Ask Sheila - Archive England

Sheila Scott OBE has now retired and therefore is no longer available to answer your social care questions. However, you might still find the answer you’ve been searching for down below.

08th August 2018

Are 16 year olds allowed to be employed by private care companies and sent on their own to the private homes of those who need care?

Hi Sheila. are 16 year olds allowed to be employed by private care companies and sent on their own to private homes of those who need care. The company specialises in providing care to those with dementia, Alzheimer's, mental health issues, physical disabilities and assistance with personal care for the elderly.


Dear J,


Thank you for your question. The first piece of advice I want to share with you is the legal position with regard to 16 to 18 year olds:


There are 3 main areas that can be undertaken:


  • Continue to study at a college, sixth form or training provider:


  • An Apprenticeship - train for an NVQ (National Vocational Qualification) while earning a wage and learning the skills for a particular type of job.


  • Full-time work or volunteering combined with part-time accredited education or training. “Full-time” means for 20 or more hours each week. “Accredited” could be in work-based learning or by attending college as well as going to work.


So any 16 to 18 year old would also need to be part of an accredited training scheme which would normally be an apprenticeship. You can find more about this on the Government's website. You can also discuss this with your local college or your training provider.


Your question is more complex because your question relates to providing care in a person's own home. If the person were working in a care home then they would always be working with someone else.


Being a care worker is a big and a serious responsibility and therefore I would not expect any adult social care provider to be regularly employing sixteen year olds and expecting them to visit service users in their own homes on their own without the appropriate level of training and support.


As always though there is a "but" here! We all want to encourage more young people to make a career in care so in cases where you have young people who:


1           Are ambitious to make a career in care


2            Are enrolled as an apprentice


3            Has a training provider who you can work with to provide the appropriate levels of support


4            You have carried out a risk assessment about the young person working alone


5            Each person has been considered on their own merit.


Then I can see no reason why you should not employ them but you will need to demonstrate in your records that the person has the appropriate level of competence and is receiving the appropriate level of support as well as the appropriate values to undertake care work.


There is also a blog on the Skills for Care website on this subject.


I hope this is helpful.


Best wishes.




*All information is correct at the time of publishing.

About Sheila

Sheila Scott OBE has now retired and over the years , prior to her retirement she has answered thousands of your social questions. You can still access the many questions below.

For Sheila Scott OBE as the former CEO of National Care Association (NCA), care is Sheila's life. She possesses a strong command of the issues facing the care sector informed by her long career as a nursing professional, the owner and manager of a care business, and as a leader in the care sector.

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