be helpful to think about the relationship you would have with a plumber or builder. You are engaging someone’s services and should be able to specify your requirements.

The contract should include things like how much the service will cost, what the arrangements are for increasing costs, when they will come and support you, how much notice you would give to end the service and other terms. You should make sure you understand and agree with the terms of the contract before you start using the person.

Possible risks in engaging a self employed care worker

There is a risk that a court or tribunal may decide that worker was not self-employed and that you are in fact responsible as their employer. If this happens you may find yourself responsible for any tax or national insurance that should have been deducted. The more specific your requirements and the more control you have over the arrangements, the more likely that you are actually the employer.

Many people will say they are self employed but it is up to you to decide if they are with you

It is best to treat someone as your employee until you are sure of their employment status

If you are at all unsure, make sure you get advice

It is really important that you or your advocate determine the employment status of any care worker or personal assistant that you intend to engage.

Good guidance on employment status is available from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/employment-status/index.htm and in the leaflet ‘Employed or self employed for tax and national insurance contributions’ (see http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/leaflets/es-fs1.pdf)

 

This page was last updated on 22 March 2018