How to find great homecare Part 1

Published: 21/12/2016

Choosing a homecare company is no easy task. It takes detective work. In the first of a series of 3 blog posts, we tell you the 30 questions you must ask to find great homecare.  

30 questions you must ask when you call a homecare agency

Choosing the right homecare is no easy task. It takes detective work.
There are many homecare agencies out there and each one is keen to tell you how good they are. But how do you know if they really are good and if they're the right people for you?
A little insider knowledge helps a lot. Knowing the right questions to ask when you pick up the phone helps you separate the great homecare agencies from the rest.
This is the first of a three part series designed to make sure you find the best possible homecare for your loved one.
Q 1. How long have you been in business?
It’s important to establish the background of a homecare agency. Setting up a homecare agency requires a huge investment in time, finance and regulatory compliance. Only an established company has the sustainability to assure you of total reliability in the long term. A new kid on the block is not a wise choice when it comes to care.
Our answer: We’ve been in business for over 5 years now and have established ourselves as one of the most trustworthy and forward-thinking homecare companies in Trafford. Net Promoter Scores - the globally recognised management tool gauging customer relationship loyalty – are calculated by subtracting percentage of ‘Detractor’ customers from percentage of ‘Promoter’ customers. These are expressed as an absolute number between -100 and + 100. Our Net Promoter Scores are 59 for customers and 86 for staff. Scores over 40 are rare in any industry or country making these off-the-scale World Class results.
Q 2. Are you a national company with branches or locally owned and run?
You need to know what kind of company you’re talking to. Are they a big national provider with local branches? Or are they a locally owned and operated company?
If they're big and national, their local reputation will be entirely dependent on the level of commitment their local manager has to your area. If they're local, their reputation will mean everything to them and they’ll strive to offer you the very highest standards of customer care. Ideally you want the best of both worlds.
Our answer: Bluebird Care Trafford gives you the best of both worlds. We're a locally owned and operated business and totally committed to Trafford and its residents. I’m the owner of the company and I’m Trafford born and bred. Trafford is my home and providing care for the area’s residents is my vocation. You can read my story here.
We’re also part of the highly respected national Bluebird Care homecare organisation. This means we can bring our customers the kind of care, innovation and forward thinking that’s setting industry-leading standards in the sector. Bluebird Care holds us to account across every area of our business including customer care, technology, financial stability, legal compliance and responsible and ethical trading.
Q 3. Are you a member of the UKHCA?
The United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA) is the homecare industry’s professional body with over 2,000 members across the UK. Its mission is to promote the highest standard of homecare services for customers and carers by taking an active role in shaping the future of the sector.
Our answer: Yes, Bluebird Care Trafford is proud to be a member of the UKHCA.
Q 4. How does the CQC rate your service?

The Care Quality Commission is the independent regulator of health and social care in England. The CQC inspects every homecare company in the country with inspectors calling on companies at any time to examine all aspects of a service and speak to its staff and customers.
Our answer: in 2016 Bluebird Care Trafford was awarded a ‘Good’ rating by The Care Quality Commission.There is no higher rating for a homecare company in Trafford.
Q 5. Have you won any awards?
Awards are a great clue to the quality of a company. When award winners are being chosen, the same names invariably come up time and again when judging panels are looking for the cream of the crop. Award winners lead the way in quality, innovation and customer service and only homecare companies who stand well above the rest consistently garner important national and local awards.
Our answer: We’re proud to have won many awards:
Overall Winner: Bluebird Care Franchise of the Year Award 2015 out of over 200 offices across the UK and with an unprecedented independent quality score of 97 out of 100 points.
Winner: Bluebird Care Franchise of the Year Northern Region 2015.
Finalist: Bluebird Care Franchisee of the Year 2016.
Winner: Altrincham & Sale Chamber of Commerce Customer Care Award 2016
Trafford Dignity in Care Award 2013
I’ve personally been awarded Senior Associate Membership of The Royal Society of Medicine and Fellowship of the Royal Society of Arts.
Q 6. What do your customers say about you?
Independently verified customer reviews are one of the most reliable ways to find out about a company. Ask where to find testimonials, customer reviews and customer satisfaction surveys and check them thoroughly. .
Our answer: We have over 70 independent unsolicited customer testimonials, rating our customer care as simply outstanding. 95.7% of ALL independent reviewers give us 5 stars out of a possible 5.
Net Promoter Scores are the globally recognised management tool for measuring customer relationship loyalty. They're calculated by subtracting the percentage of ‘Detractor’ customers from percentage of ‘Promoter’ customers. These are expressed as an absolute number between -100 and + 100.
Our Net Promoter Scores are 59 for customers and 86 for carers. These are unprecedented figures and off the scale world-class results for Bluebird Care Trafford.
Q 7. What do your carers say about you?
Ask to see reviews, ratings and testimonials from care staff as well as customers. The happiest carers have the happiest customers. That's why it's important to find out what carers think of the company they work for. Happy carers are well trained, fully supported and properly financially rewarded. They love their work and feel proud to represent their homecare agency and make a difference in their community.
Our answer: Net Promoter Scores are also given for staff as well as customers. Our Net Promoter Scores are an unprecedented 86 for staff. Again, scores over 40 are rare in any industry or country making these, like our customer scores, off the scale world-class results.
Click here to read a testimonial from a Bluebird Care Trafford care assistant.
Q 8. Do you fully employ your carers on permanent contracts?
This is a really important point and will tell you if a company is fully responsible for choosing, training and overseeing their staff, or if they merely act as an employment or introduction agency.
Without a permanent contract a carer is self-employed and has no rights to sick pay or holiday pay. A care agency using self-employed carers has no responsibility to look after their staff, monitor their performance and update their training.
Even some CQC registered homecare agencies now use self-employed staff to save themselves money.
Our answer: Yes. All Bluebird Care Trafford staff have permanent contracts with us. They are our employees with full employment rights including holiday, sickness and maternity pay. We take care of them at every stage of their career with us. We train them continuously so they’re versed in advanced care techniques. We supervise them on an ongoing basis carefully monitoring their work. We support them every step of the way so they can give our customers the highest standards of homecare.
Q 9. Do you look after all age groups?
This is a good measure of quality. If a homecare agency takes care of children, it has to meet very high standards across the board.
It’s vital to check if a company restricts itself to companionship and housework or has the skills to look after people with specialised needs – children with autism for example, and adults with neurological diseases.
And if a company doesn’t already have the specialised expertise you need, ask if they will train their staff at their own expense.
Our answer: Yes, we do. Bluebird Care Trafford is registered with the Care Quality Commission to deliver personal care to all age groups.
We have the specialised skills to look after children and young people right across the autism spectrum. We take care of people of all ages with learning disabilities. We look after people with serious neurological conditions including Motor Neurone Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke and brain injury. We take expert care of people with all kinds of dementias at all stages of their dementia journey. We look after people with cancer. We also provide end of life care for customers who choose to die at home.
Q 10. Do you do 24-hour companionship and live-in care?
Research shows most older people want to stay in their own homes for the rest of their lives. Giving up a precious home, pets and possessions for a care home is like a bereavement and impacts emotional and physical health, particularly for those with dementia. With live-in care it doesn’t have to be this way.
The right live-in care service is a realistic alternative to a care home in terms of cost. Even better, round the clock one-to-one care in your own home - from the right homecare experts - helps people thrive and often find a new lease of life.
Even if you’re not looking for live-in care right now, it’s well worth asking if a homecare agency does it so you can scale up care in the future if you need to.
Our answer: Yes, we do 24-hour companionship and live-in care. We have a dedicated live-in care service with a team of highly experienced live-in carers who help our customers to enjoy a better life lived longer in their own homes.
Our handpicked live in carers are carefully matched with customers and give them one-to-one care with the support to maintain as much activity and independence as possible. No care home can provide this level of care. For people with dementia, our live-in carers use ground-breaking therapeutic techniques to slow cognitive decline. Often we hear families say, “Mum has come to life again.”
Read How to Find Great Homecare Part 2 

Find out what our customers say about us
To find out more about any of our homecare services, please call us on 0161 928 7151. We’ll be delighted to answer all of your questions.
By Ian Helsby