There are lots of advantages to becoming a self-employed carer, including autonomy and control over the work you take on.
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If you choose to be a self-employed carer, you’ll be your own boss. This can give you great freedom, but you need to remember you’re running a business. So, from setting your rates to registering with HMRC and finding clients, we’ve got a step-by-step guide to becoming a self-employed carer below.
How to be a carer
Whether you’re employed or self-employed, you should have the core skills that carers need. The National Careers Service say these include:
- The ability to relate to people from different backgrounds
- Tactful and sensitive communication skills
- Knowing how to keep calm under pressure
Your day-to-day tasks will involve a broad range of duties. But you can expect to help clients with personal care, prepare their food, give out medication, and do general tasks around your client’s house.
You’ll also need to support families and work with other healthcare professionals, so being a carer is both a physically and emotionally demanding role.
Benefits of being a self-employed carer
Going self-employed has lots of advantages:
- You can fit your working hours around you
- You can make important business decisions yourself
- You have more control over your finances, setting your own rates
- You can focus on particular aspects of care and choose your clients yourself
Keep in mind that finding clients can be difficult, and you’re responsible for sorting out all your paperwork.
But for those who crave the freedom to strike out on their own, going self-employed can be incredibly rewarding. See how to do it below.
How to become a self-employed carer – step-by-step
1. Make sure you have the right qualifications
If you’re brand new to care work, you might be wondering about training. While there’s no legal requirement to have qualifications, you should train to make sure you can offer the best level of care possible.
If you’re going self-employed, having the right qualifications can show commitment to your work – your clients will trust that you have the ability to give excellent care.
There are diplomas and NVQs you can take at levels 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. You might choose to gain experience and qualifications through an apprenticeship before going self-employed.
Experience is crucial, so if you’re completely new to care work, you could find employed or volunteer work first before setting up your own business.
2. Set up your business
Although caring for your clients will be your day-to-day priority, remember that you’ll also be running a business. This means that before you start you should think about:
Your business plan, which helps define your goals. A business plan also nails down the practical details, from the kind of clients you’d like to take on to financial forecasts. Read more about writing a business plan.
Registering as self-employed with HMRC before you start work. This lets them know how much you’re earning so you can pay the right amount of tax.
Your Self Assessment tax return, which you should complete every year and pay your tax.
3. Think about the legalities
It might be a good idea to get some professional advice before you go self employed, as there are a number of legalities to get your head around.
You’ll need to choose a legal structure for your business, which means deciding whether you’ll be a sole trader or a limited company.
You also need to make sure you know how to draw up the right contracts with your clients. It can be good to prepare a document that you can customise depending on the client.
Contracts should cover things like the work you’ll carry out, your hours, payment, responsibilities, and how to end the contract.
There are other policies and procedures to consider having in place. These include:
- A risk assessment record that shows you’ve thought about assessing risk and how to handle it
- A complaints procedure that gives clients a clear process to follow if they have one
- A duty of care and safeguarding policy, which is clear about what to do if you’re concerned about someone’s safety
You should also have an enhanced DBS check (previously called a CRB check).
4. Decide your self employed carer hourly rate
Experienced employed carers can expect to earn £17,000 to £19,000, but as you’re self-employed you’ll be setting your own rates.
Research is key. You’ll want to be competitive, so it’s a good idea to know what other carers in your area are charging.
You should work out your costs carefully before deciding your rate, which might be hourly, daily or weekly if you’re a sole trader (if you’re a limited company, you’ll pay yourself a salary).
Consider things like how much time and money you’ll spend travelling, what equipment you’ll need, and how much you might need for holiday and sick pay.
It’s important to know who’s paying you, too. This is because the person you’re caring for might pay you directly, or the local authority may pay for you on their behalf.
5. Find clients
After you’ve thought about the legalities and set up your business, you can start looking for clients. This means marketing yourself effectively, both online and offline.
Before setting out, you should know what kind of clients you want to care for. You might be more skilled in or more enthusiastic about a particular area of care. You should identify this in your business plan as marketing yourself can be easier if you focus on a particular niche rather than trying to market to a wide variety of people.
There are specialist websites like Care.com that put self-employed carers in touch with clients. As well as that, LinkedIn and Facebook can be good for finding work, especially if you’re looking for younger clients.
It’s a good rule to make it easy for people to find you online, featuring testimonials from people you’ve worked with before and details on how to get in touch with you.
We’ve got tips on building a business website that you might find handy.
More traditional advertising like leafleting and taking out space in the local newspaper can work, if your budget allows. And never underestimate the power of referrals when it comes to getting new clients. Focus on providing the best care and word can travel far.
6. Meeting your clients before starting work
Potential clients will want to meet you before they employ you, and all parties should make sure they can build comfortable relationships with each other.
Be prepared for questions that delve into your history, experience, and relationships with previous clients.
But while it’s important you have answers prepared, it’s good to prepare some questions of your own too. The process works both ways – you should establish whether you can work with the client.
An advantage to being self-employed is that you have control over your work. If you don’t feel comfortable about someone or the surroundings you might be working in, you can always say no to the job.
7. Consider self-employed carer insurance
When running your own business, you should think about the insurance you might need if something goes wrong.
The key cover for carers is public liability insurance. It can protect you if someone, like your client, is injured or suffers a loss because of your business.
If you end up employing staff, employers’ liability insurance will likely be a legal requirement. It can cover the claim if a member of staff becomes ill or injured as a result of working for you.
It’s a good idea to look at other covers too, like business equipment insurance for when you lose or damage your equipment.
Take a look at our carers insurance page to see the full range of covers that carers usually take out.
8. Take time for yourself
We mentioned that being a carer is physically and emotionally draining. Planning time for yourself can help you recharge, but you might find this more difficult when you’re self-employed.
Being upfront with your clients about how you’ll need time for holidays – and working out how to navigate illnesses – should help you avoid any pitfalls. This might mean finding out if they have others who can handle their care while you’re away.
Let us know how you get on with going self-employed in the comments below.