When you contact an organisation providing care at home you want to be sure that it offers a high quality service, with trained staff who can provide the care you need. You should be specific about the kind of help you want, and do not hesitate to ask questions.
It is important that you know exactly what to expect, how much and what you will be paying for, and have confidence that those visiting your home are capable of providing what you need.
It would be useful if you could arrange to have a relative or friend with you when you meet with or talk to the agency.
If you have a sight or hearing impairment ask whether home care staff have had training in caring for people with a sensory impairment.
If the organisation does not need to be registered you might ask the manager for references from satisfied clients. Ask to see the organisation's brochure and a copy of any code of conduct that they have for their staff. Your may find that help from more than one organisation may be necessary to provide everything you need.
All staff giving personal or nursing care need to be checked by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and against the Protection of Vulnerable Adults (POVA) register (or POCA where working with children is involved).
Questions to ask when choosing a home care service
- Will you visit me in my own home to discuss what help I need?
- What happens if the care I need changes?
- Have all your carers been properly screened, interviewed and their references checked?
- Do all your carers have the appropriate training and qualifications?
- Will nursing care always be given by a qualified nurse?
- Have all staff giving personal or nursing care had police checks?
- How do you supervise your carers to check they are doing what has been agreed?
- What help can you provide in an emergency?
- Who do I contact in an emergency?
- Who will have details about me and my care?
- What personal information do I have to provide?
- What records do you ask your carers to keep if they are handling my money (for example, if he or she is doing shopping for me)?
- What are your charges for daily, evening, weekend and 24 hour care?
- Is anything charged as an extra
- Will I get written confirmation of the cost of my care before it starts?
- Will I be notified in advance about any changes in charges
- How do I pay you (for example, do you bill me each week)?
- Do you have insurance that covers public and employer liability insurance and losses arising from dishonesty
- Can I see confirmation in writing of your insurance cover?
- What household insurance do I need (in case a worker injures him or herself, or household items get broken)?
- Do I have to provide any equipment?
- What equipment do your carers provide?
- What can I do if I don't get on with my carer or need to complain?
- What is your complaints procedure?
Changes / cancellations
- How much notice do I have to give if I need to cancel a session or the service altogether?
- Is there a charge if I have to cancel the service at short notice?
- Will you tell me in advance if my carer cannot come at the usual time?
- Will you tell me in advance if a different carer will be coming?
- Will you tell me in advance if you have to cancel my service at any time?
- Can I give my carers presents, for example, at Christmas?
- Are your carers allowed to sign wills?