10 Questions to Ask Before Engaging a Home Care Service Provider

With so many different home care providers out there, how do you know which one is right for you?

Obviously, you want someone who is capable, organised and reliable. But you also need flexibility, value for money, and support that can grow with you as your needs change. Even more importantly, you want to be seen as a person and treated with respect.

Here are 10 questions to ask a service provider before you choose. The answers will help you see if the organisation’s ethos, approach and services are likely to suit you or not.


10 Questions to Ask Before Engaging a Home Care Service Provider

If you or your loved one needs home care due to age or disability, then you suddenly find yourself faced with deciding on a service provider.

And there are so many to pick from! Depending on your postcode, MyAgedCare’s provider search may deliver around 500 options in your area.

Each one of them should meet the Aged Care Quality Standards or the NDIS Practice Standards. And yet, many people receiving in-home care will tell you that they notice significant differences between providers in terms of their ethos, flexibility and the respect they’re shown.

So, if it’s time to choose a home care service provider, here are 10 questions to ask.


1.     What makes your organisation stand out?

This question reveals whether you’re dealing with people who believe in the work they do and are motivated to make a difference. Strong organisations have a clear sense of purpose and a set of values that infuse their approach.

Answers to this question can get a bit vague and woolly so ask for examples of how those values are demonstrated in practice.

Focused Health Care began because we could see that other services had become too rigid and bureaucratic to respond to people’s individual needs.

Our desire to be a positive alternative is expressed in the way we operate. We are:

  • Run by Registered Nurses, meaning we operate from a deep understanding of your clinical and emotional needs
  • Relational, meaning we enjoy getting to know you and try to match you with carers who share your interests or sense of humour

Responsive, ensuring you have 24/7 phone access to a Registered Nurse.


2.     Who makes the decisions in your organisation?

Is it the accountants, and the high-level managers removed from the front line? Or is it people who regularly interact with clients and understand the need for holistic care?

Obviously, any organisation needs to manage its staff and its money well. But those aren’t the only things that matter when managing a care organisation. Is there time for compassion? Is there flexibility to meet an individual’s needs? Is there a commitment to high clinical standards?

You’ll quickly feel it when an organisation is run by beancounters. That’s why we put Registered Nurses in the driving seat at Focused Health Care. It means your care needs are the key consideration in our decision making.


3.     What services do you offer?

This is where you start to drill down into the details. You’ll know what services you need right now but it’s worth thinking about what you might need in the future too.

Does the organisation offer a range of services, including nursing care, personal care like showering, home and garden maintenance, shopping or meal delivery, and taking you out to social events or outings?

You might not need all of that right now but your needs may change. If you’ve chosen an organisation that offers a wide range of services, you don’t need to change providers at that point. You can receive a wider range of care from an organisation you’re already familiar with. That consistency is worth a lot.

(You can check out Focused Health Care’s extensive range of in-home services here).


4.     What’s your minimum shift?

For most organisations, it’s three hours. So, if you have funding for three hours of support per week, you’ll get it all in one go then wait for the week to pass until help comes again.

A policy like that is designed to suit the service provider rather than the client. That’s why we set Focused Health Care’s minimum shift at one hour for Support Worker related shifts (Assistance with Self-Care and Access Community, Social, and Recreational Activities) and 2 hour minimum shifts for Nursing Supports.

That means if you have funding for three hours of support, you can choose to see your Support Worker for an hour on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.


5.     What hours are you available?

This is an important question if you know you’ll need help in the evening or on weekends. And what if there’s an unexpected problem or an emergency?

That’s why we give all our clients access to a Registered Nurse through a 24/7 hotline. There’s always capable help available.


6.     What level of experience do you have?

How long has the organisation been running? How many clients have they helped so far?

What qualifications do their care workers have? It might be a Certificate III or a relevant degree such as nursing or social work. Is the organisation committed to regular, ongoing staff training? If so, who runs it? (At Focused Health Care, our Registered Nurses train our team members).


7.     Do I see the same carers each time?

You’d hope so, wouldn’t you! Particularly, if they’re going to be helping you with personal care like showering or dressing.

You tend to be happier if you know and trust your carers. And that can’t happen if a different person shows up at your door each time.

That’s why Focused Health Care sends you the same 2-3 carers. That consistency helps you trust them. It also helps them get to know you, meaning they’re more likely to spot any changes in your health or abilities.


8.     What if I don’t like my carers?

In many organisations, that doesn’t matter. As long as the person is doing their job properly, it doesn’t matter whether you enjoy their company or not.

We’ve never seen it that way. We want you to be comfortable with the people who are in your home.

At Focused Health Care, we believe strongly in client-carer matching. We do our best to give you a team of carers who are on your wavelength. And if you don’t like a particular carer, then we’re happy to find you someone else.


9.     What does it cost?

You should have this clearly stated in a written service agreement before you start. The cost of in-home care depends on the services you need, the provider you choose, your own situation and the funding in your Home Care Package.

So, ask your provider about their fees. Keep asking until you’re clear about what you’ll have to pay, the payment process and the dates of payment.


10.     If I choose to leave, do you charge exit fees?

Many organisations insist on an exit fee to cover their costs or to discourage clients from leaving.

This is another area where Focused Health Care operates differently.

If your needs change or if something isn’t working well for you, then please tell us so we can try to alter our approach to suit you better.

If you decide you’d like to switch to another provider, then we respect your choice. We simply ask for two weeks’ written notice.

We don’t charge exit fees – we want you to be happy with your care and we don’t charge you for exercising your right to choose.


Reviewing the Answers

Once you’ve asked your questions of several different providers, then sit down with a cuppa and compare the answers.

Don’t just look at what’s on paper. Trust your intuition too. Often you’ll get a feel for the organisation based on whether the person you talked to was prepared to spend time answering your questions or whether they seemed too rushed to talk.


Choosing Focused Health Care

If you’d like to choose Focused Health Care as your home care provider, then please give us a call on 1300 201 351.

We are a Registered NDIS provider, an Approved Aged Care provider, and a DVA Community Nursing provider. While the process of accessing our services varies a bit depending on where your funding comes from, our support remains the same.

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