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How do I choose a home care agency?

Choosing a home care agency can be a daunting experience, particularly if it’s something you’ve never had to think about before. Here is a brief guide to help you choose the right care agency for your loved one and ensure that they receive the quality care they deserve.

How do I choose a home care agency?

If you have a loved one who is in need of care or is likely to be in need of care in the near future, you will no doubt have a lot of questions. Choosing a home care agency can be a daunting experience, particularly if it’s something you’ve never had to think about before. Here is a brief guide to help you choose the right care agency for your loved one and ensure that they receive the quality care they deserve.

Compile a list of what you require from a care agency

The first step is to be clear as to your requirements. No two individuals have exactly the same care needs so it’s important that you think carefully about what your loved one needs. Be honest and realistic; if you currently care for the individual yourself but are finding it too much, think about how much time you can commit to continuing to care but be sure not to over-stretch yourself. Here are some of the main things to consider when compiling your list:

  • How often do you want the carer to visit?
  • What is your budget?
  • What time of day do you want the carer to visit and on how many days of the week?
  • Are there any special requirements, such as dementia care or other health matters?
  • Are there any special activities you want the carer to undertake?
  • What does the care recipient need help with and how often?
  • How many hours and days of the week can you afford to have the carer visit?
  • What level of care is needed? Is full-time care required or a lower level of companion care?

This can be harder than it sounds, so liaise with friends and family members who are also involved with the care recipient in order to build up the fullest possible picture of their care needs. Think very carefully about the level of home care your loved one needs. Are they struggling to cope with most everyday tasks or are they fairly independent and needing a less involved and less frequent level of care?

Have they been merely coping for some time but could do with regular support to make their life easier? Do they need a care at home service every day of the week, or would just a few days suffice? Will friends or family members be available to check in on them between care visits if necessary? Once your list is complete, you’re ready to move onto the next step.

List all the potentially suitable care agencies

There are numerous online directories with the details of care agencies so you should have no trouble putting together a comprehensive list. Ask friends, family members and colleagues to ask around for recommendations too if you don’t know anyone with experience of care agencies. Someone is bound to know someone else who can recommend a care agency they’ve used.

It’s also vital that you check that any agencies on your list are regulated by the healthcare regulator. This will give you peace of mind, as any such agencies will have passed checks and inspections to ensure that they provide a high level of care. You should, in addition, check that any shortlisted agencies are members of the United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA). The association publishes a Code of Practice for all members to adhere to.

Dulcie’s story

Dulcie is one of our longest serving customers. In this short video, she talks through the reasons behind her, and her family’s decision to choose full-time home care rather than the care home.

Finalise your shortlist

After compiling your list, if it’s a little long, you’ll need to cut it down to make your search more manageable. The field of elderly care is highly competitive in some areas so don’t worry if you have to remove several agencies from your list. There will be plenty more that are suitable. Research each of the agencies and try to find reviews online. Find out what services they offer and eliminate any that don’t fulfil all your requirements. Make sure you also discount any that aren’t registered or accredited by the relevant bodies.

Contact the agencies, one by one

Call each of the agencies, and meet with any you like the sound of where possible. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions or to take notes during this process. Feel free to ask a friend or relative to join you if this makes you feel more comfortable. Remember that you are interviewing the care agencies and it’s up to you who you hire. A reputable care agency will be able to answer all your questions and provide reassurance about your loved one’s care. Ask for references from satisfied clients.

While researching and choosing a care agency might seem like a lot of work, you’ll know when you find the perfect match for your loved one. You should feel comfortable around the agency staff and should be confident that your family member or friend will receive a high level of care. And remember, you can always switch to another agency at a later date if you aren’t happy for any reason.

Finally, size matters! The very best agencies need to have reached critical mass in order to build a substantial base of suitably qualified and vetted carers. Not only does this ensure the best possible fit in terms of skills and personality traits that will work best for your loved one, but it ensures that the agency can rapidly provide a substitute in the event of illness or absence.

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