Six top tips

Six top tips to consider when choosing homecare

Research and review

Research two to three homecare providers. Ask people you know who may have engaged a certain organisation. If you’re reviewing their websites you’ll probably gain an impression as to which one instils you with the most confidence but talking to their main contact is the real “litmus” test. A website may not be all it claims to be even though it speaks of relevant experience and expertise. Speak to them over the phone and see if you feel as if they’re really listening to you? You may be emotional because of circumstances; are they understanding and considerate of that? Now meet them in person. Often, if you’ve felt comfortable when speaking to them on the phone that will carry through when you meet in person at the next stage.

Credibility and capability

Can they do what they claim to do? Check out their credentials. Are they highly rated with an industry body such as the Care Quality Commission (CQC) Ask to see the report. How long have they been established? Do they provide Registered Nurses as well as carers? Having nursing expertise readily available is a strong pointer that if, for instance, a patient’s need escalated from homecare to a requirement for specialist home nursing that the organisation could interweave both within the service. Is one or more of the top management ex-clinicians? This is a strong pointer to a homecare organisation’s capability and credibility. To be clinically-led is always best-practise for homecare.

Sensitivity and discretion

Being a patient invariably carries a high degree of vulnerability and dependency and letting someone into our home environment can be a little daunting. Sense their approach. Does the organisation’s representative speak in purely clinical matters or do they show an understanding of emotional and cultural needs which are similarly important? You’ll be looking for evidence of kindness, consideration and sensitivity to a patient’s dignity. Finally, discretion is all. Particularly where a patient has had a prominent public profile, a non-disclosure agreement should be offered; signed from a company and carer’s perspective.

Availability and flexibility

Can the organisation readily provide the levels of care that you or your loved one require? Do they take time to understand a patient’s character so, in turn, to assign the best-suited nurse or carer? Carer-patient personality mix is so important. Willingness to allow you to meet a proposed nurse or carer before you engage an organisation is a real vote of confidence. Check their duty of care. What is the availability of the Head of the organisation’s clinical lead in terms of keeping you or other relatives informed of the patient’s progress and well-being? 24-7 access to person in direct charge of the care service you’ve engaged is essential because worrying about a loved one’s health doesn’t take time off. Does the organisation speak about working closely with multi-disciplinary teams around the patient? The best care is collaborative care…

Commitment and consistency

What is their plan for continuity of care? For instance, if a patient required a 24-hour care plan, would they assign two carers on shifts who will together, become a large part of the patient’s life? Will they always assign the same nurse or carer to meet those levels? If they don’t the service will be diluted and the patient will feel that. Determine their commitment. The most successful care plans are those tailored to personal needs and undertaken by a nurse or carer who will be dedicated to their patient. Ask for a written copy of the care plan, too. If they value their reputation as well as care for the service they deliver, they’ll ask you for feedback, too.

Fees and frequency

How do they expect to be paid? How often? What exactly does the service fee include? Payment within seven days is quite usual once a timesheet has been submitted to the organisation from a nurse or carer. Check if they focus on care or commerce. If the company raises the question of fees before covering any of the above – unless you have mentioned it first – the chances are that they focus more on fee income than patient well-being. Make your decision. If you’ve taken all of the above into account you are equipped to make an informed and proper decision about who is best placed to provide homecare for you or a loved one.