Introductory Agencies put care-seekers in contact with self employed Nurses or Carers, from which the individual may select a Nurse/Carer who he/she will then employ or use.
Unlike traditional care providers, Introductory Agencies do NOT play an ongoing role in care planning or the practical delivery of care.
We have interviewed a selection of Introductory Agencies including Elder & seakr carer to get their perspective on some of the most frequently asked questions about this type of service.
6 Frequently Asked Questions on Introduction Agencies
1. What can Introductory Agencies do & not do?
"As an introductory agency, we’re not a provider of care. We help match families with care professionals, who then move into the home. They provide care for an average of four weeks at a time. Then, when they want to take a break, we’ll work with the family to arrange for a substitute carer to step in.
Unlike a fully-managed provider, we don’t have an ongoing role in the care on a day-to-day basis. It’s much more of a family affair, by which loved ones work with the carer to make sure everything is working well.
Of course, that doesn’t mean we’re not at the other end of the line if something changes. We’re here to support our customers whenever they need us.
And, for the vast majority of families, even though the service we provide is different, the end result is the same. Their loved one gets dedicated support from a carer in their own home."
- Help you or your loved one find your most suitable carer, and help source a replacement or substitute professional, as required, on an on-going basis.
- Payroll services for you and your home carer
- Support services for you and your private live-in carers can help support your own care management, such as MyElder and your dedicated Account Manager.
- Regular checkins to make sure you and your family are happy with the care, and the live-in carer, provided
2. Without being regulated, how do they ensure that the care they facilitate is safe?
"Our status as an introductory agency does mean that we sit outside of the remit of the care regulator, the Care Quality Commission. However, we take our onboarding processes seriously.
We ensure all carers joining our platform have a full background check, undergo a situational judgement test and meet them all face-to-face to go through our standards, as well as how our processes work (although this is currently being done via Zoom).
We also offer them access to training to ensure they can progress and excel in their profession."
"In contrast to Care Agencies that may be regulated by the CQC, Introductory Agency's often provide independent carers who are themselves responsible for the care they deliver. Therefore, the quality of Introductory Agency care is dependant upon their quality standards and compliance against these standards, which you can always ask for a copy of.
One should also choose an Introductory Agency that ensures all carers undergo a formal application and interview (preferably by video) process, reference checks, a DBS check at the Enhanced level (if the carer cannot provide one that is less than 12 months old), full mandatory care training (unless the carer can prove with certificates that they have undertaken appropriate training within the previous 12 months) and has a valid liability insurance certificate.
At seakr carer, we rejected 82% of all carer applications made to us during 2019. The Introductory Agency holds all of these records and documents securely on their carers behalf and ensures that they remain current and valid. You will be offered a simple agreement, which sets out the basis of the care arrangements you have agreed, including details of your carer, the nature of the service to be provided, the fee and any notice period."
3. What background checks are carried out on Carers and Nurses they provide?
"As well as our on-boarding process, we ensure the carers coming onto our platform have a full Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check prior to them joining. If they’re in Scotland, this is a PVG check."
"Introductory Agency's typically carry out the same background checks as Care Agencies. A thorough interview, DBS check at the Enhanced level together with recent and professional reference checks are a must."
4. How is a care plan created if the Introductory Agency is not directing the care?
"The care plan often comes directly from a local authority, after someone has completed their care needs assessment. But, in our experience, these don’t always capture all of those important human details that make a great match between carer and those receiving care.
So we have an initial chat with the family. Usually, this is really about discovering whether live-in care is the most suitable option for them. Then, we ask them to complete our online care appraisal. This is an intuitive online form that families can collaborate on between themselves to make sure everything important is captured.
Once we have this, we’ll have a much more detailed chat. This will be with a senior care planning expert. During this call, they’ll discuss requirements at length to ensure we have the best possible picture of their needs and circumstances. We’ll then use this information to match them with a suitable carer.
Obviously, care needs change over time. That’s why we encourage families to keep their care appraisal updated. If needs change, the level of support may too. As we have no ongoing role in the care, it’s ultimately up for families and carers to make sure this happens."
"Choose an Introductory Agency that has provided risk assessment and care planning training and resources to their carers. Introductory Agency carers will often provide this service at no cost to their clients as it is also in their interests to ensure that a quality documentation process is in place to ensure the safety for both clients and carers."
5. If I decide that the Carer or Nurse recommended by the Introductory Agency isn't right for me, can I change to a different one?
"Inconsistency in care delivery (different faces coming through the door) can be frustrating for clients, especially for those suffering from mental health issues or dementia. Introductory Agency's facilitate a direct match between clients and carers, that lead to a trusted relationship. Some Introductory Agency's will ask you about your own personality and also for your thoughts on your ideal carer personality and background. They may also facilitate a call or a meeting beforehand, to help you and your carer decide on the match.
Inevitably, the best matches work both ways and this makes for a far higher probability of a good match from the outset. In the event that your carer is not right for you, simply let your carer know or contact the Independent Agency and they will arrange for you to meet other carers."
6. Does a person pay the Carer or the Introductory Agency?
"Families pay the introductory agency directly, who then pays the carers. The main advantage of doing this is that it makes things really simple when it’s time for a carer to take a break. We’ll arrange that directly with the carer to make sure there’s always someone suitable there to care for them.
We also employ a support team families can turn to, we provide apps that help them manage care, as well as a wealth of helpful information."
"It varies. Some Introductory Agency’s will invoice you on behalf of the carer, whilst others may charge an introduction fee. Either way, care arranged via an Introductory Agency can be very cost-effective in comparison to other agencies. Introductory Agency's that remain behind the scenes, supporting you and your carer offer greater value and confidence as they are always there to help should there be any questions or concerns at all, particularly if you or your loved ones live a good distance apart.
In working with independent self-employed carers, Introductory Agency' offer an advantage over directly employing your own carer, as you need not worry about offering them an employment contract, nor pay for their holidays, sickness or National Insurance and pension contributions."