Whether you've become a self-employed carer after leaving an employed post or embarking on an entirely new career, running your own business can be exciting and liberating. You'll have the freedom to work with clients you choose, select the hours that suit and even set your own rates.
But knowing where to begin as a self-employed carer can feel quite daunting.
Our guide will take you through what you need to know.
Skills and qualifications
There's no legal requirement to hold a specific qualification or certificate to be a self-employed carer. However, to ensure you have the right skills and reassure clients you're committed to offering an excellent standard of care, it's advisable to invest time working toward some recognised care industry qualifications.
If you're not qualified, The Care Certificate guides new carers through an agreed set of standards that define the expected knowledge, skills and behaviours.1
There are also diplomas and NVQs you can take. You might choose to gain experience and qualifications through an apprenticeship before going self-employed.
Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Certificate
An enhanced DBS certificate is a way to prove to potential clients that you don't have a criminal record and are not barred from working with vulnerable adults. An enhanced DBS certificate will cost £40, with an annual £13 Update Service fee.
Unlike the basic DBS check, which can be requested from gov.uk2 you'll need to ask an organisation to apply for an enhanced check on your behalf. You might also be a member of a professional body that can help.
Establishing your business
As with any new business, you'll need to consider being a Limited company or operating as a sole trader. It's worth noting that a Limited Company that provides care services must be registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC). You'll have to undertake regular inspections and adhere to training and reporting requirements. Many self-employed carers choose to avoid this by setting up their business as a sole trader.
You'll have to declare yourself as self-employed to HMRC; then you'll be able to make your tax payments through your Self-Assessment Tax Return.3
Have a plan
Setting out a business plan that clearly details your goals is good practice. For example, what kind of clients do you want to work with? Will you be offering specialist care? How much do you hope to earn? What hours are you prepared to commit, and will you have a geographical area to cover? All these questions should be answered in your business plan, outlining how you intend to attract new clients and defining any marketing activities and budget.
Draw up contracts
You'll need to create contracts to agree to for you and your clients. They should outline the service you will provide, including hours, pay, responsibilities and cancellation of services.
As well as contracts, you will need to have documented procedures for complaints, risk assessments, your duty of care and safeguarding.
Your caring role comes with responsibility. It could put you at risk of claims being brought against you for mistakes, accidents, injuries or even alleged abuse by the person you're caring for. As a minimum, you'll need public liability insurance to protect against claims made against you by a client or a member of the public who's suffered an injury or property damage due to your work.
However, you should also consider other types of cover to protect yourself and your business. Personal injury cover will give you peace of mind if you're unable to work due to an injury sustained while working, and it's worth checking with your car insurance provider to establish if your car is covered for work-related travel.
Connecting with clients
With all these steps complete, you'll be ready to go out and find your clients. It’s a good idea to set up a website to attract new clients – it doesn’t have to be a complex site; it just gives you the opportunity to articulate what you do and how prospective clients can contact you. You can also pay to list your services on specialist directory websites such as Care.com. You can use social media channels such as LinkedIn and Facebook to network and spread the word and encourage referrals and recommendations.
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