Using your direct payment to pay a home care provider

You may decide to use a direct payment to pay a home care provider (also known as an agency) to provide your care.

This means that you talk to the provider directly and can say how, when and where you want your care delivered.

Getting the information that you need

Before you decide to buy a service from a home care provider with your direct payment, it may be useful to talk to Lancashire Independent Living Services (LILS) on 01772 558863. They will be able to advise what to consider before you enter into a contract or agreement with the provider. We recommend that you talk to several providers to compare costs and the terms and conditions of services before you decide which one is best for you.

Questions to ask each provider:

  • How much it will cost you to use their services and are there any additional costs such as mileage or working on bank holidays
  • Do they have public liability insurance to cover themselves against the cost of a claim for any damage or injury that may happen to people working in your home?
  • Are they registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC)? The CQC regulates this type of service and requires that certain minimum standards are met
  • How do they arrange cover when your regular care worker is on holiday or on sick leave and how they will tell you about this
  • What are the terms and conditions of the contract that you will have to sign?
  • Do they employ the staff and meet all their tax and national insurance payments?
  • Do all their staff have Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks to make sure there is no known reason why staff should not work with vulnerable people?
  • What qualifications and experience do their staff have and what training and support do they provide to their staff?
  • Will the home care provider carry out a risk assessment for you and the staff who will work with you?
  • How do they manage their staff and how often will someone visit you to check you are happy with their services?
  • How can you tell them if you are unhappy with their service and how would they deal with your complaint?

These are a few suggestions of the type of questions to ask. Please think about the information you want and what additional questions you may need to ask to help you to choose the right provider for you.

The contract or agreement

Once you have decided to use a home care provider, always check that you have discussed all of your arrangements with the provider and have an agreement in writing.

Make sure that the provider has given you a breakdown of all their costs in writing. You do not want to have any unexpected costs, such as additional charges for mileage, bank holidays and so on that you have not previously agreed to pay.

Also make sure that you know what the notice period is if you decide to change provider in the future, or reduce visits due to a holiday or hospital admission.

The provider cannot increase their charges without first informing you and seeking your agreement to the increase. You would want to make sure that you could still meet these costs from your budget before agreeing.

Invoices from the home care provider

The provider will invoice you for the cost of the services. You should check that the details are correct before paying the invoice from your direct payments budget.

Make sure that the invoices clearly state what service has been delivered and break it down into the dates and hours of care provided each day. They should be provided on at least a monthly basis, if not more frequently and follow government guidelines.

Please keep copies of invoices and correspondence as they will be required at a finance or social care review.

Employing home care provider staff directly

Sometimes, people who have been supported by provider staff for some time decide that they want to directly employ them rather than going through the agency.

We strongly recommend that you talk to the provider and/or seek independent advice from Lancashire Independent Living Services (LILS) on 01772 558863 service before you do this.

Some provider agreements allow you to employ their staff directly but may charge you a fee as part of their conditions for providing the service for you.

You also need to be aware this means you will become an employer and will have legal obligations towards your employee.

Changing or cancelling the care provider

Most care providers will charge for a notice period if you wish to suspend or stop getting services from them. If you decide to change your home care provider, you will need to make sure that you have enough money in your budget to pay for this notice period.

Your home care provider can no longer support you

If the provider tells you they will not be able to continue to support you, you can seek advice from the Lancashire Independent Living Services (LILS) on 01772 558863.                                                          

Complaints

If you have a complaint about the services provided by the provider, you should contact the manager of the provider to discuss your concerns. If you are not satisfied with the response and the provider is registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC), you can contact CQC at:

CQC
Citygate
Gallowgate
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 4PA

Tel: 03000 616161
Fax: 03000 616172
Email: enquiries@cqc.org.uk

Getting our support