Searching for care can be a stressful time and it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between different care agencies when doing research. To help you find the right care agency for your loved one, we’ve created a list of questions you can ask home care agencies when you contact them for the first time.

Note: If you have already spoken to an agency and arranged an assessment, you might be interested in 5 questions you should ask during your care assessment.

1) What care services do you offer?

Home care (in which a carer visits a person’s home) takes many forms, so it is helpful to know which types of care an agency can offer and whether they suit your needs.

For example, they may offer:

  • Night time care
  • Live-in care
  • Companionship care

If you’re not sure which care type your loved one needs, you can read our guide to domiciliary care services.

Don’t be afraid to ask exactly what a service includes. For example; does companionship care including taking your loved one out for the day? If your loved one has any pets that need to be walked or fed, ask if the agency can help with this.

Some agencies have nurses that are able to assist with medication. If this is required it’s important to ask if the agency has any qualified nurses on their staff.

2) How flexible can the carer’s visits be?

Make sure you understand whether you will need the carer to visit at set weekly times, or if you can amend the times of the carer’s visits to suit your schedule. This is important if you will be providing some of the care yourself and have inconsistent working hours.

You should also ask what notice you have to give to cancel visits and what happens if your loved one is admitted into hospital. Knowing this will save you paying for visits that your loved one does not need.

3) Will my loved one have dedicated carers?

Continuity of care is the biggest indicator of customer satisfaction. A dedicated carer (or small team of carers) minimises the number of new people entering your loved one’s house. If the person needing care is easily confused or struggles with new people, a small dedicated team can have a huge impact.

However, carers are human and will fall ill from time to time. It can be very comforting to know that your agency has a plan in place if this happens. Ask if they have a contingency plan or how they will manage handing over the duties to a carer who hasn’t visited before.

Questions continue below.

Printable care assessment questions

Click the button below to view and print your own list of Six questions you should ask home care agencies about their services, Five questions you should ask during your care assessment and your free decision form to help you choose the right care agency for you.

4) How will you choose the best carer for my loved one?

It’s important that your carer is someone you and your loved one trust. Your agency may select a carer for you, or you may be presented with a list of available carers to choose from.

This is a good opportunity to ask any questions that will make you confident the right carer will be selected. Will the carer be local? If you need care in an area with little public transport, are there carers that can drive? If you have specific language requirements, do they have a carer that speaks that language?

You may also want to meet the carer before the care package starts (time permitting). This will allow you to introduce them to your loved one and help you all feel more comfortable inviting them into the household.

5) Do you charge a fixed price?

Some agencies charge a different rate for weekend or late night visits. Find this out early to avoid a surprise in the future. Even if you don’t think this is relevant at this stage, it is best to ask in case the care package has to change in the future.

Note: If you receive a direct payment from the council, ask if the agency offers an Individual Service Fund (ISF). This means the agency will manage the payment from the council making paying for your care more simple.

6) Could you send me any client testimonials?

Client reviews are the best indicator of service quality. This is particularly helpful if the agency doesn’t have an inspection rating yet (agencies are only inspected once they have been in operation for a period of time). For a more trusted opinion, ask to speak to a current client on the phone or in person.

What happens next?

Normally, the next step will be to meet with the agency. How quickly you are able to meet will determine how quickly the care can start. If you’re looking for care to start urgently, make sure the agency is aware that you’d like to meet as soon as possible.

If you are wondering what to ask during this meeting, you can read our 5 questions you should ask during your care assessment.

Looking to start your care search? Care Sourcer’s free service offers a searchable directory of local care agencies. If you need care urgently, our team of care experts are also available by telephone to guide you through the process.