What questions should you ask when researching a home care agency?
Making the decision to look into home care for a loved one is a big one. There are many factors that you’ll want to consider, and we understand that the process may seem daunting and that emotions will likely be running high.
We want to help as much as possible, so below is a list of some of the questions you should ask to help you make an informed decision on the home care agency that’s right for you and your family.
1. What are their reviews like?
You’d check product reviews when you’re shopping online, and so looking at reviews when choosing a home care agency should be no different.
There is no better way to get a genuine feel for the quality of a business than by reading the firsthand experiences of their actual customers - good and bad.
When looking at reviews, ensure you’re looking at reviews uploaded to third party websites such as Google, Facebook, Homecare.co.uk or Trustpilot. This way, the reviews have been verified and so it’s highly unlikely that they are fake.
As you’d imagine, just like with online shopping, by reading reviews you will discover a range of different quality agencies. In shopping terms, think Asda, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose. Home care agencies are just the same, you really get what you pay for, and reading reviews can help you separate the good from the bad.
2. What accreditations and awards do they hold?
This is an important one, as holding a number of well-regarded accreditations can be a good indicator of a home care agency’s legitimacy and commitment to high quality service.
A key one to look out for is their Care Quality Commission (CQC) rating. CQC is a bit like Ofsted for schools, they independently review the quality of a care agency and its leadership. If this isn’t prominently displayed on their website, they may have been given a poor rating.
It’s also worth noting if they have won any care industry awards. At Burley’s, we are very proud to have been awarded Homecare.co.uk’s Top 20 Home Care Groups Award three years running. Winning awards such as these can help you identify a home care agency that goes above and beyond to provide outstanding home care.
3. What is the manager’s level of home care knowledge?
This may not be a question that immediately comes to mind, but a good home care agency manager will know the ins and outs of the home care industry like the back of their hand.
They should have great knowledge and be highly sympathetic of each possible reason that someone may be looking into home care, and therefore be able to offer impartial, honest and compassionate advice.
They should be able to answer all your questions with ease, putting your mind at rest that your loved one will be in the best possible hands.
It may also be worth asking how long the manager has been with the agency.
4.How many years have they been in business, and have they moved locations?
If a home care agency has been in business for a good few years, and has not recently moved to new premises, this is a good sign.
It may be surprising to learn that by moving locations, a home care agency that previously got a poor CQC rating can essentially start from scratch. They do not have to show their previous negative ratings at all. Therefore, it’s definitely worth checking out how long they have been in their current location before making any final decisions.
5. Can they provide specialist care for more complex conditions?
At the end of the day, ensuring that your loved one gets the standard of care that their unique needs require is the most important thing.
Because of this, check that a home care agency has carers that are highly experienced in working with individuals with different medical needs, conditions such as Parkinson’s and Dementia, and mental and physical disabilities.
On the same lines, it’s also worth asking for examples of the type of personalised care plan that they would put in place for your loved one, so that you can see how customer-focussed their business is.
6. What made the owners go into the home care business?
This is a question that we get asked a lot, and we think that our answer speaks volumes. We started Burley’s Home Care because of first hand experience in not being given choices in how home care and live in care was provided for our own family members. Because of this, we are highly invested in ensuring that the care we provide at Burley’s is second to none.
When speaking to other shortlisted home care agencies, why not ask them this same question? You will probably be able to tell if their answer feels genuine.
7. What training do their caregivers receive?
It is essential to know that not only have an agency’s carers received full, accredited training at the start of their employment, but that this training is regular and ongoing.
For example, at Burley’s out training programmes have been accredited by the Care Quality Commission, and we have been recognised as leaders in delivering care courses. Each of our carers has their own personalised training plans that are designed with the individual's experience in mind, covering all aspects of care from dementia support to end of life care.
As standard, we conduct thorough, in-person training with our carers every three months minimum. It is unacceptable for a care agency to simply have its carers complete an online training programme and to then let them loose on the local community.
Additionally, it is well worth asking if their carers have completed or are enrolled in NVQ 2s. These extra levels of training show a commitment to learning, developing team skills and providing a higher standard of care.
Burley’s are here to help
We hope that the information above is useful and helps you to make a fully informed home care agency decision that is right for your family. If you have any questions at all, our friendly team would be more than happy to talk. Feel free to call us on 0345 512 0022 or fill in our contact form.