The homecare sector
It’s a well-known fact that we are all living older and this is where the nursing and care industry comes in. There is a massive and growing need for high quality home care in the UK. Demographic changes mean that the number of older people is increasing dramatically; there are now more over-60s in the UK than there are under-18s and nearly a million people are living with dementia. Family members aren’t always close by or have other commitments that limit the support they can give.
For prospective franchisees, the home care sector should have strong appeal because demand is only going to increase. 517,000 adults currently receive state-funded homecare whilst 527,000 adults receive self-directed support via Social Services. These are substantial figures and are indicative of how important the domiciliary care market is in the delivery of care. It’s an industry currently worth £7.8 billion per year.
Not only are there potential financial rewards but as importantly, it’s an opportunity to make a positive difference to people’s lives. You don’t have to be Florence Nightingale to start a home care franchise of your own. Actually, most franchisees don’t have a medical background at all.
What is a homecare agency?
Homecare agencies provide care to people in their own homes. This care can be both domestic and/or personal. Domestic care includes things like shopping, laundry and cleaning. Personal care includes assistance with personal hygiene, continence and dressing.
Typically a homecare agency will provide the following services:
- Personal care
- Shopping and bill paying services
- Food preparation and meals
- Light domestic and cleaning services
- Dementia care
- Assistance and mobility in the community
- Live-in 24 hour care
Some home care agencies are also registered to provide nursing care to people in their own homes. Any nursing care must be carried out by a registered nurse.
A homecare agency will often be paid to provide care to service users by local authorities. However, there is a gradual move to personal budgets where service users have control over who provides the care. This move is providing increased opportuntities, particularly for the smaller care agencies where previously the larger ones have tended to dominate local authority contracts.
Choosing to start a homecare agency isn’t a decision to be take lightly. There are regulatory and legislative requirements to fulfill. There is money to be found as starting an agency is not cheap. There are employment hurdles to overcome and then ongoing marketing and training needs.
However, the market is growing and is set to grow for many, many years to come. It is an inevitable fact that more people will require care in the future. Whether this care is funded by the state or privately it will mean more carers, working in more care agencies, to provide it. There is, therefore, a realistic business to consider here.
If you are in any doubt take a look at the franchise options that are now available in the care sector. Ten years ago there were none – now there are dozens and these are set to be joined by others in the next couple of years. New franchise opportunities are always a good indicator of where the best bet for future growth lies – and the care sector appears to be the business of the moment in the franchise sector.
It’s more important that franchisees have good management and people skills – and the confidence to be the public face of the organisation within their local community. Franchisees recruit a care manager and a team who handle the care delivery through passionate and engaged caregivers .You see you don’t have to look after the patients yourself, you can hire others to do the hands-on part of the business for you. But still this is very much a people business and so it helps if you’re somebody who likes to make a difference.
So what kind of research should you do before approaching a franchisor?
“We are happy for people to contact us before they have done any research; the most important thing for us is that they know they want to run a business that makes a difference to people’s lives and are committed to valuing their staff and delivering top quality services,” says Kate Dilworth of Right at Home.
“The first things we will check are whether we can offer a viable territory option and whether the investment level is potentially achievable. We then have a detailed chat about how the business works; most people are new to franchising and new to the quality home care sector so it’s important they get a clear picture of what’s involved before they invest time and money in coming to meet us and look at things in more detail. It is great if people have begun to research the home care market in their area, but we do give guidance on competitive analysis at our first face-to-face meeting,” she adds.
It is essential for any home care franchisee to have strong people skills, after all, the foundation of the health and care sector is the people that work within it, from Home Carers to Nurses, from GPs to Cleaners. Your team of staff are the most important asset in your business.
“As a Clarriots Care franchisee you must be able to relate well to people, adapt to varying situations and, of course, be an excellent communicator. It is also important that you recognise that every customer is different, with varying needs and the ability to personalise your service to them is paramount. We believe that if you are the type of person who can put yourself in the customer’s shoes and you show empathy, then you can be the right fit for Clarriots Care and the care sector,” says James W Carratt, Managing Director, Clarriots Care.
The registration process
The Care Quality Commission (or CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care in England. The ensure that all health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care by monitoring, inspecting and regulating services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety. They then publish what they find, including performance ratings to help people choose care.
A franchisee does not need accreditation from social services to operate a home care franchise but must register with the CQC. The franchisor will usually assist its franchisees in this registration process as well as providing ongoing support to them.
“If you are delivering a regulated service (which is regulated by the Care Quality Commission) then you must be registered with CQC. As a franchisor, we provide full support in becoming registered with CQC, supporting our franchisee’s through the red tape and training them to be able to complete and maintain their own registration,” says James W Carratt of Clarriotts Care.
The United Kingdom Home Care Association is a professional membership organisation for organisations which provide home care and nursing care to people in their own homes. All members agree to comply with UKHCA’s Code of Practice as a condition of membership.
The Code of Practice sets out requirements for:
- Standards of care
- The rights of service users
- Organisational management.
Again your franchisor will be able to advise further on this and unlike the CQC it isn’t obligatory to join.
The day to day stuff
The day-to-day work of a regular carer could include anything from running errands to the local shop to making breakfast or dressing a terminally ill client. Contracts can be as short as a few days respite care for the primary carer to looking after somebody for several months or even years. This means providing the highest standard of care, tailored to individual needs. Good care is about much more than meeting basic needs so, for example, you should match your caregivers and clients on the basis of shared hobbies and interests.
You would generally recruit carers by posting job advertisements in the local media or websites and you will need to recruit continually. You will also need somebody to run your office. This could be done by yourself but you will also need to focus on marketing your business. This isn’t just marketing in the usual sense of selling but rather what’s going on with social services and what all the current health issues in your region are. It’s also about letting people know what you do and finding out what they want out of your carers.
All care professionals must satisfy the CQC’s requirement that “care providers show that that they are complying with the relevant regulations covering staff competence and training”. This means that all care staff must have completed the Common Inductions Standards (CIS), which are applicable to the adult social care sector. These standards must also be completed within 12 weeks of commencing employment.
The logistics of providing care in multiple locations requires the recruitment of suitably qualified, trustworthy staff. When sourcing suitable candidates, you need to be certain about the qualifications and experience that are required. We have a qualifications page which gives you essential guidance on this. You also need to think about background checks via the DBS where appropriate.
Start your search by logging onto our home care page right now.