How to find great homecare Part 2

Published: 22/05/2019

The second instalment of our must-read series on how to find great homecare with 30 questions you musk ask when you call a homecare agency.


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 second of a three part series designed to make sure you find the best possible homecare for your loved one. Check out part 1 of our series here.
Q 11 Are you experts in my condition?
Great homecare goes far beyond the usual services of companionship and domestic chores. A company with advanced skills in your condition can help you thrive in the face of serious health challenges. When it comes to dementia, for example, highly specialised homecare can slow the progression of the disease and bring greatly improved quality of life.
Our answer:
We are experts in homecare for all types of dementia including the most prevalent kind, Alzheimer’s disease, as well as stroke, brain injury, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Motor Neurone Disease and cancer.
We focus on positive outcomes even when a prognosis leaves little room for hope. This isn’t just a bold claim. These are measurable results we can prove.
When it comes to dementias, for example, our team is trained in the latest therapeutic techniques proven to slow the progress of dementia and re-connect sufferers with the world. We see turnarounds every day as our customers regain their confidence and joy in life and regain communication with their loved ones.
These are results that delight our customers and families and we’re very proud of the glowing testimonials they give to confirm our wonderful care assistants are making a difference every day.
End of life care is another specialist area for us and one we have high level expertise in. Our team is team trained to deliver expert palliative care to customers allowing them to die comfortably and with dignity in their own homes.
Q 12 How many carers will I see?
Continuity of care is something that homecare customers prize very highly. And understandably so. Customers want to see the familiar faces of carers who know and understand them well. Unfortunately, some customers endure a seemingly endless stream of new carers and often don’t know from one day to the next who will visit them.
Our answer:
We see continuity of care as a pivotal part of achieving positive results for customers. We restrict the number of carers a customer sees to a minimum. Customers see carers they know and feel comfortable with. These regular carers know customers well enough to spot subtle day to day differences in their mood or condition and can respond quickly. They have the time to build affectionate bonds with a customer. Customers often tell us how much they love their carers.
It’s important to realise that seeing just one carer is not the best option for a customer’s well-being. We create small teams of carers for each customers for important reasons. Firstly, a carer may not be available if they’re taking time off on holiday or due to illness. In this event another well-known carer will be available. Secondly, a small team of carers means more eyes on a customer with more people at close hand to monitor a customer’s situation and get a full picture of their progress.
Q 13 How do you choose your carers?
Homecare companies are measured above all by the quality of their care assistants. These are the people customers invite into their homes and trust with their care often when they’re at their most vulnerable.
Our answer:
Only a handful of applicants are asked to join our team of care assistants.
Our selection process is a long one and we cover every base to make sure we have the right people to look after our customers.
We start with values. We want people who share our values and demonstrate kindness, compassion, honesty, patience and reliability. We use a proven system of psychometric testing to accurately screen applicants and confirm the people with the qualities we want. We then interview them at length to find out who they are, what skills they have and how much commitment they have to their role. We study their backgrounds and talk to people who know them.
Only when every box has been ticked do we invite them for training. We continue to assess them throughout an intensive training programme where they learn about how to look after customers the Bluebird Care Trafford way. After training, they have still more to prove as they shadow experienced carers until they have proved themselves fully and are ready to become one of our fully fledged care assistants.
Q 14 How do you train your carers?
Training of carers is a crucial indicator quality. Continuous in-depth training is the only way to ensure customers receive great care and the benefits of the latest new techniques to improve quality of life and longevity. Of course this requires substantial investment. Many homecare companies don’t make this investment.
Our answer:
Training is something we take very seriously. From the moment a carer joins our team they receive extensive, on-going training. Our carers are the best-educated in Trafford.
We have our own trainers who educate and monitor our staff right through their careers. We also call upon external trainers who are experts in the ground-breaking therapeutic techniques to give our staff the skills to improve customers’ lives far beyond the levels of a standard homecare service.
Q 15 Do you pay your carers properly?
It’s very important to find out how well a care agency treats its staff. Better rewarded staff are more motivated to deliver excellence and stay with a care company for longer. For customers, this means more continuity of care and the reassurance of seeing the same familiar carers more often.
Our answer:
Yes, we do. Our philosophy has always been ‘happy carers make happy customers’. We take looking after our carers seriously and that includes paying them properly for all their time.
As well as honouring our statutory obligations, we also give our carers a range of additional benefits exclusive to Bluebird Care Trafford including:
Free medical cover
Free vehicle breakdown and recovery cover
28 days’ paid holiday each year
Q 16 Do you pay your carers for travel time and mileage?
A care assistant’s day includes more than just time spent taking care of a customer at an hourly rate. Days also include travel time between calls. Quite rightly, the law states this time must be paid for.
Unfortunately not all companies pay travel time. Or they pay at a derisory rate. When their pay is calculated overall, these care assistants sometimes earn less than Minimum Wage. It’s a deplorable situation.
Our answer:
Yes, we do. In fact we pay them for their travel time at the same high hourly rate we pay them for time spent caring. We also pay a generous mileage allowance. This is more than we’re obliged to pay and significantly more than other homecare agencies pay their teams. We reward our carers properly for their dedication to our customers and will continue to do so.
Q 17 Do you pay your carers for training time?
Not all homecare agencies pay their care assistants for the time they spend in training. Again, as in the case of underpaying travel time, this is a way for unscrupulous companies to save themselves money.
Our answer:
Yes we do pay our carers for training time. We spend a lot of time training our staff and we pay them properly for every minute they spend in training throughout their career with us.
Q 18 Will my care plan be results based?
The quality of a care plan is central to the success of care but for many homecare agencies, care plans are little more than ‘to do’ lists of domestic tasks.
Our answer:
Our care plans are markedly different. At Bluebird Care Trafford, our care plans are based on ensuring customers achieve their unique goals. Tasks and techniques are incorporated as part of an overall plan to extend the quality of a customer’s life and results are measured against goals
In creating your care plan, we’ll work closely with you to understand how you tick, what helps you most and how you want your life to unfold. We’ll then design a care plan specifically to achieve your goals.
Q 19 Do your carers administer medication to level 3?
This is another good indicator of quality. Some homecare companies steer clear of medication administration as it involves the cost of substantial extra training and monitoring of staff. They stick to simply prompting customers to take their medication.
Our answer:
Yes, our care assistants have the expertise to administer medications to level 3. They are also able to carry out specialist clinical procedures including PEG feeding, stoma care and catheter care. Their medication administration training is extensive and continuous and they continually receive refresher training and medication updates.
Q 20 How do you monitor care visits?
Every visit a homecare customer makes to a customer needs by law to be recorded and evaluated. This is crucial quality control yet there is a vast disparity between the monitoring practices of homecare companies.
Our answer:
No other homecare company in Trafford has monitoring capabilities to match ours. We use the most advanced systems available to monitor the homecare visits of our customers with maximum safety, accuracy and transparency.
Our ground-breaking PASSsystem uses mobile technology to give live reporting on every care visit. We know from minute to minute where our staff are and how they are helping customers. We measure the length of time they spend in a customer’s home. We respond instantly to issues. We alert our carers immediately to any care plan changes. Medication changes, for example, are instantly passed on to care assistants. Find out more about the PASSsystem here
Our system creates ‘joined up’ care for better customer health. Using the openPASS app, live visit reports are shared with a customer’s wider circle including nominated healthcare professionals and family members. Using the app, a daughter in Altrincham or Australia can check on Mum in real time by smartphone.
Watch out for the final part of this essential series next week.
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
Check out Part 1 of our How to find Great Homecare series

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