Hiring a carer or nurse through a home care agency can be expensive, but the services they provide could be more than worth the extra cost.
Kelly Harper, CEO and Founder of Algarve Care and Support explains how agencies work and why they charge what they do. She also shares 4 essential things plus a little bonus question to ask any agency before making a decision who cares for you in your home.
As an expat, without out a doubt, choosing to live in the Algarve is probably one of the best decisions you’ve made and quite rightly so, with the beautiful weather, amazing views and wonderful people, who wouldn’t want to live here?
Well you might argue, that life is not quite so forthcoming for those who have reached the point in their life where it’s no longer possible for them to manage alone in their home and they require the services of a Home care agency where support can be provided round the clock seven days per week if necessary.
After establishing a career in Health and Social Care in the UK, I met some amazing carers and nurses who taught me well but also witnessed some really quite alarming practices. So, when I decided I wanted to run my own care business, it was really important for me to make sure that my business didn’t make the same mistakes. I wanted to be the people choice and to own the care business that chooses people to join the team that understands what it takes to care for others and know how to be sympathetic, compassionate and really want to help others live independently with dignity and respect.
These values would be and are today at the forefront of everything we do at Algarve Care and Support and I am delighted to be a part of an essential industry here, helping Expats in Portugal live happy comfortable lives with the dignity and respect they want and deserve.
I am also conscious of how my customers feel and just how difficult making a decision to choose a Care Company or individual to look after you can be.
Whether its for their self or someone else, often people that turn to us in there hour of need are like rabbits staring into a car’s headlights, they have no idea where to turn and are simply startled at the enormity of the task ahead.
As a proud individual that has always been able to cope with everyday tasks and of course always being fiercely independent, it’s hard enough to accept that you can no longer fulfil the simplest of tasks such as putting on your socks or remembering to turn off the gas or even remembering that you put something onto to the gas to cook in the first place!
So, when you do come to face facts that life simply isn’t going to get any easier from here on…. what do you look for when choosing the right home care support to help you maintain your everyday needs?
Here in the Algarve, whilst the choice of care services may not be as vast as those you may find at home in other countries, there are options here and you can find individuals and care companies offering various types of support from doing your shopping to live in care provision and supporting those living with life limiting conditions.
Depending on how big or small the capacity they operate in, this will depend on the level of services they can offer, how far they will travel to your home and what they will do for you, but you can guarantee one thing, if you employ the right service, life will be a lot easier and more enjoyable for you.
Most care companies an d individuals, will offer an initial assessment normally carried out in your home to discuss with both you and your family how best they can care for your needs and before you know it, life becomes more manageable.
So, what does an easier life cost?
Well, obviously that will depend on what level of service you require however, care services don’t come cheap and generally speaking you can expect to pay anywhere between €12 per hour for basic care up to around €25+ per hour for nursing services but this can and will vary.
Care services will generally be more expensive with an agency than an individual who offers this type of service on a private basis but there are pro’s and con’s to using both. It’s my suggestion you really explore your options before making your decision.
Individual Carers are often self-employed and can provide very intensive care relationship that forms a strong bond with the customer and the family however, from an agency perspective, whilst costing slightly more than individual carers, you could benefit from the following advantages…
- Agencies constantly recruit and screen caregivers so that when you call, they can come up with just the right caregiver for you, taking experience, skills, and temperament into account.
- They will normally have someone ready to fill in when your primary caregiver is sick and to work on weekends or through the night if you need care 24/7.
- They will have a Lead Nurse to supervise their team on a regular basis and provide you with a knowledgeable person to call day and night.
Whilst I am sharing this important information, its worthy of note to mention that agencies are strictly regulated by Portuguese licensing authorities. Authorities here have a wide range of regulations from ensuring your privacy to recruitment screening processes and a whole lot more.
They should be registered as a business at the Conservatórias de Registo Comercial (The Portuguese version of Companies House in the UK). As with any business, they must also carry Employee and Public Liability Insurance and if they use care staff who are enrolled into the self-employed, Recibo Verde (Green Receipt) Scheme, those carers should carry their own insurance too.
Good Care Agencies will also be registered with the Segurancia Social and carry a certificate and a license number to prove this. Being a properly registered care agency not only means they are obliged by law to meet certain standards of practice but they are licensed to deliver the services you pay them to provide.
Finally, care agencies are usually inspected on an annual basis here in Portugal, frequently and without notice. If errors are discovered, on the spot fines can be issued, if they are lucky, the agency is given a short time frame to make corrections that are scrutinised again on the next inspection. If negligence or abuse is discovered, the penalties almost certainly go as far as removing their licenses, or worse.
So how do you know what to ask to find these things out?
I’m hoping the following 4 points will give you a hand in helping you choose the right service for you
All businesses have Terms &Conditions, they are important to the running of the business so not only will they outline who they are regulated by, they can also indicate what their values are as a care business too.
You may want to ask about terms around a dishonesty policy because it’s not a required provision here in Portugal. This protects you against thieving, embezzlement and other dishonest activities, including negligence.
2. Carer/Nurse screening
The agency’s Care Manager or Lead Nurse should analyse each applicant’s screening form, not an administrative assistant.
Nothing against administrative assistants, but the Lead Nurse will be the best one to spot the right carers with the right attitude and they will know their team and the clients the person will be working with to suitably match them together. Plus, they just do a better job when researching for past job-related references.
Filling in for members of the team who call in sick and staffing for weekend shifts are often where home care agencies can fall short. What you need to know is whether the agency can guarantee a backup member of staff, no matter what.
4. Your opinion matters
Ask the care agency for information about the carer they have in mind to look after you, ask to meet them or even better ask to meet a few of them. It’s really important you are comfortable with the person taking care of your needs and essential if you are going to build a working relationship with them
A little bonus tip!
The hourly rate is always important. Agencies are usually flexible with their rates, within reason. Be sure to get a few quotes when it comes to costs.
If you are quoted €20 per hour, but they know that another finalist on your list has quoted €17 or €16.50 per hour, whilst it’s not always the case, they might match the lower rate if it is worth their while.
Algarve Care and Support offers all types of care services from companionship to Cancer care, We boast a diverse range of Nurses who are registered in Portugal and Carers of whom most are trained to the British NVQ level 3 standard as well as qualified to a nursing level. We offer services right across the Algarve from East to West and have carers available now.
So, when the day is at an end, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Algarve Care and Support for one can offer answers to your questions.
If you would like a free no obligation chat about your own needs or if you think we may be able to help someone you know here in the Algarve then call 00351 920 419 239 or contact us via or email address at email@example.com