1.How close are the organisation and the carers to where your family member lives?
First consideration is whether the individual carer or the care company under consideration can get to your loved one quickly and easily. Making sure that you’re satisfied that travel time is not an issue means that, not only can you rely on the carer attending in a timely manner, but also that the carer is likely to be in a position to pick up emergency or additional care hours as the need arises. Relationships are key in care, so continuity of those relationships is really important.
2.Does the care provider need and hold CQC registration?
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the body which regulates and monitors care organisations of all types, residential homes, domiciliary agencies and homecare services where the company is helping family members with ‘personal care’ bathing, cleaning, going to the toilet, dressing etc. CQC puts care companies through a rigorous approval process and routinely inspects then to ensure that policies, procedures and quality of service are maintained. They provide a forum for people like you and your family members to raise any concerns. CQC have the power to close care companies which do not adhere to the proper standards. If you need to arrange companion calls, shopping trips, bingo, walks in the park, or just watching over your family member while you have a break, then these functions are not covered by CQC, but you still need to make sure safeguarding and quality standards are at the same level. For more information you can visit www.cqc.org.uk.
3.Does your care provider have a ‘Plan B’ to make sure your family member is always looked after?
If you know that your family member needs nor than just interim care, that only a long term weekly solution will do, then it is really important to make sure that contingency arrangements are in place to make sure that care is available. The best way of doing this is to talk to your care provider about call scheduling, illness cover and holiday cover. Of course, carers are people too, they need time off and occasionally they fall ill. The key issue is to explore what contingency arrangements your care provider has in place to ensure that there is a smooth plan to place cover with your loved one that is not panicked and does not detract from the quality of care you expect to receive.
4.Have all carers been DBS checked?
Safeguarding of vulnerable people id the cornerstone of the care sector. Its vital to make sure that anybody you leave to care with your loved ones have had a DBS check carried out which shows any charges or convictions they may off had in the past, and whether they have been dismissed on the basis of ‘abuse’ from any care establishment before. Make sure that anybody sent to you has an up to date DBS check.
5.Can my care provider and/or carer provide you with references?
Carers and care providers, if they are any good, are fiercely proud of their track records and the high esteem of the people they care for. ASK. Ask them to let you talk to others who’ve made use of their services. A good care provider or carer would, (in so far as it keeps to data protection rules), look for ways to show you the positive perspectives their clients have of them. ASK!
6.Does the care organisation show an initial grasp of the type of care your loved one needs?
As stated in the advert, all care needs are different. It is so much more that following a care, plan, administering meds, keeping people clean and comfortable. Good care providers consider the mental health aspects of a client’s care too. Do they suffer from depression or anxiety? How are these issues currently being addressed? How much of the care requirement is actually providing freedom to have a quality of life, rather simply personal care? They will also consider how you, as primary carer, can be supported to go about your own life, your work and interests without feeling that you shouldn’t. A good care provider recognises that guilty feelings are common and that it is important to support both the client and the wider family where possible, and that the best care results from a working partnership between the carer, service user and the family as a whole.
7.Is the care company happy to pop to your home for a chat before arrangements are made?
A good care provider will be happy to meet you, your family member and any other relevant person in the actual care environment to make an assessment of the needs of your family member. They will be interested in all aspects of your relatives home environment, habits, and needs. They will want to know about historic care provisions, care plans and arrangements. It is not possible to conduct a proper initial assessment of care needs over the telephone. If you don’t feel proper consideration is given at this stage, it may be wise to look at another provider.
8.Is the carer interested in your family member as a person, not just as an hour of pay?
The best carers are interested in your family member, not the pay, or the clock. They will talk to them directly. They will ask them (and you) a lot of questions. You will find. With the right carer, that these questions are the same as those they’d ask an independent person, questions about them as a person, likes, dislikes, backgrounds, hobbies, about things that make them happy. If you feel at all uneasy, trust your instincts and ask to consider others.
9.Is the carer able to talk through all aspects of the process of caring for your loved one with you?
The carer you choose should be able to articulate the entire process that has been established for your family member. This includes care planning, reviews, medication, food and nutrition, social and mental health needs. They should pursue excellence in the care of your relative. If they seem vague or indifferent, that is most definitely a red flag.
10.What does you family member think of the carer? Did they develop a rapport?
If your family member is able to articulate their own feelings about their care and in particular the carer, then that matters most of all. It is vital that he or she feels that they like and trust the carer, and that they believe the carer understands them and will listen to them and act in their own best interests. A good carer never leaves a person to eat a meal alone. Or to take medication unsupervised. Or without a little time to chat. If your family member doesn’t think the carer could be a ‘friend’ then find another.