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.

05th August 2015

Personal care age minimum

Can I employ a 17 year old to deliver personal care?

Dear Candyce,

Thank you for your question. This is entirely a management decision.

I am sure that we all know someone who started work in a care home as a 16 year old and is now a Registered Manager.

If any regulator visited your premises and found it entirely staffed by very young staff then they might well 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.

There are some 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 are 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.

On their website Skills for Care have some useful advice:

It is very important that all service users are comfortable where personal care is being delivered by a young person and that approval of the service user should also feature in any decision just the same as any other option.

There is also further information on the ACAS website

You 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.

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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