How to start a domiciliary care agency

Starting up a home care agencyThe healthcare industry is a burgeoning profession ‒ as the population ages, demand for homecare is escalating on a global scale. Homecare is often perceived as a more comfortable and cost-effective alternative to care homes, enabling individuals to remain in their own homes for as long as possible.

Establishing a domiciliary care business is not devoid of challenges, of course: recruitment has always been a hurdle for this sector.

The increasing cost of living and the departure of thousands of potential EU workers following Brexit are resulting in a significant shortage of skilled and specialist caregivers needed in social and care work.

Nevertheless, it is immensely rewarding. So, if you’re contemplating starting a domiciliary care business, here’s a guide to some of the key steps to consider.

What is a domiciliary care agency?

A domiciliary care agency, also known as a home care agency, is an organisation that provides a range of care and support services to individuals in their own homes.

These services are tailored to meet the specific needs of clients who may require assistance with daily tasks due to illness, disability, or old age. Domiciliary care agencies typically employ trained caregivers who visit clients’ homes to provide assistance with activities such as personal care, medication management, meal preparation, household chores, and companionship.

The goal of a domiciliary care agency is to help individuals maintain their independence and quality of life while living in their own familiar environment. These agencies play a crucial role in supporting individuals who wish to remain in their homes rather than move into residential care settings.

Starting a domiciliary care business

When contemplating the establishment of a domiciliary care enterprise, meticulous planning of every aspect of your business right from the outset is imperative. The subsequent steps offer a valuable framework to guide you through the process:

Research and market analysis

Prior to elaborating on your business strategy, delve into your market.

  • Examine your competitors’ strategies, their geographical reach, pricing structures, and more.
  • Conduct thorough research on the region you intend to cater to, assessing population density to ensure it sustains your venture.
  • Consider socio-economic factors and age demographics.
  • Acquaint yourself with pertinent care legislation and regulations, including the Domiciliary Care Agencies Regulations 2002 and the standards mandated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Choosing the services you will offer

Your exploration will inform the spectrum of services your enterprise will offer. These could encompass medical, non-medical home care, or a blend of both:

  • Nursing and healthcare—such as wound care and medication administration.
  • Personal care—assisting with bathing, dressing, toileting, and mobility.
  • Domestic assistance—undertaking household chores like cleaning, cooking, dishwashing, laundry, and gardening.
  • Providing companionship.
  • Additional errands like grocery shopping and prescription pickups may also be accommodated.

How to find your clients

Finding clients for your domiciliary care agency involves implementing targeted strategies to reach potential individuals in need of your services. Start by establishing a strong online presence through a professional website and social media platforms, where you can showcase your offerings and engage with your target audience.

Networking with healthcare professionals, local community groups, and organisations can also be fruitful in generating referrals. Additionally, consider attending relevant events or hosting informational sessions to raise awareness about your agency within your local community. Offering special promotions or discounts for new clients can help attract initial interest.

Leveraging word-of-mouth recommendations from satisfied clients and their families can significantly contribute to expanding your client base over time. By employing a multi-faceted approach and consistently delivering high-quality care, you can effectively connect with and serve those in need of your domiciliary care services.

Appointing a registered manager

Each domiciliary care agency is obligated to appoint a registered manager. This individual assumes responsibility for the agency’s day-to-day operations and ensures adherence to regulatory standards. The registered manager may either be the business owner, particularly if they commit to full-time management, or a senior staff member specially recruited to oversee agency affairs from the outset.

In England, specific qualifications are mandated for registered managers:

  • QCF Level 5 Diploma in Leadership for Health and Social Care (Management of Adult Services)
  • Registered Manager’s Award (RMA)
  • NVQ Level 4 in Leadership and Management for Care Services

These qualifications equip managers with the necessary expertise to proficiently lead the agency and uphold regulatory compliance.

Start-up costs to consider

Assessing your initial expenses and projected expenditures for the inaugural year of operation is crucial for laying a solid foundation for your business.

Take into account the following:

  • Equipment expenditures
  • Recruitment outlays
  • Marketing allocations
  • Training necessities
  • Business rates
  • Annual CQC fees (no initial registration charge)
  • Specialised domiciliary care insurance encompassing public and employers’ liability, as well as professional indemnity coverage.

Creating a business plan

Crafting a comprehensive business plan is essential to charting your course, encompassing competitor scrutiny, financial projections, and operational expenses. This blueprint can serve as a tool for seeking business funding. While flexibility is key, your plan should offer pragmatic forecasts of your aspirations.

How to decide on your pricing

Determining your pricing structure hinges on various considerations:

  • The nature of care, whether medical or non-medical, and the extent of assistance needed
  • Required equipment
  • Staffing requirements per client
  • Daily operational expenses
  • Client’s funding source: fully self-funded or supported by local authority, NHS, or charity
  • Geographic location, proximity to competitors, and their pricing strategies
  • Target profit margins.

Creating a marketing strategy

Tailoring your marketing strategy is contingent upon your target audience and the positioning of your brand. What sets you apart from competitors is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP), whether it’s a distinct service, the expertise of your team, your geographic reach, or your pricing model.

Once your USP and messaging are defined, strategize how to market your agency effectively:

  • Choose a memorable and reflective name for your agency if you haven’t already.
  • Establish an online presence through a user-friendly website, either by utilising a website builder or seeking assistance from a local marketing agency.
  • Leverage social media platforms by creating accounts and consistently sharing engaging content to bolster your online visibility.
  • Distribute printed materials like leaflets and flyers in strategic locations such as local businesses and community hubs.
  • Harness the power of word-of-mouth marketing by spreading awareness among friends, family, community groups, and other businesses.

Outlining your policies and procedures

Your policies and procedures serve as essential internal directives dictating the provision of services by you and your staff. Numerous online templates and toolkits are accessible to aid in crafting domiciliary care policies and procedures documentation aligned with CQC regulations, legislative requirements, and best practices. These resources ensure that your operational framework adheres to the prescribed standards and guidelines.

Exploring financing options

Prior to any financial commitments or acquisitions, establishing a dedicated business bank account for your domiciliary care agency is imperative. Determine the source of your initial funding—whether you’ll utilise personal funds or opt for a start-up, invoice financing or business loan. Assessing the most suitable financing option ensures prudent financial management and sets the stage for your agency’s fiscal stability.

Applying for a countersigned DBS check

Ensuring compliance with legal regulations, Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks are mandatory for domiciliary care agencies, with employers required to stay vigilant in their implementation.

For those seeking registration as a partner, manager, or individual provider, an enhanced DBS check, no older than 12 months at the time of CQC registration application, is obligatory.

If not already a registered healthcare professional, obtaining a CQC countersigned enhanced DBS check (CQC-CE-DBS) is necessary. This facilitates additional identity verification checks by the CQC as part of the DBS process.

Your CQC registration inspection

All domiciliary care providers are mandated to undergo registration with the industry regulatory body, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), prior to commencing operations.

To obtain registration, the CQC evaluates the business’s suitability to trade in accordance with the stipulations outlined in the Health and Social Care Act 2008, ensuring compliance with relevant regulations and legislation. Our comprehensive guide to the CQC delineates further details, including the five key questions employed to structure their inspections.

To initiate registration as a new provider with the CQC, you can commence the process here. Although no application fee is required, registered providers are obligated to remit an annual fee to facilitate ongoing monitoring and oversight.

Registering your business with HMRC

Opting to establish your domiciliary care enterprise as a sole trader necessitates registration for self-assessment with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to facilitate annual tax returns. In the case of a partnership, each partner must undertake separate registration.

Alternatively, you might opt to form a limited company instead of pursuing the sole trader or partnership route. In such instances, registering your company with Companies House is mandatory, concurrently enabling registration for Corporation Tax.

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Frequent asked questions

Is domiciliary care a good business in UK?

Yes, flexible healthcare staffing and home care services in the UK are worth over £12 billion per year and rising. The care business is non-seasonal, which means cash flow is steady and financial planning is easy. In addition, because home care is an essential service, it is recession-proof.

How to start a dom care company?

To start a dom care company the first thing you'll need to do is register with the Care Quality Commission(CQC). This is the independent regulator of health and social care in the UK. The CQC ensures health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, high-quality care.1

Start trading and building your business

Once your domiciliary care business is operational, it’s essential to assess what aspects are thriving in terms of staffing, service delivery, marketing, and overall operations, while also identifying areas where adjustments to your business plan may be necessary. As your enterprise expands, capitalise on available resources, including government guidance and industry-specific events such as care manager roadshows and conferences.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) will conduct periodic inspections of your agency to ensure ongoing adherence to quality standards and regulatory compliance, ultimately assigning a rating that can enhance your business’s marketing efforts and foster client confidence.

If you’re in the initial planning stages or launching your domiciliary care business, we extend our best wishes. Should you require specialised advice on domiciliary care insurance and risk management, our team is readily available to assist you.

Lee Jones profile picture
Business Finance specialist at Invoice funding

Seasoned professional with a strong passion for the world of business finance. With over twenty years of dedicated experience in the field, my journey into the world of business finance began with a relentless curiosity for understanding the intricate workings of financial systems.

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