How to set up a home care business [Startups Forum Discussion]

Wondering how to start a domiciliary care agency? Startups Forum members share their experiences and advice on how to become a home care provider

Thinking of setting up a care agency? The Startups Forum gets lots of responses to this which is why we have decided to turn it into an article outlining what you need to do to get your home care business up and running.

How do you get started?

Care workers are required by law to complete a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) – formerly known as a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) test – this is the first step you need to carry out when registering your business with the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Forum user Marie says – “First and foremost you must register for a DBS Check. Obtaining a CQC-countersigned DBS number can take up from four to eight weeks to get: it’s the first thing you should deal with.

Your DBS number must be CQC-countersigned – the reason being that the CQC’s DBS number is different from other DBS registration number. If your DBS number is not countersigned by CQC it will not be valid; this means CQC will reject your application.”

This is essential and must be obtained before you can go through the application process. It will need to be carried out by all individuals who are planning to provide the service, including all partners and your registered manager.”

Anyone who is applying to be registered persons in your business e.g. individuals, registered managers and partners must get their DBS countersigned. This is essential as anyone in these roles has the statutory responsibility to step in and carry out day-to-day management or care and oversee the service that is being delivered.

You can register for a CQC DBS here.

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Only when you have your disclosure will you be able to apply to register a home care business. To register your home care business, you will need to create an online account and fill in the appropriate forms. There are different forms for those who are starting a business as an individual, a partnership or an organisation so make sure you fill out the right one! Individuals are sole traders and therefore are responsible for all regulated activities. Partnerships are when two or more people are carrying out regulated activities, and therefore you both/all must register your details. You must register as an organisation if you are a local authority, NHS trust, registered company or charity or a limited liability partnership (LLP).

The CQC will be assessing your commitment to delivering outstanding care and they will look to see that in your application.

Forum user Marie said “You will need the following documents for online registrations (these are called supporting documents):

  1. Statement of Purpose
  2. Management policy/procedures document
  3. Safeguarding policy and procedures document
  4. Planning permission document (optional)
  5. Building regulation document (optional)
  6. Registered manager supporting evidence
  7. Governance document.

The file size of documents you upload must be smaller than 1,000KB (1MB). The system will only accept documents in the following formats:
• pdf (Adobe Acrobat)
• doc (Microsoft Word 2003 or older)
• docx (Microsoft Word 2007 or newer)

Once you’ve created an online account with CQC, you will receive an invitation by email. You can only register as a new manager online when you’ve received an invitation from CQC; if you haven’t, you can at present send your provider and registered manager forms with your statement of purpose via email.

For those registering online via a provider portal CQC will give you a link and a password; you can then apply for your registrations.”

You can do that here.

Forum user Marie said –  “To register with the CQC you need to be providing regulated activities. Regulated activities are when you give personal and nursing care to adults or children in social care. Personal care is not as involved as nursing care. If you are giving nursing care you must employ a registered qualified nurse: check them out first via the Nursing Midwifery Council website. They must also provide you with their registered Pin number.”

Alternatively you can go down the franchise route.

How much does it cost to start a domiciliary care business?

Forum user Marie asserts – “If you passionately want to start a domiciliary care company please make sure you have between £2,000 – £5,000 money in the bank to start from scratch.”

For more information on where to find funding have a look at our start-up guides to raising finance.

Forum user Teni says – “I am a qualified social worker with several years’ experience but everywhere we’ve turned to for advice, the experts want so much money before we’ve even set up the company! Of course, we are worried about paying out so much for advice – knowing fully well that we would still have to do all the work ourselves. If we spend so much of our start up fund on advice, how do we fund everything else? We decided not to borrow money from the bank and so we have a very tight budget. We considered buying a franchise but felt they were too expensive and we didn’t want to tie ourselves down in this way.” 

On the subject of bank loans and profits craigk1972 said – “Don’t borrow any money unless you’re desperate. We had a £20k bank loan and were just about to break even but needed to factor our invoices because we were owed thousands from the council; the bank wouldn’t release the debenture on the account. If you’re going to borrow,make sure you borrow enough. If you’re inexperienced you will need £50k to last you a year, and you will need to set up invoice factoring so don’t let the bank have the debenture on your books!!!

Average profit for a home-care company after three years with 1000 hrs a week would be £150k, so a nice little business if you can get it, but be prepared to work from 5am till midnight every day to get it started, unless you’ve got tens of thousands at start-up.”

See here how you can get free quotes to help unlock funds from your unpaid invoices.

Where can you run your business?

You can run a home care business from anywhere, although due to the nature of information collected by professionals in the care sector it is essential that you store sensitive documents in a secure place.

Forum user Stacey said – “CQC are quite happy for you to operate your service from home as long as data is secured safely. I have got a disabled ramp into my home but this is a matter of courtesy rather than a necessity. I am finding that a lot of providers start from home to save on overheads and then progress to an office once they have become established.”

Forum user Shaun Lewis added – “All you require is a secure place and a lockable cabinet to store service-user and staff documents (must be fireproof).”

Recruiting staff

You will need to appoint a Registered Manager who will manage all regulated activity on your behalf if you do not intend to be in charge of the day-to-day activities. A Registered Manager must meet the legal requirements required to carry out the role as well as the skills and qualifications.

When it comes to recruiting additional staff, you can post adverts on recruiter websites or through agencies.

Forum user Marie said – “Before you recruit you need to put a careful plan in place. There are many things you can do to recruit and the knowledge of how to retain the care staff and nurses is most important. Having a good knowledge of recruiting care staff and keeping them is an advantage. I can assure you the social services, even NHS care, would be knocking on your door because of the amount of service users they need to re-allocate to service providers at the moment.”

All views expressed in this piece are the opinions of the Startups Forum users only. Got questions or want to have your say? Let us know!