In the final part of our series on childcare, CATHERINE MUSGROVE looks at nannies and the services they offer to families.
They are sometimes considered the preserve of the rich and famous, from royals to celebrities.
But nannies are fast being considered a practical and cost-effective childcare choice for everyday families in Lancashire.
Debbie Salter, the managing director of a nannies agency Greycoat Lumleys, said: “Childcare generally has become more difficult for professional parents.
“More mothers want to go back to work and nursery options do not always give the flexibility people need in demanding jobs.”
Penny Hickey, from Much Hoole, has been a nanny for more than 20 years, with high-profile business people and celebrities among her clients.
Now she runs the The Northern Nanny Agency, and says more ordinary families are considering nannies as an alternative to nurseries or childminders.
Penny, mum to two-year-old Spencer, said: “Nannying is tailor-made to suit the individual needs of each and every family. I have nannies working nine-to-five Monday to Friday, I have nannies working evenings and weekends and also nannies who work shifts as their employers work in the NHS or fire service.
“Some live in, and some live out. Whatever you need can be arranged.
“Also if you have a nanny you pay one wage, not like a nursery where you pay per child.
A nanny works all year round too so if you have older kids then your childcare is sorted during all the school holidays or if your child is sick your nanny still comes to work.
“Nannies will follow the families routine and take the kids to classes and groups so the children still get to socialise.”
The hourly rate for a nanny in Lancashire depending on age and experience, is between £10-£14 per hour.
While parents of three and four-year-olds cannot get the 15-30 hours free childcare offered by the Government, they can use workplace childcare vouchers to pay towards a nanny’s salary if they are Ofsted registered.
Penny added: “My clients range from very high profile and affluent families right through to everyday families.
“More people are realising how beneficial it is to have a nanny especially if they’ve got more than one child. All school runs and holidays are covered.
“Nanny duties are everything for the child, so include the child’s cooking, cleaning their rooms, tidying the toy room and sorting out any errands that need doing. Some families have a nanny/PA/ house manager role.”
Nannies do not fall under the same regulation as childminders and nurseries, and do not have to be Ofsted-registered.
Onerous paperwork and plotting a child’s development against frameworks has been blamed for a sharp drop in the number of childminders quitting the profession.
Penny said: “There is no paperwork for a nanny, which in comparison to how much childminders and nursery workers have to do it means they get to spend so much more time with the child.
“I have nursery workers coming to me for interviews wanting to get out of the nursery environment because of all the paperwork they’re expected to do. Some tell me that they have very little time with the children some days because of all the paperwork.”
Unlike childminders and nursery staff, there is also no ratio restriction on how many children nannies can look after, so they can look after as many children as the family have.
All nannies at the Northern Nanny Agency are however, all DBS checked and required to have a paediatric first aid and childcare qualification.
They are employed by the family after being introduced by the agency.
Penny added: “I’ve nannied for over 20 years and am still in touch with all my nanny families. I adore all of my old charges.
“My job has taken me all over the world and I’ve worked for some amazing families, seen some amazing places and have now got wonderful memories from it all. I now run my agency as well as look after my two-year-old son.
“I set up my agency because so many people asked me to find them a nanny. Most of my nannies and most of my jobs come through recommendations. I love running my agency and get so much pleasure matching the perfect nanny to their perfect family.
“A good nanny becomes an extension of the family and ties are made that last a life time. I’ve had nannies become Godparents for their charges.”
Nannies: The job
- Unlike childminders, nannies do not need to be registered and inspected, although many choose to join the voluntary part of the Ofsted Childcare Register (in England).
- Unless they are registered on the voluntary part of the Childcare Register there is no legal requirement for nannies to have specific childcare training or to have had a disclosure from the Disclosure and Barring Service.
- According to sharingcare.co.uk, shows such as Supernanny and rising salaries has helped helped fuel a boom in the number of nannies. The total number of people employed in the role is thought to be over 100,000.
- A recent study by Direct Line Select Premier Insurance found that the highest recorded wage for a UK live-in nanny is £104,000 – more than four times the national average salary.
- While the highest wages were paid in London, the report found that one nanny agency in Scotland attracted typical pay of up to £76,000 for its staff, rising to £100,000 if the nanny was required to travel abroad with their employer. The study also found that some employers have also made specific demands about their nannies, the report found, including that their new employee possessed ski instructor qualifications.
- Many nannies are being kept on by families well beyond the time children go to school. Newsreader Fiona Bruce revealed that her family’s nanny, is still employed even though her children are now in their late teens, to help when she and her husband are working late.