AN ULVERSTON woman has launched a new way for people needing help at home to find care workers.

Qualified occupational therapist Kath Threlkeld is hoping carers across the country will sign up to her new website to give clients more choice and to help improve their own pay and working conditions.

The 42-year-old believes agency staff are leaving the caring profession "at an alarming rate" as they are disillusioned by "low wages" and "extreme pressures". She said it is not uncommon for agencies to charge clients £15 an hour, almost twice what the carers themselves earn.

She said clients - from elderly folk to patients with conditions such as MS or Parkinson's disease - have their own problems too, often seeing many different care workers over the course of a week, instead of the same familiar faces.

Reputable agencies are doing a good job, Kath told the Gazette, but many care staff could improve their lot by going self-employed and signing up to her website - the Alliance of Independent Care and Support Workers - to find clients.

"The idea for the alliance was borne from a conversation between me and a nursing colleague," said Kath.

"Not only have we both worked with care workers, my colleague has also successfully used independent care workers for a family member who needs full-time care for many years – and she has seen first-hand the benefits that a small, consistent clinical team can have."

Kath explained: "Care and support workers work with some of the most vulnerable members of our society, usually for low wages and under extreme pressures. The aim of the alliance is to support the growing number of care and support workers in the UK. We want to help them gain the professional respect, industry support and a fair rate of pay which reflects the vital work they do."

The alliance acts as an introductory service, with each carer's online profile featuring their references, DBS check and insurance status, to help families and clients make their own, informed choice.

"It is totally free, takes just two minutes to join and all the resources you need to practise as an independent care worker are provided," said Kath.

"Regardless of their current role, I’d encourage all care workers to not only sign up themselves but also share with their care colleagues across the UK, and let’s get the pay and conditions care workers deserve."

To sign up or to search for care workers by postcode, see