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24th January 2014

Don’t Make (Call Time) Promises You Can’t Keep!

Toy House and alarm clockWhen I hear that ‘Homecare agency 101’ has told people they guarantee call times I have to wonder why on earth they would make such promises.

Because what I don’t understand is how they can promise that. How can you make an agreement that your Carer will be there at the same time every day?

Whilst in an ideal world yes I would love to be able to say the service runs like clockwork and your Carer will be there at 9am every morning, in the real world this does not always happen.

It is difficult to be able to guarantee that all calls will be delivered at the scheduled time, as a whole range of issues can impact on the timing of the service. Delays will occur for a number of reasons. If care staff take unplanned leave through sickness or for family reasons, and a replacement has to be found and sent- which takes time. Care staff may be delayed on an earlier call if a service user is unwell. I live in a busy city, and one of the main reasons for delays is traffic congestion particular at peak times- just as our service users need us most. Weather conditions also feature heavily in reasons for delays.

So what should you do when you are being asked for ‘time critical’ or specific call times?

I sympathise that you may come under pressure to commit to a certain time and that’s fine to agree a time- as an approximate- not as a guarantee. Be clear in your correspondence with commissioners about this.

You should ensure that your Service User Care or Support Plan includes your aim to provide calls at a scheduled time, but that carers may be delayed for the reasons as mentioned above. I would also suggest you explain clearly to service users and advocates at your initial meeting about the scenarios and the possible impacts to their usual call time.

On occasions when calls are running late your aim should be that someone from your organisation contacts the service user and/or – if appropriate- their advocate, to let them know what is happening and the reasons why. You should think about -and confirm -- a clear process for communicating any delays to service users.

In Homecare, you have to manage people’s expectations of your service from the very beginning. You have a duty to be honest, open and transparent with your clients and their advocates, as well as commissioners of the service.

Rosie Robinson – QCS Expert Care Contributor


Business Support Manager

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