Families looking for home care for a loved one have two basic options. Firstly, to go with an agency or corporate provider or secondly, to have no intermediary and work directly with a local carer.
It is true that some families work on a cash basis with carers but this is dangerous from a safeguarding and tax point of view. For the purpose of this blog we have assumed families are using the services of our Home Care Direct platform which ensures tax compliancy and also removes the need to become an employer.
Both options are valid and have their advantages and disadvantages. Here we explore both options under various headings, to see what option might be most suitable for families.
Effort and Time
Working with an agency means that you are outsourcing a lot of the work involved in managing your care and trusting them to provide the service that you need. Where an older person needing care doesn’t have family members to help them, an agency is probably their best option. Working directly with a carer does involve a certain level of management, even with the Home Care Direct platform, that they might not be capable of.
Because an agency has higher levels of overheads they need to charge more. Typically, an agency will charge about €27/hr while an individual carer will be around €20/hr. If you are getting say 20 hours of home care a week, that translates into a saving of nearly, €7,300 per year or an extra 7 hours of care per week.
This really is the foundation of great care, getting the same carer week in and week out. With an agency, the recruitment and retention of carers tends to be problematic because wages at around 12/hr are low. The majority of the €27/hr you pay them goes towards overheads and profits. This means that the likelihood is with an agency you will get a new carer every couple of months. Working directly with a carer means that the vast majority of what you are paying them goes directly to them. Presumably the rate you agreed with them is what they are satisfied with, which means they won’t be leaving in a few months to work elsewhere.
Both agencies and the Home Care Direct platform interview, reference check and Garda vet their carers, before they are allowed to work. This gives great comfort to families.
Generally, with an agency they will send you the carer that they have available at the times you need and that fits in with their scheduling parameters. It is generally too costly for them to give you the opportunity to pick and choose the carer you would like. When you work directly with a carer on the Home Care Direct platform, you browse carer profiles and get in contact directly with those that interest you. You make the choice of which carer is best suited to your needs.
While agencies have a certain level of flexibility, they do need to take into account their overall rosters and processes and work within them which may limit their room for manoeuvre. Working directly with a carer, you have full power over when and how care is delivered. You draw up the care plan directly with your carer.
Both agencies and working directly through the Home Care Direct platform, provide insurance cover to the levels requested by the HSE in their tender.
Quality of Service
Agencies provide periodic supervisions to ensure the quality of home care being provided. These supervisions are vitally important because unfortunately agencies suffer from a very high turnover of carers. A platform like home care direct depends more on continuity and ensuring the carer is happy and fully motivated. With a platform the carer earns significantly more than with an agency (roughly €21/hr V €12/hr) and is also more in control, so they are proactive about providing great quality home care.
Tax relief is available working with an agency as well as working directly with a carer so long as the carer is fully tax compliant. Families paying carers in cash means no access to tax relief and indeed brings risks of revenue and WRC audits. By working directly with carers through the Home Care Direct platform we can assure full tax compliancy.
Both options are valid for families needing support. The important issue we feel, is families having a choice as to how and by whom care is delivered. We need to trust families, that they are in the best position to decide what is best for them and their loved ones.