Which Publications have a set of questions to ask a home care agency.

Here are our responses to those questions:-

About the care workers
  • Do you interview your recruits and take up at least two written references before offering them work as a careworker?
    YES - We Do -
    Also - During the interview process, the standard of spoken and written English is assessed.  If it is not good enough, the candidate will not be offered a position.
  • Do all your care workers undergo a criminal records check?
    All our staff undergo an enhanced DBS check. If there any significant findings, the candidate will not be offered a position.
  • Will my relative have a regular care worker?
    We try and restrict the number of carers who work with any individual client, but the more visits that your relative has every day, the more carers they are likely to have. This is because our staff do not work from 07:00 until 23:00 every day of the week, and they are also entitled to holidays.
  • What will happen if my relative’s regular careworker is off sick?
    Another care worker will be allocated, preferably some one knows them, but this is not always possible.
  • What happens if a careworker is unable to get to my relative because of adverse weather conditions or heavy traffic?
    If the weather is exceptionally bad, such as heavy snow, then all non-essential calls, such as shopping and outings are cancelled. All available staff are then tasked with looking after clients close to their home.  Snow causes additional problems, as many schools are also closed. 
    Traffic problems in Bracknell do not generally cause too many problems.
  • How many different careworkers are likely to visit my relative in a week, or in a month?
    This depends on how many visits they have per day, and whether they have one or two carers at each visit.
  • What sort of training do the careworkers receive? Do they have an induction period? How often is their training updated?
    New employees generally undergo a five day induction period, which may be shortened to 2 days if they are an already an experienced carer, and have copies of nationally recognised training certificates. Most certificates have to be renewed annually.
  • What qualifications and experience do they have?
    This depends on the individual. Within the first 3 months they must complete "The Care Certificate", or already have completed it in a previous job. All staff receive Manual Handling training at Bracknell and Wokingham College, a "First aid at Work" qualification, and Medication Administration training. 
    In addition, over 80% of our staff either already have, or are working towards a QCF level 2 or higher in Health and Social Care
  • Will careworkers keep written records of the care that has been given, and accurate timesheets for my relative to sign? Can copies of the records be sent to me if I want them?
    When we start caring for your relative, a folder will be put in the house, containing a copy of the care plan, copies of the signed care contract, and space for carers to make notes every time they visit. Regretably, we are unable to send copies of the regular notes to you, but you are of course free to read the notes when you visit. We do not currently use time-sheets, as so many of our clients are unable to sign, or understand what they are signing. 
    Over the next 12 months, we will be implementing an electronic system to replace much of this, including logging of visit times. You will be able to access this information via the internet.
About your relative’s needs
  • How will you match the most suitable careworkers to my relative’s needs?
  • Will you be able to find careworker(s) that can visit at the time my relative needs care?
    If we do not feel that we are able to regularly meet the times that your relative requires, we will not generally offer a package of care. The most difficult times for us, are between 07:00 and 09:00 in the morning, and after 20:00 in the evening. 
  • What happens if a care worker and my relative are incompatible? Could a different care worker be requested?
    Yes - We do sometimes have to change the care workers who visit clients. Providing your relative does not object to large numbers of our carers, this should not normally be a problem.
  • What happens in the event of a medical emergency? Will the agency care worker stay with my relative until help comes? Will they notify me of any problems?
    if your relative is not seriously ill, we may just arrange for a GP or District Nurse visit, and in that case we would not normally stay with them.
    In the event that paramedics have to be called, then generally the care worker will stay with them until help arrives. Alternatively, the care worker will contact the office, and a manager will come out and take over until paramedics arrive. This may be  necessary, because care workers have other clients that they have to visit, and leaving someone else without care could create a fresh problem.
    Unless your relative specifically asks us not to, we will generally call you to advise you of the situation. However, in a severe medical emergency, we may not do that until paramedics have attended, and they may have even taken your relative to hospital before we contact you.
  • How will care workers get into your relative’s home if he/she cannot answer the door? How will that information be kept secure?
    We would ask that you fit a key-safe outside somewhere, so that the care worker can access the house. The key-safe can also be used by Paramedics in the event of an emergency.  The codes for key-safes are stored in an encrypted format.
About the agency

Does the agency have procedures in place to:

  • Protect my relative from accidents, neglect or self-harm?
  • Cover the way staff handle my relative’s money if the careworker shops or pays bills?
  • Instruct staff not to borrow or lend money, not to accept gifts and not take children or pets into my relative’s house without permission?
    Children are ABSOLUTELY not permitted to enter a client's home.
    A pet would only be permitted under very exceptional circumstances, and only after discussion with all parties concerned.
  • Do you have a standard contract for work with private clients? Can we see a copy?
    Yes - Yes
  • What are your hourly charges? Are there any minimum charges (such as a minimum number of hours per week)?
    Our hourly rates are available upon request. There is no minimum number of hours of care per week.
  • What happens on weekends and bank holidays? Is care provided? Is there an additional charge at these times?
    Our weekday and weekend rates are the same, however, we do charge more for public holidays, and special days (I.e. If Christmas day falls on a weekend)
  • How is payment required – by cheque, direct debit or some other way? How often is payment required? Monthly or weekly?
    We invoice for our services on a four weekly basis.
    Our preferred method of invoice delivery is via email.
    Our preferred method of payment is by direct bank transfer.
  • Are there are any extra charges? The prices quoted usually include National Insurance contributions, travel and any VAT payable. Regulated home care services generally qualify as welfare services and are exempt from VAT. However, this does not apply to introductory agencies or domestic only services.
    The only additional charges are if we are required to take your relative out for an appointment, for a shopping trip, or just for an outing. In these cases, we also charge for mileage.
  • What insurance do you have to protect my relative, for example, in the case of damage to property, the careworker making a mistake, or the careworker having an accident in my relative’s home?
    We have full public liability insurance, specifically tailored for the Home Care industry.
  • How do you ensure quality of care is maintained? What are your quality assurance policies and procedures?
    We carry out regular reviews of our services, with a supervisor visiting your relative on a regular basis. You are welcome to be present at those meetings. 
    We carry out regular spot checks of our staff whilst they are visiting clients, and hold regular review meetings with each staff member in our offices.
  • How will you make sure your staff respect my relative's privacy and dignity?
    We have a robust set of policies and procedures in place, and we expect our staff to comply with these. We expect all of our staff to respect the rights of our clients at all times.
  • Who should we contact (outside office hours if necessary) if we have problems with a care worker or the service provided?
    We have a single phone number, which is manned 24 hours a day, although we ask that you do not call us between 23:30 and 06:30 except in an emergency. During these hours, the phones will default to an answering service, but if it is ABSOLUTELY essential to wake us up, there is an option to do this.
  • Is it possible to try you for a short trial period initially, to see how it works out?
    Unfortunately, it is not possible to arrange a trial period.
    Please have a look at the Homecare.co.uk website to get some genuine client feedback.
What the agency should assess

Regardless of whether your relative is engaging an agency via their direct payment or engaging an agency directly (without an assessment from the council), the agency should carry out their own assessment before offering their care plan. 

Care in your Home Ltd will ask about various things, including,  but not limited to:-
  • The help your relative needs and details of any illness and medication
  • Your relative’s ability to see, hear and communicate, and their preferred method of communicating
  • Any problems with continence or mobility and any equipment your relative uses
  • Any dietary requirements and preferences
  • Any religious and cultural needs
  • Who else is involved in supporting your relative
  • Your relative’s mental capacity and whether they are able to make decisions about their care for themselves, all or part of the time
  • Whether anyone else has a legal role to make decisions on behalf of your relative, because they hold power of attorney
  • The safety of careworkers visiting your home, as their employer carries health and safety responsibilities for them.
  • Whether your relative poses a risk to themselves or others by living at home
  • Arrangements for getting access to your relative’s house.