7 Questions you should ask when choosing a Homecare Company

It is a difficult decision deciding how best to care for a relative or friend when they are no longer able to maintain their optimum level of independence.


It is a difficult decision deciding how best to care for a relative or friend when they are no longer able to maintain their optimum level of independence.

It is a difficult decision deciding how best to care for a relative or friend when they are no longer able to maintain their optimum level of independence.

Domiciliary care, homecare or care at home as it is often referred to as, offers many different levels and types of care and support to enable people to remain independent at home. 

Care at home enables people to remain in their home environment surrounded by all things familiar to them, and prevents them from being removed from their friends and community.  It offers peace of mind for families and loved ones knowing that care assistants are calling regularly when they cannot always be there.  Homecare packages are flexible and they are tailored to meet each individual persons needs, there is no minimum or maximum limit to the support we can offer.

When you have decided that care at home is the right option, how do you know which company to choose?

If this is your first experience of care at home, knowing the correct questions to ask and the answers you need to hear could make the difference in choosing a good care company.

1. Is the Care Company well-established in your local area? 

It is important to know the background of a Homecare company.  Have they been operating long?  Are they well known? Are they sustainable and reliable in the long term? 
Having reassurance that the company you do choose is well-known with a strong reputation can start to put your mind at ease.  If the company has been in operation for a long period of time, it would imply that they are well-established and are highly likely to have extensive experience and knowledge of providing care at home.
2. Is the comUKHCApany a member of the UKHCA? 

The UKHCA (United Kingdom Homecare Association) is the professional and representative association for homecare providers in the independent, voluntary, non-profit, and statutory sectors.  The UKHCA represent over 2000 members throughout the UK, and their mission is to promote high quality, sustainable care services so people can continue to live at home.  Companies that join the UKHCA
are agreeing to abide by the UKHCA’s Code of Practice.


3. How does their Regulatory Body rate them?

In Northern Ireland the independent regulatory body is the RQIA (Regulation and Quality Improvement Agency).  The RQIA is responsible for monitoring and inspecting the availability and quality of Health and Social Care services in Northern Ireland.  The RQIA carry out annual inspections on domiciliary care agencies, and these inspections are based on minimum care standards, and that the services provided reach the standards laid out by the Department of Health, and expected by the public.
To view inspections of domiciliary care providers, please click here



4. What do their past or current Customers say about them?
Customer reviews and testimonials are one of the most reliable sources of information about a company and the services they provide.  Sourcing a service such as care at home is a big commitment so it is important to have reassurance that the company you choose has a positive reputation with satisfied customers, past and present.  Referring to the company’s reviews and testimonials will give you a greater insight as to how their customers feel about the care they receive from them.   

5. How do they select their Care Assistants?
When choosing a homecare company, you are not solely choosing the company, but you are choosing the care assistants that will be providing the care.  It is important to have the knowledge and guarantee that the care assistants who visit your loved one are selected upon their personal attributes and experience, and they are trained to the highest standard.  In accordance to regulations it is also important to ensure that certain checks have been completed: satisfactory references from previous employers; an Enhanced Access NI check carried out by that company; and, as of 31st March, 2017, it will be compulsory for all domiciliary care assistants to be registered with the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC).
6. What services does the company offer?
It is important to establish whether a homecare company can meet your loved ones needs through the services they offer.  Knowing that the company provides a wide range of different types of services, and that they can care for customers who have different conditions and levels of need, should provide reassurance that whatever situation you are facing they will be able to support you and your loved one for the duration of time you require their service.
 7. Do they offer flexibility and reliability?
Providing care and support in the community is an ever changing environment.  It is important to know that if your loved ones needs fluctuate that the homecare company will do their best to accommodate these changes.     
If you depend upon the company and their care assistants to ensure the well-being of your loved one, then it is reassurance for you to know that whatever the situation (e.g. adverse weather conditions, staff sickness, road closures etc.) they will always do their upmost to provide the care requested or required.

Having established the information you should find out about a Homecare company before you choose their services, find out how Bluebird Care Coleraine answers these questions?

1. Are we well-established in the local area?
We have been providing care and support services in our area for almost 8 years, opening our doors in Coleraine in May 2009.  Since then, we have expanded our services from the North Coast and we serve customers far and wide in Coleraine, Castlerock, Portrush, Portstewart, Kilrea, Aghadowey, Ballymoney, Ballycastle, Cloughmills, Ballymena, as far as Ballyclare and all surrounding areas. 
Although we are part of a UK and Ireland wide network, Bluebird Care Coleraine is locally owned and committed to providing a high quality service that we believe our customers expect and deserve.  The Bluebird Care Network is highly respected throughout the UK and Ireland, and we are held accountable to Bluebird Care’s standards and practices as well as our regulatory body.

2. Are we members of the UKHCA?
At Bluebird Care Coleraine, we are proud members of the UKHCA.  

3. How are we rated by the RQIA?
Our last RQIA inspection took place in June 2016.  We received a very positive RQIA report, with no recommendations for improvement.  We are extremely proud of this last inspection and we continue to strive for excellence in our service.
To view our inspections visit the RQIA website.

4. What do our past and current Customers say?
At Bluebird Care Coleraine, we value customer feedback as we believe that it gives us a true perspective of the services we provide.

We have recently started to use a 3rd party (Working Feedback) to process our customer feedback, and we appreciate all evaluations of our service.

View our customer testimonials here

5. How do we select our Care Assistants?

We take pride in our care assistants and know the important role they play in our company.  Following their acceptance at interview, our care assistants receive full training which includes: induction, food hygiene, fire safety, safeguarding, medication, and moving and handling.  We ensure that regular updates are maintained on all training.  In addition to mandatory training, we also provide opportunities for our care assistants to receive training in specialisms such as: Dementia; Parkinson’s Disease; Palliative Care, and End of Life Care. 

All of our care assistants undertake a full Enhanced Access NI check, and we must receive 2 references before their acceptance is completed.

Our care assistants cannot start to work in the community until all their training and checks have been completed, and they complete a training period where they are guided and supported by experienced staff and our supervisors.

6. What services do we offer?

We offer a wide variety of services to individuals aged 18 or over who require assistance to enable them to live independently in their home environment.  We believe that our customer, and their needs and wishes should be at the forefront of the service we provide for them.  In setting up care plans, we tailor them specifically for each customer individually.  Our services include: personal care and showering; medication administration; meal preparation; sitting services; companionship and outings; light household chores; overnight stays; reablement care; palliative care; Dementia care; Parkinson’s care; end of life care; and, Self Directed Support.  Whatever your loved ones needs, we will also do our best to meet them.  

7. Are we flexible and reliable?
With 10 years experience in the domiciliary care sector, we understand that nothing stands still for long.  We know and understand that each customer is different and their needs also vary.  At Bluebird Care Coleraine we pride ourselves on that understanding and we work alongside our customers and their families to ensure that when their needs change we will be there to adapt to those changes, should that be an increase or a decrease in the service they require, a hospital admission, a period of time away in respite or on holiday, or that family or friends are with them and their service is not required at that time.
We provide care and support 365 days a year, bank holidays and weekends do not apply to us, so if you require your care, we will provide it.  Weather conditions can prove to be problematic at times, but if there is a will there’s a way and we will always do our best to reach our customers.