This week we are continuing our focus on care- following on from our previous post regarding Direct Payments and the financial and administrative responsibilities that accompany them.
So now that you’ve settled for Direct Payments, where do you go from here? We feel it’s appropriate to take a look at the preparations one might make when getting ready to take on a new carer in the home.
Paying directly for the services means one can be specific about the duties requested of the carer, and can also put the ‘authorised person’ in the ongoing position of employer. This means they must not only form an appropriate relationship with all professionals involved, but must also of hold the employee to the agreed standard of care- which can become complex if not clearly defined from the outset.
The first task should be to write up a clear, concise list of the services needed- in line with the recently completed Care Assessment. This should include details of the tasks that will need carrying out, the assistance that will be needed, and a rough schedule for the carer to work to. Having this document will allow you to start building a profile of the ideal candidate, and pinpoint specifics of the role such as working hours and any additional skills or qualifications needed (e.g. driving license).
If you are working with an agency, such as ourselves, they will match up these requirements with the most appropriate member of staff available to them to ensure a great match. They will also have the benefit of a larger potential selection of staff to choose from, without the hours spent publicising it. If you choose to become an employer, or take on a self-employed carer, you should then make an action-plan for finding a carer. A large part of this may be spent advertising the role- and it’s important to choose the most effective platforms to do so in order to keep from wasting valuable time and effort. Some of the most visible and easily accessible mediums for advertising job roles include Gumtree, local noticeboards in community centres and shops, specific internet message boards for carers, Job Centres and online job-searching sites such as Indeed. Some of these are free of charge, but often paying a small fee will guarantee a higher level of visibility for your advert. Weigh up the costs and benefits of paid advertising- saving money in the short term may only serve to prolong your search.
Once you have received interest in the role, it will be up to you to decide on the specifics regarding rates of pay and how they fit into your Direct Payment budget. It may vary depending on the time and nature of the care needed, and must comply with minimum wage as set by the government. Do some research on similar positions and note what they provide- use these as a guide for your own decisions. Using a payroll service can take the complications out of arranging the tax and N.I contributions of your employee, and you can often find them locally. You should also make note of the professional requirements for any candidates that might qualify for the position, including the provision of references and proof of any relevant qualifications or training experience. You may choose to conduct interviews via phone, or even by informal meetings in public spaces- it’s up to you.
When you’ve found the ideal candidate, it is crucial that you write up a contract of employment- ensuring there’s enough copies for both parties. A written job description must be provided to the candidate within 2 months, but having a signed agreement detailing to refer to should provide peace of mind for both employer and carer.
Technically, this is not legally necessary, as a contract can be verbal and effectively in practice as soon as the paid work begins. But it is naive to assume that a spoken agreement can be relied upon if issues arise, and a signed copy of the contract is the most reliable source of information pertaining to the role, for all involved.
As an employee you have responsibilities to any workers you take on- to treat them with respect and to honour all agreements laid out in the contract. You also have the ability to terminate a worker’s employment if their performance is not up to the required standard- hence why it is so important to have a signed agreement containing details of the disciplinary, behavioral and notice-related procedures relevant. If you do not conduct yourself properly as an employer then you run the risk of being taken to court by an employee, and more importantly putting both the care-recipient or care-giver at risk.