11 Questions To Ask When Choosing A Home Care Provider

10 February, 2021

Today, there are lots of in-home and personal care providers & services available in the market. Catering for everything from getting in and out of bed to bathing, meal preparation, cleaning, laundry, and acting as a companion for social events and appointments.

In-home care tends to be a lot more flexible than moving into a care home, for example offering different levels of care without a long-term commitment. 

For example, you may just need help with everyday tasks while recovering from an illness. When you’re feeling better you may not need the extra help.

If you’re searching for care at home, this handy list of questions and tips may help you to find the best care provider for your needs. Here are the top 11 questions you should be asking your home care providers:

1. What background checks do you carry out on your care assistants?

dbs check form

As part of any interview process, anyone working as a care worker should undergo a detailed DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) and background check.  

The care provider will also establish that the care worker is legally entitled to work in the UK and that they have appropriate qualifications (as a minimum a Diploma in Health & Social Care Level 2).

2. What training do your care workers receive?

It’s always useful to ask what types of training caregivers receive and whether that training is regularly updated. 

Over and above minimum training requirements, such as the Diploma in Health & Social Care Level 2, it’s also useful to know if caregivers have additional skills, such as emergency first aid, manual handling training, or food and hygiene training. 

If the person needing care has dementia or is disabled, for example, you also need to know if their care worker has appropriate specialist training.

3. Can I meet the care worker before they come for the first time?

The relationship you have with your care worker is vital. After the usual checks on qualifications, training and experience, it’s important to know you’ll be able to effectively communicate with your caregiver. 

This is someone you’ll be inviting into your home on a regular basis and who you’ll be spending a lot of time with, so it’s important to be able to build a rapport.

Good care providers should allow you to meet with your caregiver prior to the care plan starting (there may be a small charge for their time) so you and your family can ask them questions and get to know them a little before they start.

Using a platform like Elunow, you’ll also be able to see a profile of each caregiver, see details about their experience, qualifications and read reviews from other satisfied clients, all before you book care. So if you’re not completely happy with the service from one care worker, you can always find and book a different one next time.

4. Will I see the same care worker each time?

Continuity of care is important, but it’s unlikely that any traditional care provider will guarantee the same caregiver will visit every time, primarily because of shift patterns, illness, or holidays. 

It also depends on the nature of the care plan, as different care workers sometimes provide different services (for example support with bathing, toileting, and dressing, general household cleaning, or perhaps nutrition, diet planning, and meal preparation). 

Even live-in carers, who are available 24×7, need rest breaks and holidays. Caring is a hard job.

5. Is care limited to a single location?

While it is likely to be mainly in the home, having the ability to get out and about on social visits, to shop, or for appointments is an important part of any care package. It’s worth checking to see if the caregiver has their own car and has the relevant insurance cover to drive you around. Some care providers also have the option to serve multiple locations depending on their care worker resources. 

If you or your loved ones require care at multiple cities, homes or locations make sure to ask if this is an option.

6. How will a care plan be developed?

It’s important to find out exactly what care will be provided, and this should be documented in a written care plan. This is important so that all parties understand exactly what’s needed and how often.

For example, is a home visit carried out so that all the person’s relevant care needs, wishes, and abilities are well understood. It’s important that the person is comfortable with the in-home care that is going to be provided, so the care plan should include details of all the tasks required of the carer. It should also be regularly reviewed and updated as circumstances change.

7. Will there be visit reports for care visits?

Visit reports are important for several reasons. 

For family members, they provide peace of mind that care is being provided according to the agreed care plan and that the person receiving care is being well looked after. 

But visit reports also provide a reference point for changes to the care plan if they’re needed. 

Visit reports also provide useful reference notes for healthcare professionals such as GPs or hospital staff, should they be required, for example confirming what mediation was taken at what time or when foods or liquids were last consumed.  

8. Will you ensure personal choices are respected?

The wishes and requests of the person receiving care will always be respected and followed as far as possible. 

That said, care workers have a legal and moral responsibility to safeguard both their clients and themselves, so they may act if they feel someone is at risk. 

For example, calling a GP or next of kin if someone refuses to take medication or to prevent a client from undertaking a potentially harmful act.

9. How much will home care cost?

It’s going to depend on what type of care is needed and how often. If continual home care is required, it may well be more cost-effective to employ a live-in carer who will be on hand day or night. 

But if continual care isn’t necessary, it may be better to book intermittent visits from a caregiver as and when you need them. That could be a few hours each day, or perhaps just a few hours each week. It depends on your circumstances.

Depending on the type of home care provider you opt for, the cost of care will vary but you can usually assume £20-£25 per hour is about the average. 

You may qualify for financial support or help from your local authority, so it’s best to begin by contacting your local adult social care team to request a needs assessment so you know what help might be available.

10. What insurance coverage does the care provider offer?

Damage to property, accidents, and mistakes involving care workers should all be insured against and you should check to ensure that adequate cover is in place. 

As a minimum, you should expect all care workers to be covered for professional indemnity and public liability insurance.

11. What about problems and emergency procedures?

There are several questions to ask here. 

What happens if the care worker is unable to visit the person on the day they should? 

What cover is in place? Is there an emergency contact number as well as a clear policy in place? 

There should also be a well- documented complaints procedure that details how complaints and concerns will be dealt with. 

Verifying the availability of both the customer support team and the care workers themselves is an important consideration.

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