In this post, you'll learn how to set up a care agency.
Perhaps you’ve been a homecare professional for quite a few years, working for someone else, and now’s the time to go it alone? Or maybe you’re not involved in the care industry at all – maybe you’re a medical professional or in another business altogether and you want to go down the home care provider route? Of course, initially it might feel like a daunting task - but with hard work, determination and the right amount of research you’ll be up and running in no time at all.
Let Birdie help you with what you need to know about setting up your very own care agency from registering your business, to software, recruiting staff and more!
What is a care agency?
A homecare agency or domiciliary care agency is a company that deals with providing care to people who need it – such as vulnerable adults, domiciliary care, elderly care and other specialist care in a home setting. As well as specialist care, it can also provide companionship - such as a regular visitor for a lonely elderly person, for example. It doesn’t always need to be medically related! As care is undertaken at home, homecare agencies don’t cover care in a hospital, clinic, hospice or other on-site business.
Most home care providers are locally based businesses with care professionals who live near the main office, providing a more personal service to care recipients and their families. It’s fair to say that most providers have anything from 5 to 50 care professionals working for them, usually from one or two central offices. It’s best to set up a domiciliary care business that starts off small with two or three care professionals working for your homecare agency, before scaling up if that’s your aim. This helps you to get to grips with what’s needed to be successful, taking small steps along the way to growing your business.
An efficient Homecare agency manager
Many homecare agency owners also act as the manager, at least to begin with. Managing your business properly is key to its success and a manager’s responsibility is to ensure the day-to-day is as smooth as possible.
It’s also the manager’s job to make sure that all care recipients have the right level of care in place, and just as important is to stay on top of regulations.
One of the biggest tasks is having the right processes in place (and software can make a big difference here!), especially in creating care plans, reviewing care plans and staying CQC compliant.
What qualifications do you need to set up a care agency?
If you’re the business owner and you won’t be managing your agency on a day-to-day basis, then you don’t need any qualifications (except for a DBS check). However, it’s not simply a case of assigning someone to the task of being an agency manager, there are certain criteria that must be followed and when CQC assess your care agency, they will be looking to see if your manager has the right skills and experience. In England, it’s recommended that a manager of a care agency has the following:
- QCF Level 5 Diploma in Leadership for Health and Social Care (Management of Adult Services)
- A Registered Manager’s Award (RMA for short)
- NVQ Level 4 in Leadership and Management for Care Services
How to set up a Domiciliary Care agency
One of the first areas you’d need to consider is using a quality software package that’s suitable for homecare agency start-ups, small businesses and even mid-sized care agencies. In fact, the right software package keeps you running efficiently. Birdie can help you with that – our end-to-end software packages are specifically tailored to homecare agencies giving you everything you need to help you organise schedules, plans, and keep your documentation in one, central location that’s accessible to those with necessary permission.
When you employ staff, all new members must complete a specific certificate known as the Care Certificate (in England). The care certificate makes up the 15 standards that the CQC rates homecare providers on and it also defines what is required of job roles in the health and social care sectors. It's also useful to use a recruitment agency to help hire care professionals - they can take alot of the time and energy out of the process, and usually help to find the very best candidates for your business.
How to register your Homecare business with the CQC
You must register a new care business before you start providing care and do it early because it does take time. If you live in England, you’ll need to deal with the CQC, Care Quality Commission. You will be asked to provide your regulator with a “Statement of Purpose” and this details what you’re planning to provide as well as your aims and your values. You can look at this template for guidance. Additionally, you will need to provide that you’re fit and healthy so obtain a reference from your GP. Anyone involved in working for your agency (including yourself) will need to be DBS checked.
When you set up your own care agency, you’ll need to put your own policies and processes into place. This covers your best practices how you work, how your staff should work and what you and your staff do on a daily basis. These policies need to be compliant with the government’s regulations. Once these documents are created, they must be regularly reviewed and updated, according to CQC inspection and any changes to regulations.
Other important things to consider when setting up a care agency
Once all of the above is complete, you’ll need to sort out insurance and take into account that as you are running a care agency, you will need extra insurance because you are working with vulnerable people. Research insurance brokers that deal with home care agencies and do speak to two or three providers before choosing the right one for your business.
Marketing your Homecare business
Once you are ready to go, you need care recipients! A good way to market your agency is to go through your local authorities especially to get started although you will have to tender for work. It’s worthwhile looking at other tenders to understand what’s required. You will need to provide evidence of financial stability, registration with CQC, experience, staff, certificate of incorporation, health and safety information, and other important documents.
While private services do pay more, when you’re starting out, you might find you get better response through your local councils. You can also advertise in hospitals, GP practices, medical centres, local newspapers and other places. Don’t forget you can build up recognition through social media and by creating your own website and populating it with information that those seeking care will find invaluable! Remember, offering incentives and discounts for fixed contracts can help you attract business.
Getting started and organising yourself to set up a homecare business is often the hardest part but once you’re up and running and have regular care recipients, by providing exemplary care you will build up a good reputation. That, along with a good or outstanding CQC rating will play a vital role in ensuring that your care agency is one of the best local providers.
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