Would becoming a self-employed carer be the right career path for you? If you are interested in holding a job that is at times tough, but emotionally rewarding, being a carer may be just the ticket. If you are already a carer, you may want to take matters into your own hands and give it a go being self-employed. Being self-employed will grant you the benefit of working on a schedule that suits you and allows you to be your own boss. There are a few legalities and organisational aspects to keep in mind if you are thinking of pursuing this potential endeavour.
How to care
Self employed or not, it is first essential to make sure you fit the requirements for the role. Character wise, you will need to ensure you fit the following:
- The ability to remain calm in potentially stressful scenarios
- Proficient in communication
- Ability to adapt to different types of people from different backgrounds
Being a carer means each day will be different. Depending on your client you may be asked to perform an array of tasks of different skill levels. These can range from meal prep, to feeding, and cleaning. These are just the physical aspects of the job. You will also have to perform emotional labours, looking after vulnerable peoples and communicating with their families and other healthcare workers in order to ensure the wellbeing of your client.
Legalities and Pointers
It’s never quite as simple as just changing jobs when you choose the self-employed route. There are a few legal processes you must complete in order to attain the title, as well as legal aspects of care you must conform to.
- Register as self-employed with the tax office– This can be done at this site: https://www.gov.uk/topic/business-tax/self-employed
- Get organised– to be self-employed requires being on top of planning and organising your own time in order to achieve success. Research the sector you are entering to see what you need. Will you provide care under a business name? Do you have a list of potential ways to attract clients? Getting on top of this is the first step before getting the ball rolling. Make a business plan, talk to industry professionals who have experience in the field. No one will know better than someone who has actually done it.
- Get insured-When starting and self-employed business you must make sure you are covered legally. It is vital to attain Carer Liability Insurance. This will ensure that you are safeguarded in event of any incident or claims against you, whether it is accidental damage to property or bodily damage.
- Contact a lawyer to help write contracts– It is worth investing in a lawyer’s time to help you present a dummy contract to potential clients. This way you can ensure you are legally covered in events in conjunction with your Carer Liability Insurance. This contract should stipulate your duty of care and extent to what you will provide as well as protecting you in the event of any incident. The contract should also establish your hourly/daily rates and flexibilities. It is important to be upfront with any limitations your time and duty of care as to keep your client pleased.
- Sell yourself– Take to the advertising boards and social media groups to get yourself seen. Find what sets you out from the rest- what are your strengths and abilities? Why should you be chosen over the next carer?
- Make sure the client is right for you– It is all well and good when you are contacted by a potential client, but do not be too quick to take up just any offer. It is important to allow yourself time and assessment to decide if a client is the right fit.
What qualifications do I need to be a carer?
It may surprise you to know that you do not legally have to have any qualifications to become a carer…but it helps. People are far more likely to hire you as a carer if you show a dedication, most obviously in the form of a qualification that highlights you as a safe and considerate option for them. To ensure your excellence, you can achieve an NVQ at various levels of care. You may also want to attain a Care Certificate by doing a Care certificate Course. Specific courses such as Caring for Care give you a qualification that meets CQC standards and offers some of, but not limited to, the following:
- Autism Awareness
- Basic Life Support
- Dementia Awareness
- Dignity In Care
- Epilepsy Awareness
- Equality & Diversity Awareness
- Managing Challenging Behaviour Training
- Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults and Children
It may also be advisable to seek some volunteer work to get some on the job experience both for your own learning as well as showing potential clients that you have some previous involvement in the field.
Setting up the business
It is a reasonably simple task to set up a business however there are some legalities and decision-making processes that will determine the structure of your company, and how you will be paid/how much you will be paid.
Would you like to be a sole trader or a limited company? The practicalities of this differentiation are reasonably similar, but the taxes and legalities differ between these options. Being a sole trader allows you to take home all the profits of the business after tax, whereas a limited company will separate your personal finances from the business. It is advisable to seek legal advice on which is the best option for yourself.
It is your obligation to pay your national insurance and taxes by going to the HMRC website to complete the necessary self-assessment forms at the end of each financial year. As a self-employed worker you will not be given any sick pay (or holiday) so be sure to add these calculations into your business plan to avoid being out of pocket.
How much money will I make as a carer?
Theoretically, as a self-employed carer you can set your own rate of pay. However, it is advisable to do research on other pricing in the market and adjust your rates accordingly. This is especially crucial if you are only just starting care work, as inexperienced workers will often charge far less than those with years of it under their belt. Hourly rates can differ as a carer, earning anywhere between £17,000 to £25,000 per annum. When setting your own rates do not forget to account for the other expenditures and limitations involved in working under your own employ, as these sums can add up and should be worked into the way you price your time.
Further Policy Advice
When creating your contracts and maintain your own books it is a good idea to set up some formalities to legitimise your business. The following are advised:
- A record of risk assessments taken
- Complaints procedures
- A safeguarding policy and duty of care policy
Having these in place will show your potential client that you are an organised fully formed business that takes itself very seriously.
It is also advisable to carry out a DBS check on yourself and obtain a certificate to show clients. You will only be able to attain a basic level DBS check which shows that you have no unspent criminal convictions etc. but upon request, your client can legally ask for a full DBS check on you if they so choose.
Is being self-employed the right choice for you?
You may feel passionately about care work, but it is necessary to assess whether being your own boss and investing your time and finances into self-employed care is the right route for you to go down.
Things to consider:
Have you just started care work?- if you have, it may be advisable to first get a few years of care experience behind you to legitimise your abilities and better set yourself up as a potential candidate for caring. People appreciate experience and qualifications more than they can trust your word or a kind face.
Have you got plenty of experience? If you have been working for years as a carer and feel like you have the knack and drive to become self-employed, go for it! Capitalise on your skills and take control of your abilities and earn for yourself. This will also let you be more specific with the clients you choose and allow you to create and sustain yourself in environments that aren’t forced on you when obtaining work through care agencies.
How do I get clients?
Arguably, the hardest aspect of self-employment is where to find the work you desire. This is often where a little more experience helps. If you can find your first few clients through people you know, you can get the ball rolling much quicker. People are more likely to trust recommendations from friends, family and former colleagues before picking a carer at random of an internet site.
If you don’t have this history and resources, fret not! There are a few different options to choose from:
- Agencies– there are many recruitment agencies that you can act through who will obtain clients with reasonable ease for you. The con of this is you will end up paying commission to these agents, meaning you will be eating into your potential profits. This will also increase the amount of bookkeeping you will have to do. This will end up eating into your time, which is often one of the motivations to go self-employed in the first place.
- Curam– essentially one of these agencies, Curam is specifically designed as a community for carers, as a way to help them find work. They host job boards for easy posting and application. They offer low commission fees that will undercut agency fees. Their specialisation in this sector makes them the best choice for any commission based help needed. There is no subscription or sign up fees either. You can find more information on their website www.curamcare.com
- Indeed– Indeed and other job posting sites will have people advertising for care they need. By contacting these people directly you can sell yourself and show them your qualifications in order to win them over.
- Facebook– Social media is a playground for all sorts of business ventures. You can set up pages for your business in order to attract attention. This will require regular posting updates and an aesthetically pleasing and inviting homepage in order to maximise interaction. Facebook can also be utilised for its group functions. Posting in care groups will allow you to enter a community in which people help each other find work or offer suggestions for self-employed carers in ways of maximising their visibility.
Think about your own time
Becoming self-employed has its benefits and its setbacks. Oftentimes people seek self-employment to give them more control over their own schedule. However, the demands of running your own business or money-making ventures can often end up blurring personal time with work time and can leave you working harder, for less pay, than you were before pursuing your own goals.
Being a care worker is a physically and mentally demanding job. It is an easy career to burnout in, so it is important to take time for yourself and ensure you are looking after your wellbeing as well as those you are working for. This is an extra point of care when you are attempting to run the operation by yourself. You must ensure that you are in a place to take on these extra responsibilities whilst still maintaining a good service for your clients and retaining some time for your personal life.
The path to success
If you follow the advice above, you should be able to achieve a successful career as a self-employed carer/care assistant. Once your business grows you may want to expand and increase the size of your busines and have people work under you. If doing so you must consider the legalities of this too. If a self-employed person takes on any extra staff, they are required to register with the Care Quality Commission if they are set to provide any personal care. This excludes any employees who are not related to the actual act of caring, but solely to those dealing directly with the care of the clients.