Women in wheelchair with home care nurse

Guide to starting a domiciliary care agency

Launching a domiciliary care agency or home care agency can be daunting; we provide a quick overview and guide to the process.

When starting any new business there are many things to consider and pitfalls to avoid. Launching a domiciliary care agency can arguably be an even more daunting task, with the added burden of registering with the Care Quality Commission.

There are however, many reasons to open a Domiciliary Care agency, the care sector has grown rapidly over the last ten years, partly due to services that were previously run in-house by local authorities now being contracted out. With an ageing population in the UK there is without doubt still considerable potential growth ahead.

Key elements to consider when starting a Domiciliary Care agency

Registration and set up

All Domiciliary Care agencies need to register with the Care Quality Commission (CQC). This is a legal requirement and both the organisation and the Registered Manager must be listed with the CQC.

You can register on CQC’s website here.

Before registering it is worth considering whether you have the right qualifications and experience to provide home care as the CQC will ascertain this through your registration.

Key elements to consider before registering:

  • Apply for DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check. You can apply for your DBS check here
  • References: Including your last employer and your GP
  • Registered Manager application
  • Statement of Purpose: A detailed outline of the services provided, contact details and aims and objectives

It is also important to determine the type of business you wish to set up. Most businesses begin as a sole trader, but you are personally responsible for the liabilities of the company. If there are two or more people starting the business then a partnership is the simplest way to run the enterprise. In this case the responsibility for the debt of the company is shared across the partners. You can also set up as a limited company; then the finances of the company are separate from your own. Setting up however is more complex and may require help from professionals, for example an accountant.

Domiciliary Care Insurance

There are many factors to consider when starting a domiciliary care or home care agency including obtaining financial protection with the right insurance coverage.

Domiciliary care providers face different risks than many other small businesses, often home care employees are out of the employer’s supervision, are entering patient’s homes and provide varying services.

It is essential to get cover that addresses the specialist needs of the sector.  CARE has been providing domiciliary care insurance solutions for over 20 years. With policies designed specifically for domiciliary care and home care providers CARE can ensure that you get the right level of cover for your business.

Get a domiciliary care providers quote here.

Recruitment, induction and training

Perhaps the single most important position of a care business is that of the Registered Manager. Certain roles require specific qualifications be in place before care is provided, the role of the Registered Manager is one that the CQC will scrutinise to ensure they have the relevant skills and experience.

If the Registered Manager does not have the relevant qualification, which is currently a QCF Level 5 Diploma in Leadership for Health and Social Care, then they must register onto the programme within 3 months of appointment, and must expect to complete it within 18 months to 2 years.

Another key position is that of the Responsible Individual, this post holder must demonstrate they have the ability to oversee the running of the care business. Often in a start-up the Responsible Individual and the Registered Manager is the same person in which case the Registered Manager criteria above still apply.

Running a domiciliary care agency is very challenging and the recruitment of suitably qualified and trustworthy staff is important. When recruiting you need to be certain about the qualifications and experience of candidates. You also need to consider background checks via the DBS where appropriate, where to advertise vacancies and how you will conduct interviews.

Funding, tendering, cash flow

One of the biggest challenges facing new domiciliary care and home care providers is establishing adequate cash flow. Winning tenders is likely to be the biggest element in securing income; however, it often takes time to establish a reputation that will win tenders. Finding independent paying clients is therefore crucial initially and effective marketing can help enormously with this.

Creating a practical cash flow policy and obtaining sufficient start-up capital are key in the early stages so the business can operate effectively.

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