Choosing a home care provider

If you are arranging care privately or have opted for a direct payment you or the person you're looking after has to find the care agency and pay them.

The home care provider will provide a service through a trained team of care workers. This means you may not always have the same person visiting your home, although the agency will do its best to take your choices into account. Independent home care providers are regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Home care providers must meet CQC's national minimum standards and regulations in areas such as training and record-keeping. The CQC has the power to inspect agencies and enforce standards.

Home care providers must vet home care workers before engaging them by taking up references and carrying out Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks on potential employees. Home care providers can also:

  • take over the burden of being an employer - for example, payroll, training, disciplinary issues and insurance  
  • train their homecare workers through national qualifications and service-specific training
  • replace workers when they are ill, on holiday or resign
  • put things right when they go wrong

The provider will want to see you and/or the person you're looking after so that they can assess your needs. This also means that a joint decision can be made about the most appropriate type of care and support.

Things to consider

Before deciding to go ahead with a provider you should ask questions including:

  • does the agency check references? 
  • what training and supervision do they provide? 
  • what is their complaints policy? 
  • who will be responsible for insurance? 
  • is there any out-of-hours or emergency contact if needed? 
  • will they be able to provide staff if your own care worker is ill or away? (if an agency contracts to provide care every day, it must ensure that it does) 

Safeguarding vulnerable groups

The Disclosure and Barring Service DBS makes decisions about who is unsuitable to work or volunteer with vulnerable adults or children. It makes this decision based on information held by various agencies and government departments.

The service decides who is unsuitable to work or volunteer with vulnerable adults or children. 

If someone who is barred from working with children or vulnerable adults is working, volunteering or trying to work or volunteer with these groups, they are breaking the law. They could face a fine and up to five years in prison. 

Employers must apply for an enhanced DBS check (formerly known as a CRB check) when taking on new employees or volunteers to work with vulnerable adults or children. This includes a check of the barred lists. If an organisation fails to make the relevant checks, they can be penalised.

If an organisation dismisses an employee or volunteer for harming a child or vulnerable adult, they must tell the DBS. The DBS must also be notified if any employee or volunteer harms a child or vulnerable adult, but isn't dismissed because they leave voluntarily. If their organisation does not tell the DBS, they will be acting illegally.