August 18, 2021

Article

One of the positives to come out of the pandemic is that it has thrown the spotlight onto social care (in addition to healthcare), and associated with this we have seen a growth in the domiciliary and live-in care service offering. If you are thinking of starting a new care at home business, here are my thoughts.

  • If you are setting up a care service which offers personal care as opposed to a domestic and companionship service, you will need to cross the threshold of the CQC registration. Without this registration you cannot offer your care service.
  • Regardless of whether or not you require a CQC registration, you will need to consider the structure of your business (sole trader, partnership, limited company). There are pros and cons of each structure, so please speak to an accountant if you are unsure.
  • To register with the CQC you will need to have a Financial Viability statement signed off. Michelle Ferris speaks about this elsewhere in this edition, but most of what is required you will already have as it is key business information:
    • Your business plan will form the basis of your future branding and your service offering. Spend time on this as a strong foundation for your business.
    • Will the start-up business be self-financed, or are you seeking additional loan finance?
    • Consider your business continuity plan, including workforce development, training and capacity.
    • Will your care fees be a mix of local authority rates and private rates?
    • Give great thought to your start-up costs, an area usually underestimated, and how you are going to fund the first 12 to 24 months.
    • Consider your fixed and variable costs as the business grows.
    • Consider the digital software and planning packages needed to run your business effectively, and how much this will cost.
  • If you are considering a not-for-profit entity you should also consider whether it fits the criteria of a charity. Please see Michelle Ferris’ article elsewhere in this edition regarding the care sector and not-for-profit set up.
  • Getting your staffing right is vital. In a post-pandemic recruitment world, consider where your staff will come from and the remuneration package that you are offering.
  • Insurance will be a significant cost to your business, with high increases post pandemic.
  • Carry out your research on competitor service offerings. Will there be enough demand for your services? Is there capacity in the marketplace for another care at home service?
  • If you need a central office to work from, consider location, parking, accessibility, lease breaks if renting, and storage for PPE.
  • Have a system to take and follow up enquiries, both for potential service users and new staff.
  • Choose your digital bookkeeping system and make sure that it works for you, for example Xero, SAGE or QuickBooks.
  • Remember as you start up and build your business, referrals and your ability to stand out from the crowd are key. A strong business will grow from word of mouth referrals, staff referrals, and from visits to a strong and easy to navigate website.
  • As your business builds, encourage reviews and testimonials. Never be afraid to ask for a review, as it is one of the first pages viewed by people looking for care services.
  • Create a focus on the benefits of your service, seek service users and families who love what you do as the business develops.

In conclusion, the success of a start-up domiciliary and/or live-in care business will also depend upon your self-belief, and your ability to set out your vision and achieve your goals. Have a positive attitude, believe in yourself, and have the belief to be successful. Good luck!

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