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Can a carer ever become part of the family?

For those wishing to stay at home and who have decided to find a live in carer, the chances are, this will feel like a shot in the dark when it comes to actually hiring a carer, but this where a specialist agency can help. In fact this may be, in the early days, this is a better solution that trying to recruit your own carer directly. The individual concerned is unlikely to have had anyone outside of close family living with him or her for many years, so the stress of letting a new person into the family household, with all that that involves, can be considerable.

The reality is potentially stark, a vulnerable member of the family will be left with a stranger for up to 24 hours a day and in truth, may be totally dependent upon that person for care, support and of course security, as one of the jobs of carer, particularly one looking after dementia cases, is to protect that person against accidental harm.

All care agencies now have to check new applications against the criminal record database in exactly the same way that many other professions, where that person may be working with the vulnerable, so this creates a first line of defence. Carers are interviewed thoroughly by the agency, references are taken and then any new carer will embark upon a training course, which normally lasts up to a week.

This can cover multitude of areas from the quasi medical, such as administering medication, basic health monitoring and toileting, through to the more traditional roles of cooking, cleaning and also learning how to establish human relationship with their new client.

Care agencies tend to work on a system of rotas, where a carer may be placed for two or three weeks, then moved and then may or may not return. This is to protect both parties – on the one hand, the carer who is likely to be working alone will need variety and contact with the outside world which, if they are limited to one placement over a long time, might not always be possible. This can be a particular issue with remote rural placements, where it may be hard to get to know the community.

Equally, the client needs an opportunity to get to know their new carer and to decide, on a human level, f they can get on or not. If they feel that they cannot, it is perfectly normal to ask the agency to send a replacement and to keep doing this within reason, until a more suitable pairing is found.

Some carers do actively prefer long term single placement, especially if the client is not too demanding, but in cases where stress levels are necessarily higher, which normally means a highly dependent client, breaks and longer term rest are essential.

Can a carer ever really become part of the family? Ecaterina Marin, a carer working in the Rickmansworth area thinks they can. “You have to remember, you are coming into someone’s home, so it is their rules that matter. You cannot go in and lay down your own regime. If you are happy to listen and be flexible and remember you are there to help, you can become part of the family.” So the answer is, it will vary, some carers will want to get close to the family, some will not, but certainly there are carers who live and work with the same family very happily for many years, even sharing holidays, so the evidence suggests they can. 

For more information on funding later life care costs, visit




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