We live in a fortunate age where we are spoiled for options when it comes to selecting a provider for home care services. In particular is the emergence of platforms that allow you to connect directly with self-employed carers (Home Carers Direct being one such platform). With the freedom of choice, it's important to be discerning, as not all platforms carry the same security features, nor do they offer the same user experience. To help you make the most informed decision, we've put together a great checklist of things to consider when using online marketplaces for home care services.
Carer Onboarding Procedures
✔ Police Checks
While police checks are standard in the industry, unfortunately there is no government service available at this time to notify relevant parties if new offences have been added to a police record after its date of issue. For this reason, police checks should be conducted periodically, and not just at the carer onboarding stage. Home Carers Direct requires carers to supply an up to date national police record every 2 years to maintain a publicly visible carer profile, and to continue providing care services.
✔ Character Reference Checks
Beyond formal police checks, it's also important to speak with people who know the prospective carer. Conducted by a person with a keen eye for detail, these interviews should go beyond the standard questions rather than a standard 'tick the box' exercise. Home Carers Direct asks open-ended questions to ensure the referee can speak freely about the prospective carer.
✔ Interviews with the Carer
Home Carers Direct now conducts a short telephone interview to ensure that the carer can communicate effectively. While there are many bilingual carers who use the Home Carers Direct platform, in particular, it is important that all carers can speak English well. We also encourage care seekers who are using the platform to have a conversation with their chosen carer prior to their first booking to make sure that your preferred carer fits your needs. If you have any concerns or feedback, this can be passed onto the platform administrators so that they can act swiftly.
✔ Qualification Verification
The platform's algorithms should automatically be able to match services a carer can offer with the correct qualifications. This minimises the chance of care services being offered by unsuitably qualified workers. While this doesn't remove the need for care seekers to double check that their carer is suitably qualified, Home Carers Direct has done the initial vetting so that consumers aren't left having to apply their own interpretation of what "suitably qualified" means. In addition, the platform should detect and block any booking where the care recipient is a child and the carer does not hold a valid working with children check.
There are varying degrees of insurance coverage available on the market, but how can a care seeker know what level is suitable for the care they are going to receive? Home Carers Direct has arranged market-leading insurance on behalf of carers using the platform. This insurance covers carers for all bookings made and paid for using our platform, and provides peace of mind for both carers and care seekers alike.
✔ Payment Systems
Late (and sometimes absent) payments can cause significant hardship to self-employed carers using platforms. Home Carers Direct has been progressive in its thinking by collecting payment upfront for bookings, but holding the funds in escrow through an independent party, thereby providing balances the interests of the care seeker and the care worker. The payment is released to the platform and the carer automatically three days after the care has been delivered. This allows either the carer or the care seeker to amend the booking if necessary, and adjust the payments directly through the platform without delay.
✔ Sharing of Personal Information
Personal information should not be readily and publicly available for all to see. Another alternative is a direct messaging system from within the platform. Home Carers Direct have created a system that allows care seekers to directly message carers so they can get to know each other prior to the first care appointment, and allows personal contact information to be shared at the discretion of both parties.
✔ Online User Experience
The allure of these business models is that care seekers (often the children of care recipients) are looking for a predominantly online option to arrange safe and affordable care for their loved ones/clients. This enables these care seekers to manage their care needs after hours and at their convenience. A platform that allows all interactions to occur online (through mobile and PC) is therefore the perfect option for these time poor care seekers. However, a platform that also allows human interaction with responsive administration teams willing to go the extra mile to ensure a friendly and helpful interaction is essential, especially at the beginning when everything is being set up.
Home care platforms do particularly well for those care seekers who are clear on their care needs and who want the flexibility to choose a team of carers who share their interests, language, and more. It offers care seekers the opportunity to trial out different carers until they find one that is the right fit, and to do this at a fraction of the price. It is important for care seekers and carers to demand more from their platform providers and work with these providers to ensure a safe and easy user experience.