Case study

Use your home as a workplace

Ensuring that my home was safe for use as a workplace - Urban Kids

Sarah Seisay runs Urban Kids, childminding and mobile crèche service based in West London. When setting up the childminding side of the business from her home in 2002, Sarah discovered she had to make various changes to ensure the safety of her clients' children. Here she explains how she met the requirements and how it felt to turn her personal space into her business workspace.

What I did

Seek help from the relevant authorities

"When I first decided to set up a childminding business from home I wasn't sure what the health and safety requirements were. I went to my local Children's Information Service in Westminster who sent me on a course. While there I discovered that I needed to fill in a form for OFSTED and they would then send someone to inspect my home and make recommendations about where things should be changed."

Make the necessary changes

"After the inspection, which took around two hours, I was sent a letter stating what changes I needed to make. These were things like installing stair gates, putting locks on the bottom cupboards in the kitchen, using plastic covers for electrical sockets and covering the hobs on top of the oven. Although it makes perfect sense for the business, some of the changes aren't ideal when you want your personal space to look a certain way.

"Once I had the letter from OFSTED, I was able to get a £600 grant from the council to buy the things I needed because my postcode comes under what is classed by government as a deprived area."

Find out about other health and safety rules

"Besides the changes to my home, there were other things I had to be aware of. For example, as a registered childminder you have to have checks done on anyone who is likely to come into your home while you have children there.

"Record keeping is also important. For example, if I notice a child has a bruise I have to note down what time I saw it and then get the parent to sign to say they know it is there when they pick the child up. This is just to help protect myself from any legal claims."

What I'd do differently

Reserve some personal space

"If I could do anything differently I would have perhaps decided exactly which parts of my home would be used for the business and what I would reserve as my personal space. This minimises the rooms that have to be inspected by OFSTED and also limits the disruption to your living area."