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Freelance care workers – a pragmatic response?

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

Like thousands of other places, we have a neighbourhood website where we live and people use it for all sorts of things, including sourcing goods and services. Last week someone posted a notice asking if anyone was available to provide daily personal care (getting out of/into bed,washing, dressing and assistance with preparing meals) to an elderly lady who was about to be discharged from a nursing home. The duration of the service was expected to be about two weeks.

I am sure many of us would agree that this kind of arrangement has a lot of potential pitfalls; unregulated provision, untrained caregiver, no written contract, no public liability insurance, no DBS check, to list just a few of the more obvious ones.

But it can work very well, especially if family members are on hand to cover when the carer isn’t available, and I think we are going to see much more of these kind of arrangements because they are likely to be the cheapest option for those paying for the service. From the carer’s perspective, they get to choose their clients, and how many clients, and if it’s within a community, travel time and costs are minimal. A freelance can also earn more than if they were working for an agency, while charging the client less than an agency would.

And it’s legal; a care worker operating as a sole trader does not need to be CQC-registered; they just need to be registered with HMRC and have public liability insurance as is the case for any sole trader. A DBS check is desirable of course, but not mandatory.

Already we are seeing care homes using temporary recruitment apps to directly source registered nurses and bypass agencies. It is likely then, as demand for affordable care services increases, more people will use online platforms along the lines of ‘Checkatrade’ or community websites to source sole-trader care workers operating in their communities.

An increase in the number of freelance care workers can be seen as a pragmatic response to prevailing market conditions – I don’t see homecare agencies’ recruitment problems going away anytime soon.

  • The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.

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