How to Verify the Quality Standards of Your Selected Home Care Agency
30th June 2023
Many media headlines focus on rare instances of substandard care and create an environment where families and friends are concerned about how to ensure any care they, or a loved one, organise is suitably compassionate, patient and respectful.
As a sector-leading domiciliary home care agency with a strong focus on exceptional standards, Guardian Angel Carers places great value on the trust our clients instil in us to manage the needs and independence of their loved ones. We foster a culture of transparency, inclusion and values throughout our nationwide services.
Here we provide some insights to help those planning to organise care for a relative, or themselves in their own homes, discover what quality standards mean, which are most important, and how to verify the credibility of any homecare services they may be considering.
UK-Wide Home Care Agency Regulation
The first step is to check that any home care services agency is registered and regulated by the appropriate regulatory body. Depending on where you live, that may be:
- England: The Care Quality Commission (CQC).
- Scotland: The Care Inspectorate (CI).
- Wales: The Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW).
Regulatory bodies are there to register, authorise and assess the standards of all home care services. Although there are slight variances between the scoring systems each regulator uses, the objective is to ensure that every agency is registered, subject to assessments and graded according to the quality they demonstrate.
As an overview, a home care agency operating in England with a valid CQC registration number commits to delivering person-centred care, which means they tailor their care services to the individual, taking into account preferences, personal care wishes, autonomy over decision-making and likes and dislikes when deciding how to provide the best care for that person or family in their own home.
Home care professionals must also show dignity and respect as fundamental necessities and seek consent before providing care of any nature, protecting clients from harm and ensuring each service user has the right nutrition and hydration to remain healthy and well.
From a home care agency management perspective, support and care for customers is at the centre of regulatory compliance, with requirements such as maintaining governance standards, deploying a care team who are competent, fully trained and qualified, and having an appropriate complaints system to ensure any issues are promptly logged, investigated and acted upon.
Understanding Regulatory Gradings for Agencies Who Provide Care for Clients in Their Own Home
It is important to note that newer home care agencies may not yet display a regulatory grading purely because the regulator cannot immediately visit and audit every agency. However, it will require the agency to pass multiple initial quality standards assessments before accepting the application to register.
The below list summarises what the audit outcomes mean if you are comparing home care agencies based on their most recent regulatory inspections. The CQC rating outcomes for agencies in England are as follows:
- Outstanding: the agency is doing exceptionally well and surpasses quality expectations.
- Good: the agency meets all regulatory standards and is performing well.
- Requires Improvement: the agency could be performing to a higher standard and has received guidance from the regulator about how and where to improve.
- Inadequate: the agency is not meeting standards and is subject to action against the owner or manager to address serious issues.
Care Assessment Standards in Scotland
In Scotland, the standards vary slightly and are based on a six-point scale, which works on the below system:
- Six points – Excellent
- Four points – Good
- Three points – Adequate
- Two points – Weak
- One point – Unsatisfactory
Referring to the home care agency's most recent regulatory visit and grading can be a helpful indicator of the quality standards available, where inspectors assess a broad range of factors such as record-keeping, safeguarding, staff training and care coordination.
To check whether an agency has registered with the appropriate regulator and whether they have been assessed, members of the public can access the regulator's registers, available through the respective websites of the Care Quality Commission, Care Inspectorate Wales and Scottish Care Inspectorate.
Other Ways to Evaluate Home Care Agency Standards of Care for Clients
While care providers must meet the regulatory standards to be able to provide home care services, families and individuals can also source other information to understand how the agency operates, its ethos and commitment to person-first expert care and compassionate support.
Testimonials and reviews from current or previous customers are good resources where you can learn more about first-hand experiences receiving care. Agencies may provide reviews through their own websites and social media pages, or you can look for ratings through independent sites such as Homecare.co.uk>.
We also recommend prospective home care service users spend a little time researching the agency or reviewing the information they provide. Guardian Angel Carers offers a wealth of knowledge, guidance and support online to help potential clients make informed decisions, with key references including:
- Detailed guidance on different services, what they entail, and when they may be the best option to meet the needs of the person – covering all areas of specialist care and different care structures such as visiting care, overnight care, and live in care.
- A history of the agency, providing insights into our recruitment processes and home care jobs, the background of the founding owners, and their experience in care alongside individual introductions to the owners of every location.
- Our ten commandments, setting out our core values and principles, which apply across the Guardian Angel Carers network.
Your choice of home care agency may depend on several variables such as availability, proximity, and the specialist support and care services on offer. A reputable and established care agency will always be happy to answer questions, arrange in-person meetings at their office or your home, and consult with you to ensure they have the facilities, qualified care staff and capacity to provide the right care you require.
For more information about the local home care available in your area, please find your closest Guardian Angel Carers home care branch via our interactive map for full service and contact details.