Choosing a home care agency
Once you have decided that receiving care at home and not moving into a care home is right for you and your family, you then need to think about choosing a home care agency that best meets your needs. Across the country there are many home care agencies and home care providers, and it is important for you to understand the differences when choosing.
The most significant difference is that home care agencies, unlike home care providers are not regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which means the quality of their care is not monitored and regularly inspected. Typically, they are introduction home care agencies. They will introduce a carer to you for you to manage and oversee, they will be self employed workers and not employees of an organisation. When choosing a home care agency, it is worth exploring a home care or live-in care provider as they are regulated by CQC and offer a fully managed service taking the worry away from the family of having to manage the care arrangement themselves. They employ their staff and take full responsibility for the service being provided.
Selecting a home care agency
Planning and research
It is critical that you do your research. If you do not have any recommendations from family members or friends to help when choosing a home care agency, the best place to start is with a Google search for ‘home care services near me’. This will show all the agencies and providers that are within your local area. Reviewing the home care agencies and home care providers websites will give you information about the services they offer and a good feel about how they operate. You can then compile a short list of companies who you can contact.
Home care agencies and home care providers will have trust scores on rate and review sites, like homecare.co.uk and Trustpilot. The NHS website also rates service providers based on feedback they receive. You will get a good idea on how provider services are perceived by those that use them on these websites, which can inform your decision making.
It is imperative that you look up those you have researched on the CQC website and download their latest inspection report.
CQC is responsible for regulating and inspecting all health and social care services in England and Wales. They conduct inspections at least yearly but for services that are not performing it will be more frequently.
They inspect home care providers in five measures (called Key Lines of Enquiry or KLoE):
- Is the service safe?
- Is the service caring?
- Is the service effective?
- Is the service responsive?
- Is the service well-led?
They will then attribute a rating to each of the five KLoE’s:
- Outstanding – the service is performing exceptionally well
- Good – the service is performing well and meeting expectations
- Requires improvement – the service is not performing as well as it should and CQC has told the service how it must improve.
- Inadequate – the service is performing badly and CQC has acted against the person or organisation that runs the service.
How to choose a home health care agency
Whether you are choosing a home care agency or a home care provider to deliver the care you need, you will need to ask the right questions when you contact them so you can make an informed decision. Use our useful ten question check list below:
- What is your current CQC rating?
- Do you employ your carers?
- Are your carers trained before they are placed with a client?
- If they are trained, what specific conditions are they able to care for?
- How is the service managed?
- Who pays the carer?
- What support is provided?
- What happens if something goes wrong?
- What happens when the carer goes on holiday or is off sick?
- If my loved ones needs change and they need higher levels of care, for example nurse-led care are you able to provide this?
Other factors to consider
When considering how to choose a home health care agency, cost will be a factor you will naturally need to think about.
It is important when considering the cost of care for a home care agency that you think about the differences in costs and benefits between using a home care agency, who charge you a fee to introduce you to a carer who you employ and pay yourself and manage directly, or using a fully managed and regulated home care provider, who offer greater levels of management and service delivery to ensure you get the highest quality home care.
Employed professional carers
There are many reassuring benefits to using a fully managed service. As a fully managed service, The Good Care Group directly employs its professional carers – we never use home care agency staff. All carers go through a robust and rigorous recruitment process and are trained to the highest level before they are placed with a client. Uniquely, we are the only live-in care provider to use a situational judgement test during the recruitment process to ensure those we hire have the aptitude to deliver the high-quality care our clients should expect. You will be supported by a dedicated regional manager and a care manager, with support from a central service centre. Our managers only look after a small portfolio of clients, which means you and our care teams get unrivalled levels of support.
A regulated and inspected service drives quality
The Good Care Group is a regulated service, which means the quality of its care is regulated by The Care Quality Commission (CQC), something introduction home care agencies are not. As a family, choosing a home care agency you cannot be assured of the quality of the service the carer you are introduced to will provide.
We are proud to be the only dedicated live-in care provider in the UK to have achieved an ‘Outstanding’ rating in all five areas in our last inspection. Read our CQC report here.
We are completely accountable for the care we provide, which eliminates worry and provides reassurance to families that their loved one is in safe hands and receiving the best care. Our award-winning care trusted by families across the country has seen us win year-on-year more care industry awards than any other home care provider, including four dementia accolades recognising our approach to delivering outstanding dementia care?
Taking the worry away from family members
Once an introduction agency introduces a carer to you and you pay the one-off charge to them for that service, that is typically the end of their involvement in the arrangement. Families are then required to supervise, manage and organise all aspects of the care for their loved one, which for most is time consuming, frustrating and sometimes unmanageable. Most people who require long term care will need a team of two carers to provide the support they need. This means you will be responsible for managing a rota, paying the carer and organising sickness and holiday cover as well as directing the care. Carers introduced through an introductory agency are self-employed and have not necessarily had any training before being placed with a client. With a fully managed and regulated service all these worries are simply taken away and you have all the reassurance you need about the quality of care being provided and the level of service you will receive – making life easier for all the family.
Talk to us about your care needs
To talk about your care needs contact one of our friendly advisors. Calls from landlines are free.