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.

01st September 2015

Minimum carer age

How old do you have to be to become a carer?

Dear Bernie,

There are no special requirements regarding the age that people have to be before they work in an adult social care but there are some general rules for under 18 year olds which are set out here.

The person that you employ should therefore be in:

  • Full-time education, e.g. at a school or college
  • An apprenticeship or trainee-ship
  • Part-time education or training - as well as being employed, self-employed or volunteering for 20 hours or more a week

You would, I am sure, want the young person you were considering employing to be undertaking an apprenticeship.

You would also need to assess carefully at what stage you are happy for the young person to be delivering personal care unsupervised but there is no reason whatsoever why a 17 year old should not be delivering personal care providing you are satisfied that they are competent to do so. This is entirely a management decision.

I am sure that most of us know someone who started work in a care home as a 16 year old and is now a Registered Manager. However, if any regulator visited your premises and found it entirely staffed by very young staff then they would rightly be concerned about whether or not you had the right staff mix and levels of experience amongst your staff. Each member of staff that you employ needs to be interviewed, assessed and employed in their own right.

You would clearly have responsibilities towards the young person as well as service users so I would also advise you to consider whether any risk assessments need to be undertaken. The latest regulations about staffing says:

Regulation 18 —

  1. Sufficient numbers of suitably qualified, competent, skilled and experienced persons must be deployed in order to meet the requirements of this Part.
  1. Persons employed by the service provider in the provision of a regulated activity must—
    1. Receive such appropriate support, training, professional development, supervision and appraisal as is necessary to enable them to carry out the duties they are employed to perform
    2. Be enabled where appropriate to obtain further qualifications appropriate to the work they perform, and
    3. Where such persons are health care professionals, social workers or other professionals registered with a health care or social care regulator, be enabled to provide evidence to the regulator in question demonstrating, where it is possible to do so, that they continue to meet the professional standards which are a condition of their ability to practise or a requirement of their role.

There is also good guidance from CQC on their website

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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