Tips for choosing home care

To pick the right home care / services to be delivered in the home for yourself or someone you are assisting, first understand your / their particular needs.

Whether you are choosing care for respite or for long term, consider whether help is needed with
  • Household care - This can include help with cooking, cleaning, shopping and doing the laundry.
  • Personal care - This can include help with dressing, eating, bathing, going to the toilet and general hygiene.
  • Medical care - This can include managing medication, administering medication, getting to and from the doctor’s, managing wounds and dealing with physical therapy issues.
Once you have decided what kind of help is needed you should be able to create a basic job description to help identify the responsibilities to be undertaken by the person(s) you employ. Be sure to include the person who will be receiving the care in this process if they are able to participate.

Take time to investigate what is available to you and to research relevant information about the individual or agency you choose to provide your services.  

Things to consider when employing an individual

  • Assess the potential employee's work history
  • Have a job description based on the needs of the individual
  • Be specific about what home care is required
  • Discuss salary and payment schedule. Do not pay wages in advance.
  • Remember to check any additional costs such as delivery costs.
  • Be clear about what hours of work are required 
  • Conduct an interview with each candidate, preferably face to face, to find out
    • Do they work weekends?
    • Is back-up provided if they cannot attend a shift?
    • Are they willing to sign a contract?
    • Are they insured? (self-employed PAs should have Public Liability Insurance; employed PAs don't need this as their employer would be liable for arranging all insurances)
    • Can they provide verifiable references? Request both work and personal references
    • Are they a professional care giver?
    • Are they accredited with a known and trusted scheme?
    • If required for the post, do they hold a current driving licence?
    • What training have they undertaken?
    • Are they a legal resident of the country, or do they have legal work authorisation? 
    • What experience do they have in this type of work?
    • Have they cared for anyone with similar needs as those you have identified?
    • Are there any aspects of the care required that are difficult for the worker to undertake?

Things to consider when employing an Agency

  • Compare different agencies
  • How long has the agency been in this business?
  • What areas do they serve? 
  • What services are available through the agency?
  • Ask to see their last Care Quality Commission (CQC) Inspection Report 
  • Is the agency insured to protect your safety and interests?
  • Can the agency be contacted outside office hours and in an emergency?

Staff

  • Are all staff DBS-checked before being employed?
  • Do they interview all of their staff before offering them work?
  • Do they offer various levels of expertise?
  • How do they match the most suitable worker to meet the need identified and will they always have the same person caring for you?
  • What happens if your regular worker is off sick or on holiday?
  • What qualifications do staff have?
  • What ongoing training do they undertake?
  • Are staff trained to deal with complex conditions such as dementia or Parkinson’s?

Costs

  • What are their prices?
  • Is there a minimum charge if you only require a small amount of care?
  • What are their payment terms?

Policies

  • What is their cancellation policy? 
  • What procedures are in place for emergencies?
  • Do they have a Code of Practice?
  • Do they have a Complaints Policy and how are problems resolved?

You might also want to consider some more general tips for choosing a provider.