10 Questions for Care Providers

If you are considering residential care as an option for your child then it is very important to ask the right questions of the care provider at the outset.  Here’s a starting point for ten things you need to ask at an initial meeting:


1.  Can the provider really meet your child’s needs

The most important question to ask is whether the provider really can meet ALL the needs of your son or daughter.  It’s no good at 95%, this is a big decision and will affect their future health and happiness and you need to be 100% confident they can care for your child day in day out and support them to lead a happy life.  You know your child better than anyone else, know their behaviours, likes, dislikes – the small things that make a big difference.  Don’t be put off asking the hard questions or allow yourself to be  encouraged to believe something that in your gut you know is not right.


2.  Activities

Ask what activities your son or daughter will be doing on a daily basis.  You could ask to see a diary for a week for someone already living in the home or ask to see an example of what your child will be doing in the first six months of living at the home.  If looking at supported living, ask what happens if a member of staff doesn’t turn up for work and what contingencies are in place for this eventuality.


3.  Personalisation

As a placement will be your child’s new home, ask how they can personalise their space just like they would at your home.   Feeling secure is a big part of being happy and being allowed to personalise a bedroom is one way to help someone feel like it is their space to relax and have leisure time in. 


4.  The process when things go wrong

Just like at home, from time to time, things are going to go wrong.  The most important thing is for you to know how the provider is going to act when they do, how they are going to inform you and what the process is to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.  Knowing that there are adequate measures in place will make it easier for you to worry less.


5.  Core teams & support workers

It is likely that your son or daughter will have been in an environment where the people around them don’t change too often; a family, a college support team, a school teacher all provide consistency in their world.  Moving to an environment where there could be many different people in their daily lives can be a big change.  It’s important to know that there will be some consistency in their support team so that the team can get to know them well, understand their dreams and aspirations, what makes them happy or unhappy and also learn any behavioural trigger points. 


6.  Staff Training & Whistleblowing

Ask what policies and procedures the care provider has for maintaining training records.  A well trained and motivated team can make all the difference in the atmosphere of the home and to the daily lives of those they support.  If required training is not carried out then mistakes can creep in and skills forgotten.  You can also ask how the staff team will be trained to support the particular needs of your child. 

It is very unlikely in a care environment that when things go wrong only one person knows about it.  A good whistleblowing policy allows other staff to highlight any abnormalities without threatening their position.  Ask what this policy is and how many times it has been implemented in the last year.


7.  Celebrations

Working towards achievements is a way to help continuous development.  Ask how good things that have happened are celebrated, how often and what for.  Even the smallest acknowledgement can make a big difference and the marking of achieving a goal is important in the long term.  Ask how special events, birthdays and special occasions are shared and celebrated.  This will give you a flavour of how important the people being supported are to the organisation.


8.  Assessment

We say it over and over again but it really is important.  Getting the right assessment for your son or daughter will make all the difference in ensuring the right care and support is put in place for them.  Ask about the assessment process, how many times are they going to visit you, where, at what times, how will they feed back to you what they think.  Any good provider will do an in-depth and very detailed assessment over a period of time, often visiting a couple of important places where your child currently is and talking to many people connected with them.  This should be standard and you should expect this.  Don’t settle for anything less.


9.  The transition process & review

Ask what the transition process is, how long it might take, ask about the detail, what will happen when, why and the logistics.  We’ve known some transitions take up to a year and a half because that was the right thing to do for that person.  For others, it could be one or two overnight stays before moving in.  A good transition will make all the difference in helping your son or daughter feel settled, secure and happy in their new home.  It will also quickly highlight any issues that may have to be dealt with.


10.  Longer term development

Focusing on the assessment, transition and move is absolutely right but remember this is hopefully a long term placement.  Ask what happens after the first six months, what longer term plans are put in place to ensure the continuing success of the placement.  Ask what the review periods are and how the reviews are conducted.  As you know, people’s needs change over time and it is important to keep abreast of what is going on, how your son or daughter’s needs may have changed and what the provider is going to do to accommodate these changes.