Do you want support from a person to help you with your daily tasks?
These top tips have been produced to help you buy social care support for yourself, a friend or relative. It gives you some ideas of what to look out for when choosing the support you need, choosing a care provider or paying for a service online.
If you are buying your support from a provider agency - a charity, a not for profit organisation or a private company - they will usually be your support worker's employer
Make sure that the organisation will be responsible for paying your support worker's wages, tax and National Insurance contributions and all other payments including sick pay and maternity pay
Agree with them at the beginning how you will be involved in recruitment and support decisions
You will be classed as your support worker's employer if you are employing somebody directly - if there is no other agency involved in your support
If this is the case you need to ensure you are able to pay their wages on a regular basis - and this must be at least the National Minimum wage at the current level. You must also pay their tax and National Insurance. You could buy in support from a payroll service to help you do this
You will need to make sure they have a contract of employment
You also need to check your responsibilities to make additional payments - for example, sick pay or maternity pay
If you are employing a support worker or Personal Assistant directly, check what will happen if they are off sick. Will someone else be able to support you? Will you be able to choose who that will be?
You are legally responsible for your support worker or Personal Assistant as their employer and so you need to check that you have the right insurance in place. Make sure you are clear about all your legal responsibilities and that you can meet them before employing anyone
Skills for Care, together with Association for Real Change (ARC), has developed a toolkit to support people to employ their own personal assistants and to help you get started www.skillsforcare.org.uk/employingpas
Your support provider should spend time getting to know you, to find out about your needs and wishes. They should develop a person centred plan with you and you should receive a contract that sets out your support. Ask:
how will they approach getting to know you?
how will they involve you, if you are a family member?
if a decision making agreement will be developed which clarifies who needs to be involved in decisions or making changes to the support you receive?
what happens about holiday arrangements both for the staff member and for you or your relative? You might want to choose another support worker for when your usual support worker is on holiday. Or you might want to wait until they get back and perhaps get support from a friend or family member in the meantime. Make sure you discuss this when you are drawing up the contract.
Your support provider should carry out a review of your support - sometimes called a 'person-centred review' - every year, and this should be led by you. They should be flexible and able to provide support that meets your needs. Ask:
how will your support will be reviewed?
how will people who are important to you be involved?
You should be able to easily contact your provider to make changes to your support at any time - not just at your annual review.
Your support provider should confirm a price that will not change after you and they have signed the contract, unless by mutual agreement. Please note that this may be a different amount to that stated on Connect to Support.
how is the price put together and what this includes?
If an hourly rate is quoted for support, is this for 1:1 support or shared support?
Are there any extra charges that you need to know about?
Does the rate cover everything that you will need?
What will happen if you need more support during the contract - how will this be charged?
Who pays for the support worker if you go into hospital?
Do they have a notice period for if you would like to cancel a call as a one off without being charged?
Do you want the provider to invoice you or will you pay another way?
If you set up an Individual Service Fund with a provider - Check
How the agency will look after the money you pay them.
Will the money you pay be used only for your support?
Will they send you a regular statement, telling you how your money has been spent?
You can pay safely through Connect to Support by credit card, debit card or paypal. Check how the provider will accept payment as some may also accept cash or cheque.
Do not give out your payment details unless you are sure the person is who they say they are and do not send cash through the post.
Always ask for a receipt. If you pay through Connect to Support you will receive this automatically with your full purchase history.
Your support provider might want to include an annual price increase in your contract - make sure you are aware of this
There may be circumstances when prices need to be reviewed - make sure that there is a clear process for how you will be told about this
Bear in mind that specialist provider agencies may cost more but may have more skills to support you and may be a better choice - make sure you consider this when making a decision.
This will depend on whether you employ them through an agency or directly.
Buying support from a provider agency
Do all support workers have up to date criminal record checks? If you are buying support from a provider agency you shouldn't be charged for this.
Does staff training comply with, or exceed, the
How will staff be trained to provide the support you need if they do not have the required skills already?
Does each staff member have regular supervision and a development plan that sets out their ersonal training requirements?
How does the provider plan to involve you in the recruitment process?
Will your views be listened to and actioned?
Will you be able to be involved in drawing up the job description of the person who supports you?
Will you be able to be on the interview panel, if you want to be?
Who pays for the staff training?
What will happen when your support worker is away being trained - who will support you?
Employing a person directly
Your support worker doesn't have to have a criminal records check but if you want them to have one ou will need to pay for this yourself.
There is no legal requirement for your support worker to have specific training, but if you think they need training so that they can support you, you will need to arrange and pay for this and for any supervision or support that they need.
If you are employing a support working directly and wish to terminate their contract you need to make sure that you follow Employment Law. Ask for advice if you are unsure about this.
If you are working with a provider agency, they should provide a service which meets certain standards. This will increase your confidence that you will receive the highest standard of support possible. Accreditation and kitemarks are shown on Connect to Support to show which providers are registered. See section XXX for what these mean.
Check your support worker(s) identification when they attend for the first time and if anyone different attends. If you are unsure ring your care provider.
Check your provider is registered with the appropriate regulator and what other quality tests they carry out (these should include health and safety and may include fire safety).
Find out if they have a whistle-blowing policy and what safeguards are in place if there is an emergency.
Check what reporting is done; this should include reporting on health and safety incidents and complaints.
Ask if they carry out any regular surveys or questionnaires on the support they provide - will you be able to take part in this?
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Page Reference: Top tips getting support from a person
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