Choosing Providers

The Services advertising on the Middlesbrough Matters Directory have not been individually assessed.

To be included on the Middlesbrough Matters Directory services will have met the registration requirements relevant to their service type.

To understand this criteria please read the Service Provider Registration Requirements

The tips included in this shopping guide are there to help you stay safe and get the right solution to meet your needs.

  • General Tips
  • Tips to employing a Service Provider
  • Tips to choosing a Residential Care / Respite / Nursing Homes
  • Tips to choosing a Home Care Provider
  • Tips for choosing Day Care

General Tips

The more you know about the trader the better. Traders with good reputations usually have them because they give a good service.

Know where the trader is based, you’ll need it if you want to complain. Don’t assume a web trader is based in the UK just because it’s web address has UK in it. Check out the geographical address and the phone number.

Keep a record of all details of your transaction including times, names, dates and emails.

Pay safely. It is rare to be asked for cash before you have received goods so be cautious if you are. Get advice from someone you trust if you are not sure.

For safer internet shopping look out for the closed padlock symbol. This is used in Microsoft and Netscape browsers to show that the site is secure.

Always check the small print before agreeing to a contract.

Remember to check any additional costs such as delivery costs.

Don’t be pressurised into buying things you do not want.

Before buying shop around to check prices or after sales service deals. Beware of impulse buys – you may regret it later.

Remember if something sounds too good to be true – it probably is!

Tips to employing a Service Provider

When you want to employ a tradesperson or a service provider the most important thing to consider is your personal safety.

Some general points to consider are:

  • Try to be specific and clear about what you want. Don’t forget to ask family and friends to help you to do this and to arrange for the help you need.
  • Service Providers are asked to provide land line numbers for the public to contact them by. You should be wary of those only willing to give you a mobile number.
  • Try to get at least three references and if you can, speak to previous customers
  • Do not just go with the cheapest option. Think about how well you can communicate with the Service Provider and the quality of their work.
  • Try to use providers that are members of a recognised accreditation scheme.
  • Ask for a written quotation and a written contract as this offers you protection if anything goes wrong.
  • Any changes to the contract should be agreed and put in writing before the work is done.
  • Only pay for work that has been done. Sometimes Service Providers/Traders ask for an advance towards materials and it is reasonable to agree and pay a percentage of this cost.  A deposit should not exceed 30%.
  • Ask for a receipt for any payments made.

If you are in any doubt or have any concerns take time and ask someone for advice.

Tips to choosing a Residential Care / Respite / Nursing Homes

In order to pick the right home for yourself or someone you are assisting to find suitable accommodation you must first understand your/their particular care needs to help choose the right type of home.

It is best to view as many homes as possible so that you can compare what each home has to offer.

It is good to view a home without an appointment and/or make an appointment with the Home Manager so you can ask any questions that you have. During your visits speak to residents, their family and staff to get their views.

To aid your viewing and to help you make a decision you may wish to consider some of the following points:


  • Is the home registered to provide the level of care you need?
  • Does the home have a good CQC inspection report?
  • Does the home have a good reputation?
  • How long has the home been established?
  • Does the home meet your cultural and religious needs?


  • Is the home in the right location for you?
  • Can relatives and friends easily visit?
  • Is the home accessible by public transport?
  • Is there parking?

First Impressions

  • What are your first impressions when you arrive?
  • Is the outside of the home well kept?
  • Is the home and reception welcoming and friendly?
  • Are there any unpleasant smells?
  • Is the home clean and well maintained?
  • Are the staff welcoming and friendly?


  • Does the atmosphere feel right?
  • Are you offered refreshments?
  • Are you offered the opportunity to spend some time in the home, maybe an afternoon or to visit for lunch?
  • Is everyone’s privacy and dignity being respected?
  • Are relatives and friends encouraged to visit?
  • Are visitors welcome anytime?
  • Does the home feel homely?


  • Does the home offer the type of room you want?
  • Are you able to look at available rooms?
  • Is the room clean and bright?
  • Are the ensuite facilities or facilities nearby?
  • What furniture is provided?
  • Are you encouraged to bring your own possessions?
  • Can residents change rooms if they want?
  • Can you have a phone and television in your room?
  • Do the rooms have an assistance call system?
  • Are external doors kept locked?   


  • Are there a mixture of living spaces e.g. lounge, dining room, garden?
  • Is there a lift to the upper floors?
  • Is there easy access for wheelchairs?
  • Are there handrails around the home?
  • Does the home have suitable facilities for your needs?
  • Are toilets available in all parts of the home?
  • Is there access to computers and the internet?
  • Are books and papers available?
  • Does the mobile library visit?
  • Are there facilities for visitors to stay overnight?


  • Is the home flexible in its approach to meeting changing needs?
  • Are Care Plans regularly reviewed?
  • Are you allowed to make choices about your daily routine?
  • Are you and your relatives encouraged to contribute to your care plan
  • Are residents registered with the local GP, dentist, optician?
  • Can residents get up and go to bed when they want?   


  • Do residents have a key worker?
  • What training do the staff receive?
  • What qualifications do staff have?
  • What is the staffing ratio to residents?
  • Do staff interact well with residents?
  • Do the residents appear happy?
  • Does the home Manager give you confidence?
  • Are there members of staff who speak your language?
  • What is the turnover of staff?


Does the home have important equipment available such as:

  • Hoists
  • Walking aids
  • Wheelchairs
  • Height adjustable beds
  • Pressure relieving mattresses
  • Furniture suitable for older people   


  • Is there a current menu on display?
  • Is there a choice of menu at all meal times?
  • Can meals be taken in residents rooms?
  • Is food freshly prepared?
  • Are there snacks and drinks available at all times?
  • Are special diets catered for?
  • How are residents who need help with eating assisted?
  • Can residents prepare food and drinks for themselves?


  • Is there a regular activity programme?
  • Are there staff with responsibility for organising activities?
  • Are residents consulted on activities?
  • Are there outings for residents?
  • Does the home have access to a mini bus?
  • Are special occasions recognised and celebrated?
  • How are residents religious needs met?
  • Can family and friends participate in activities?
  • Are there exercise opportunities?
  • How do residents find out about activities?   

Policies and Procedures

  • Is there an admission pack for new residents?
  • What quality audits are carried out on the home?
  • Is it clear exactly what is included in the homes fees and what are extras?
  • How are fees collected?
  • Do self-funding and local authority assisted residents pay the same rate?
  • Is there a complaints and compliments policy?
  • Are there any restrictions on visiting times or numbers of visitors?
  • How do you encourage feedback?
  • Is there a residents committee?
  • Do you have any access to advocacy services?
  • How does the home inform relatives and friends if residents are unwell?
  • What are the notice conditions in the contract?

Tips to Choosing a Home Care Provider

In order to pick the right home care for yourself or someone you are assisting you must first understand your / their particular needs to help choose the right services to be delivered in the home.

Whether you are choosing care for respite or for long term the following tips apply.

Is help needed with Household care? This can include help with cooking, cleaning, shopping and doing the laundry.

Is help needed with Personal care? This can include help with dressing, eating, bathing, going to the toilet and general hygiene.

Is help needed with Medical care? This can include managing medication, administering medication, getting to and from the Drs, managing wounds and dealing with physical therapy issues.

Once you have decided what kind of help is needed you should be able to create a basic job description to help identify the responsibilities to be undertaken by the person(s) you employ.

Be sure to include the person who will be receiving the care in this process if they are able to participate.

Take time to investigate what is available to you and to research relevant information about the individual or agency you choose to provide your services. 

Things to consider when employing an individual

  • Conduct an interview with each candidate, preferably face to face
  • Assessing the potential employees work history
  • Having a Job descriptions based on the needs of the individual (see above)
  • Be specific about what home care is required?
  • Be clear about what hours of work are required?
  • Do they work weekends?
  • Discuss salary and payment schedule. Do not pay wages in advance.
  • Are they willing to sign a contract?
  • Are they insured?
  • Can they provide verifiable references?
  • Are they a professional care giver?
  • Are they accredited with a known and trusted scheme?
  • If required for the post do they hold a current driving licence?
  • What training have they undertaken?
  • Are they a legal resident of the country, or do they have legal work authorisation?
  • What experience do they have in this type of work?
  • Request both work and personal references
  • Have they cared for anyone with similar needs as those you have identified?
  • Are there any aspects of the care required that are difficult for the worker to undertake?
  • Is back-up provided if they cannot attend a shift?

Things to consider when employing an Agency

  • How long has the agency been in this business?
  • What areas do they serve?
  • Ask to see their last Care Quality Commission Inspection Report
  • What services are available through the agency?
  • Are all staff CRB checked before being employed?
  • Do you interview all of your staff before offering them work
  • Do you offer various levels of expertise?
  • How do you match the most suitable worker to meet the need identified and will you always have the same person caring for you?
  • What happens if my regular worker is off sick or on holiday?
  • What qualifications do staff have?
  • What ongoing training do they undertake?
  • Are staff trained to deal with complex conditions such as dementia or Parkinson’s?
  • What are your prices?
  • Is there a minimum charge if I only require a small amount of care?
  • What are your payment terms?
  • What is your cancellation policy?
  • Can the agency be contacted outside office hours and in an emergency?
  • What procedures are in place for emergencies?
  • Is the agency insured to protect your safety and interests?
  • Do they have a Code of Practice?
  • Do you have a Complaints Policy and how are problems resolved?
  • Compare different agencies

When making your decision, don’t cut corners, take time to do your research and then choose the best provider that meets the needs of the person requiring the care.

Tips to choosing Day Care

In order to pick the right Day Care you must first understand what services the person who will be attending want and need and also the needs of the carer.

Consider if you are looking for:

  • Social Activities
  • Mental Stimulation
  • Education
  • Exercise
  • Support for the carer
  • Support for complex conditions such as Dementia


  • How long has the centre been in operation?
  • Is the centre registered or accredited?
  • Who owns or sponsors the centre?
  • Is there insurance in place cover all services?
  • How does the centre ensure safety?
  • How does the centre ensure safety?  


  • Is the centre easily accessible?
  • Can the person attending get to the centre?
  • Is transportation available?
  • Is there an extra charge for transportation?


Does the facility accept people who:

  • Are incontinent
  • Are in wheelchairs
  • Have difficulties communicating
  • Have behavioural problems
  • Wander
  • Have special dietary needs   


  • What activities are provided?
  • Are there individual and group activities?
  • Do people interact with each other?

First Impressions

  • What are your first impressions when you arrive?
  • Is the building accessible for wheelchairs
  • Are the staff welcoming and friendly?
  • Are there any unpleasant smells?
  • Is the centre clean and well maintained?
  • Is there comfortable furniture for activities and relaxation?   

Hours and Cost

  • What days and hours is the centre open?
  • What is the policy regarding late arrival or late pick up?
  • What is the cost – is it hourly, daily, weekly?
  • Are all activities included in the cost?
  • Are meals included in the cost?


  • Are the staff friendly?
  • Do volunteers help?
  • Are staff CRB checked?
  • What is the staff client ratio? (six clients per staff member is a good ratio)   

Special Needs

  • Are individuals with Dementia / Alzheimer’s included in activities?
  • How do they deal with behavioural problems?
  • Are there specific behaviours or care requirements that would require withdrawal from the centre?
  • Can the centre?
  • Dispense medicines
  • Remind individuals to take pills
  • Assist with toileting
  • Handle incontinence

Food and Drink

  • Are sample menus available?
  • Do they cater for special diets?
  • Are drinks available throughout the day?   


  • What are the centres expectations of the carer(s)?
  • Is there a place to isolate individuals who may become ill?

The tips included in this guide are not definitive and are there to help you stay safe and to get the right solution to meet your needs.