A step by step guide to choosing a home care agency

With the costs of residential care being very high, more and more people are looking to receive specialist home care services. This is often delivered by a specialist homecare agency, who employ carers with specific training and expertise in providing care in the home.

Choosing between homecare services agencies

Picking between specialist, and paid for, home care services agencies can be a difficult thing to do. That is why we have created a care agencies search facility to allow you to find a specialist carer in your area. Just put in details below of where you are and what type of specialist care agencies you are looking for.

You will find that there are likely to be a range of home care agencies in your area.  With the growth in demand for home healthcare we are also seeing an increase in home care providers.  Therefore, you will find that there are many agencies there that have fewer than 20 carers available.  There are of course the larger home healthcare agencies and you will find that many of these will be franchises.

5 Steps to finding a home care agency

We have written a helpful 5 step guide to picking a home care agency.  You can find it here.

Broadly, the 5 steps can be broken down as follows:

Step 1 – Identify what home healthcare support you need

Have a think about what help you want from the home healthcare provider.  You will find that there is a range of different support available.  Most often you will find that the home care help is given by care attendants personal assistants of carers.

The areas where people most often want support is with help looking after their personal care and hygiene, help doing their weekly shopping, assistance around the house with cleaning and tidying and helping to cook meals.  Sometimes however, all you need is companionship.

Step 2 – Contact your local authority and find out what help they will give you

Whilst you are in the process of looking at care genies, you should also make sure that you contact your local social services and ask them to assess your care needs.  Read more information about care needs and financial assessment.

Once you go through the assessment process, your local authority will outline what support and help they can give you and importantly what finical assistance they will provide.

If you chose not to take the support your local authority provide, you are free to approach care agencies yourself and choose your own home care.  Your local authority will then either fully or partly fund this.

This will be done through making ‘direct payments’ or through a ‘personal budget’.  The purpose of this is to help tie you control of your own care.

Step 3 – Work out your home care services cost

Estimating how your home care services cost  is important you need to ensure you are spending your money wisely.

The cost of the care agencies do differ, with costs ranging from £10 per hour to sometimes above £20 per hour.

The costs often depend on the type of support you want and how regularly you need it.   We have built a care cost calculator to help you estimate your home care services cost and the costs of your home healthcare. You can find the care cost calculator here.

Step 4 – Find your home care services agency

Once you have done the above you can search for care agencies using our directory facility below.  This will lost all the local care agencies in your area.

Step 5 – Speak to your short-listed home care agencies

Once you have identified 3 or 4 care agencies to speak too, it is important that you, with your support from family and friends have a detailed conversation with the short listed home healthcare providers.  This is important to ensure that they can give you the home care services and support that you need.  There are also a number of standard question you should ask.

The key questions you should ask if you want to choose your own home care agency

Below are questions you should ask of the agency, your care worker and your needs.

Questions to ask the home care agency

  • Do i need to sign a contract?
  • Is there a minimum number of hours that I need to commit too?
  • How much do I pay per hour and how often is this reviewed?
  • How much does home care services cost
  • Am I responsible for meeting any other charges such as travel costs, VAT, national insurance, pension contributions?
  • Do I have to pay more if I need care in the evening, weekends or bank holidays?
  • How are payments made (cheque, direct debit, cash) and how regularly do I have to make these?
  • Do you have any insurance in case of damage to property by the carer?
  • Can you engage with the care agency for a trial period to see how things work out?

The Care Worker

  • Will you have the same carer and do they live nearby?
  • Can you meet the proposed carer before committing to the care agencies
  • What training do the carers receive and how does the agency monitor their training and skills needs?
  • Do the carers have any qualifications and does the care agency support their carers in undertaking any qualifications?
  • How many other people does the carer look after and how close are they to where you live?
  • What written records does the carer keep and will you be asked to sign a time sheet indicating when the carer came and how long they stayed?
  • Can details of any written records and time sheets be sent to a relative?
  • What communication skills does the carer have and are they able to speak your language in a  clear and understandable way

For interest, here is our blog on the 10 qualities you need in a carer.

Your needs

  • How does the agency determine who the right carer for you is? Do you have any particular religious or cultural requirements you want the carer to be sensitive too?
  • How often will the agency speak to you about the suitability of the carer and whether they are meeting your needs?
  • Will the carers have direct access to my house?
  • If you have a particular medical condition, it is also important to ensure that your chosen carer has experience of this and is able to provide the support that you will need.

More information on all the 5 steps can be found here.