Making the decision to get live-in support for an elder parent or relative is never straightforward. And once the decision has been made, you have the challenge of working out how to arrange it and find a carer (or two) who they like and can get along with.
There are several routes you can take to find live-in support for your parent, and which one you take will depend on several factors, including the type and level of support they need, how much time you have, and how much control you or they would like.
If you want more control over who your parent’s carer is, then you may want to consider hiring a self-employed carer using an introductory live-in care agency. Unlike traditional care agencies (or care providers), who directly employ the carers they provide to clients, introductory agencies act as an intermediary or ‘matching service’, introducing you to self-employed carers who they have pre-vetted.
But who has time to trawl through Google to find an agency that suits their needs, and can be trusted to find the right person?
Our mission at Eldering is to do the heavy lifting for you and make the process of eldercare easier. So, we’ve done some digging to help you narrow down your search and make an informed decision quickly, with confidence.
This is our curated list (in no particular order) of what we believe to be the best introductory live-in care agencies in the UK. Bear in mind that these are national agencies – we have not included local introductory care agencies which do not have a presence nationwide.
How we did our homework
Before we dive in, here is a quick look at our research methods for curating this list of the best UK introductory live-in care agencies:
- Reviewed the information presented on multiple agency websites
- Investigated the complexity of each website for searching and hiring
- Analysed ratings and reviews for multiple agencies posted by clients on Trustpilot, Google and GlassDoor to narrow down our search
- Interviewed a representative from each agency using a standard set of questions
To make it easier for you to compare different options, here’s our ‘at-a-glance’ comparison table of the four agencies we’ve selected. Please note that this information and pricing is subject to change, so always double-check directly with the agency. Further detailed information about each agency and how they work can be found below the table.
|Price for live-in carer incl. agency fees plus VAT
|From £896 per week
|10% plus VAT
|Curam’s time-saving, tech-enhanced platform facilitates complete control and choice for hiring a carer. The tech reduces fees and costs, allowing carers to earn more while clients pay less.
|From £980 per week
|£217 per week (flat rate), plus a one-off, non-refundable lifetime registration fee of £240
|Longest running, traditional model agency Country Cousins eschews tech, offering a 100% ‘human touch’ from the start, and a dedicated Client Relationship executive who checks in with clients and their families regularly.
|The Live-In Care Company
|From £1100 per week
|20% incl. VAT
|Founded by two health professionals, and known for their exacting standards and client-carer matching process, The Live-In Care Company accepts only 1 in 10 carers that apply to join the agency, and 95% of customer reviews grade the company 5*.
|From £1,195 per week
|Variable rate depending on need, plus VAT
|Award-winning Elder merges a traditional human-centric approach with advances in tech to match carers, alongside an app that supports families to easily monitor and manage the care of their loved one.
Best introductory live-in care agencies
Trustpilot rating: 4.3 (Excellent) based on over 390 reviews
- Agency fee: 10% plus VAT
- Price for live-in carer: From £800 per week (average across UK is £1073)
- Total minimum cost per week (including agency fee and VAT): £896
Curam is an online matching platform that allows you to search for suitable candidates yourself from their rapidly growing 8000+ database of vetted, self-employed UK carers and personal assistants. The tech behind the platform means that many of the processes involved in hiring and matching carers are automated, which allows the company to reduce costs. This means carers earn more while clients pay less (Curam has one of the lowest agency fees in the industry – just 10% – and, on average, Curam carers earn 50% more than other agency carers). All carers are thoroughly vetted and insured by Curam, speak good English and, between them, a multitude of other languages (handy if you need a bi-lingual carer).
How it works
The search process on Curam is simple and quick, so particularly good if you need to find someone for your parent or elderly relative in a hurry.
There are two routes you can take to find a carer:
- Browse via postcode search: Simply type in your parent’s postcode where indicated on the site (or using their app), select whether you want a male or female carer, and what type of care you need, and you will then be presented with a list of carer profiles in your area. You can then further refine and narrow down your carer search depending on your parent’s specific needs (such as speaking a specific language).
- Post an advert: Alternatively, if you need care support in an emergency (for example, if your parent is coming out of hospital), you can post a job advert on the site for carers to respond to.
When you see a carer profile you like the look of, you can click on it to find out more information about the carer, including their rate, interests, experience and client reviews. Most carers on the platform also have a video introducing themselves. Once you find one or two you like the look of, you can message them directly. The average response time from a carer once you have messaged them is just two hours. You can then arrange to interview them online or in-person, as well as negotiate their hourly rate if you’re not happy to pay what they’re asking for on their profile. When you have confirmed a carer and agreed a rate, your carer then draws up a service agreement which is sent to you on the app. All payments for care are made securely via the Curam app or website.
Good to know
- Carer experience: Curam requires that its carers have at least two year’s care experience, and those registered on the platform have an average of ten years’ experience. Around a quarter of the carers on their platform are returning to care because of the higher earnings. Curam’s vetting process for registering carers includes an enhanced DBS check, right to work in the UK, online interview, in-person interview, and biometric ID check. Carers must also provide two independent referees (at least one of them a UK resident) who are willing to vouch for the carer.
- Carer qualifications: Curam doesn’t require their carers to have any formal qualifications in care. However, once registered, Curam provides carers with access to over 100 free online care training courses.
- Monitoring and support: Curam has recently introduced a Family Sharing feature on their app which allows family members to access certain (permissioned) data as well as invoicing and messaging carers. The Curam app means families (if granted permission) will soon be able to check their loved one’s digital care plans (devised by a nurse and social worker), care notes, health vitals and GPS check in and check out of carers (which lets you know when the carer arrives and when they leave).
- Insurance: Curam’s self-employed carers are covered by the agency’s public liability insurance (up to £1,000,000). However, they are only covered if transactions / payment takes place over the app. The insurance is activated by the approval of a service agreement and the accompanying shift invoice provided by your carer.
- Contract terms: There is no minimum contract length and you only pay for care provided. The length of service is decided between yourself and the carer and is clearly stated on the service agreement that you draw up together. You can cancel your contract with a Curam carer at any time and are only obliged to pay for care that has already been delivered. Curam does recommend that you give the carer at least 48 hours’ notice should you wish to cancel your contract.
- Trustpilot rating: 4.3 (Excellent) based on over 65 reviews
- Agency fee: £217 per week, plus a one-off, non-refundable lifetime registration fee of £240
- Price for live-in carer: from £763 per week
- Total minimum cost per week (including agency fee and VAT): £980
Country Cousins is the longest operating introductory care agency in the UK. They began providing contact between carers and clients over sixty years ago and are well-versed in a wide range of home care services. In 2020, the company became part of the Trinity Homecare Group and has over 1,500 self-employed carers available. This company operates on a very traditional introductory care model, and offers a three-tiered pricing approach depending on the individual’s need (Standard live-in care, Advanced live-in care, Night support). If you are not so keen on the newer tech-led, ‘DIY-style’ introductory agencies, then this could be the agency for you.
How it works
The first step is to call Country Cousins for an initial, no obligation discussion about your parents’ care needs with one of their Client Service Advisors. They can help you understand what service and support might be right for your parent and give you an overview of costs. If you are happy to move ahead, you then need to register with the agency, and pay a non-refundable registration fee. Once you have done this, you will be appointed and contacted by a dedicated Care Relationship Executive to get a more detailed understanding of your parent’s needs and preferences. The registration process can take up to 45 minutes depending on the nature of your parent or elder relative’s care needs. Following this, they will begin searching their database for a suitably matched carer, noting histories, common interests and preferences. Once they have found a good match, they will share an information pack about the carer with you for your consideration, and can arrange for you to have a phone or video interview with them. If you are not happy with the initial candidate, the team will search for another candidate for you until you find one you are happy with.
Once you have chosen a carer and they have started work for you, you will need to invoice the carer for their services. This is usually done weekly or at the end of the assignment if it’s a short one. Country Cousins will charge you their fees separately either once a month or at the end of the assignment if it’s less than a month long.
Good to know
- Carer experience: Before registering with Country Cousins, all carers must have a minimum of six months’ experience providing care. They all undergo a comprehensive vetting process, that includes in-depth interviews, enhanced DBS checks and reference checking.
- Carer qualifications: All of the carers registered with Country Cousins are required to have training in safeguarding of vulnerable adults, moving and handling, plus basic life support. Many Country Cousins carers also have specialised training in dementia and physical disability support so if your parent requires more complex care this might be the introductory care agency to take a look at.
- Monitoring and support: Country Cousins actively monitors carers and client care. Each client and their family is appointed a dedicated Client Relationship Executive, who checks in regularly. They ensure that client profiles are kept up to date so that the level of care remains appropriate and they can continue to match the best suited carers. If you or your parent are unhappy with the carer, you should inform your Client Relationship Executive and Country Cousins will promptly initiate the process of finding a replacement.
- Insurance: Country Cousin’s does not include insurance. It is the client’s responsibility to get public liability insurance through normal household contents insurance. So, remember to check your parent’s policy if you plan to hire a carer through this agency.
- Contract terms: The minimum contract is seven days, after which there are no tie-ins and you can terminate the contract or switch carers if it isn’t working out. You just need to send an email to your Client Relationship Executive to say you wish to cancel the contract, giving them seven days’ notice.
The Live-in Care Company
- Trustpilot rating: 4.9 (Excellent) based on over 265 reviews
- Agency fee: 20% incl. VAT
- Price for live-in carer: from £880 per week
- Total minimum cost per week (including agency fee and VAT): £1100
The Live-in Care Company was set up in 2017 by two health professionals who wanted to address the difficulty of sourcing and retaining high-quality carers. The Live-in Care Company operates on a more traditional care agency model, where you call the company to discuss your needs and preferences and they then find the right carer for you. The agency is known for their exacting standards when it comes to both the carers they take on board, and their client-carer matching process. Only 1 in 10 carers that apply to join the agency are accepted, and 95% of customer reviews grade the company 5*.
How it works
First you call the agency or request a call back. During the call, one of the care team will discuss your parent’s needs and preferences with you, to understand exactly what kind of care your parent needs. Together, you will also create a bespoke role description during the call.Following the call, the team will then search their database of over 550 carers and carefully select a good match. You will then be sent profiles of the most suitable carers for you to choose from, who you can arrange to speak to before choosing which one you prefer. Once client and carer are in agreement, then a start date is organised. The first two weeks of care is classed as a trial period, and the entire care contract is overseen by a dedicated Client Liaison Manager. Live-in carers tend to work 4-6 weeks before taking a break, they then cover the breaks with another well-matched carer. If a client or carer is unhappy in the role, the agency are able to make changes immediately.
Good to know
- Carer experience: All carers registered with The Live-In Care Company have a minimum of one years’ caring experience, and many have much more than this. Carers are interviewed and fully vetted before they can register, including DBS checks (which must be unblemished) and reference checks with previous employers.
- Carer qualifications: The Live-in Care Company is very selective about the carers they permit to join the agency. As well as insisting carers score highly in specific personality traits such as a cheery demeanour, punctuality and a compassionate nature, carers are required to have training in safeguarding vulnerable adults, first aid, moving and handling and medication management. The Live-in Care Company also have carers with specialist training in catheter care, diabetes, dementia, stroke awareness and other areas.
- Monitoring and support: Whilst The Live-In Care Company doesn’t actively monitor carers or client care, each family receives a dedicated Client Liaison Manager who will keep in touch with them and answer any queries or concerns about the care of their loved ones. The Client Liaison Manager also arranges cover for any carer breaks to ensure there are never any gaps in care. By frequently speaking with the client, family and carer, any issues that arise are quickly dealt with.
- Insurance: The Live-In Care Company does not include insurance, but they request that all carers take out liability insurance. So, if you hire a carer through this agency, ask for a copy of the carers insurance certificate.
- Contract terms: The minimum contract is seven days, after which there are no tie-ins and you can terminate the contract or switch carers if it isn’t working out.
- Trustpilot rating: 4.6 (Excellent) based on over 600 reviews
- Agency fee: Variable depending on need, plus VAT
- Price for live-in carer: from £1,195 per week
- Total minimum cost per week (including agency fee and VAT): £1,195
Elder is an award-winning introductory agency, founded in 2015 after its CEO was unable to find adequate care for a family member and wanted to give people more options to remain in their own home as they aged. They have a register of over 5000 self-employed carers and support specialists and, according to Elder, 90% of their customers are fully satisfied with the carer they’re matched with. Through the MyElder account and app, families can also easily manage the care of their loved ones. The company also doesn’t pass on weekend or bank holiday surcharges, although carers get paid double by the company on these days.
How it works
First you book a free 30-minute telephone consultation via the website. If you’re happy to proceed, you then need to set up a MyElder account and fill out a care appraisal online, to provide Elder with a complete picture of your parent’s care needs, interests and personality. Based on this, the Elder care team will use their knowhow and matching technology to search their 5000+ carer database to find carers with the experience and character that would suit them best. The profile of a carer they think would be most suitable for your parent will then be sent to your MyElder account. As well as their work history, skills and hobbies, the carer profiles include short videos of the carers themselves, so you can get a better idea of what they are like before deciding. You then have just over 24 hours to decide if the carer is a good match. If you are not happy, the team will continue to search for other options and present these to you. Once you have decided on a potential carer, you can instantly reserve and request a call with them. Then, once you and/or your parent have selected a carer, the first week is always a trial week and you can replace the carer free of charge if not happy.
Typically, you would have one primary live-in carer who cares for three to four weeks at a time. They’ll then take a rest, usually for one or two weeks. During this time a temporary respite carer will step in. Elder aims to ensure consistency with respite carers but this is not always feasible.
Good to know
- Carer experience: All carers registered with Elder must have had at least one year’s care experience in the UK, be able to provide two authenticated references and present a clean enhanced DBS certificate. Many of the carers in Elder’s database have over 10 years’ caring experience, and all have a good level of English.
- Carer qualifications: Elder do not require their carers to have any formal qualifications in caring or undertake ongoing training once registered with them as a carer.
- Monitoring and support: While Elder does not play an ongoing role in the direction or control of care provided by your chosen carer, they do provide clients with a dedicated account manager, as required. Families can monitor and coordinate their elder relative’s care using the MyElder app, which organises all information around care in one, accessible place. Through the app, you can update payment details, reading carer profiles, planning handover days and monitor quality of care.
- Insurance: Unlike some agencies that require a carer to be personally insured, Elder hold a £5,000,000 public liability insurance policy in the unlikely event of accidental damage to someone or your parent’s property caused by the carer.
- Contract terms: Care can be terminated with two-week’s notice. You can get a replacement carer at any time if your chosen carer is not working out. While Elder do offer to provide a carer within 24 hours in an emergency situation, normal carer placement can take up to two weeks after the initial consultation. There are no weekend or bank holiday surcharges.
Using an introductory care agency can save you time and stress, but you should always check for hidden expenses. When you hire from an agency of this type you will usually need to pay for the carer’s travel expenses. You will also be responsible for the carer’s food and any expenses incurred on recreational outings or while attending appointments. Those expenses can add up to be quite a bit so budget carefully before making a final decision about whether to hire a private carer or not.
- How much should I pay a live-in carer UK?
The cost for a live-in carer in the UK varies depending on location and what’s included in a person’s care package, but you can expect fees to be in the region of £800 to £1,500 a week or, in some cases, £2,000 per week if nursing care is required.
- How do I choose a live-in carer for my elderly parent?
When choosing a live-in carer for your parent or elder relative, it’s really important to consider their personality and how compatible they would be with your parent, in addition to their skills and experience. You should always conduct a thorough interview before making a decision, and prepare ahead for the interview to ensure you ask all the right questions.
- Can introductory agencies take payment from NHS Continuing Healthcare or the council?
Yes, they can. To pay for care with an introductory care agency, you need to request that the Continuing Healthcare or local authority funding is paid directly to your bank account, and you can then use the money to pay the agency and self-employed carer directly. However, it’s important to confirm with your chosen introductory agency if you are using this sort of funding to pay for care.