Christies Care is a family owned and run live-in home care agency, established in 1987. We specialise in providing live-in home care to dependent adults, carefully matching personalities so that our clients have a team of carers whom they know and like.
We have grown through word of mouth and positive recommendations. Our consistently good service to our clients and carers has enabled us to become one of the largest specialist agencies for live-in home care in the UK. Christies Care has clients throughout the country, from Scotland to the Channel Islands and we select, recruit and train our carers to look after their clients’ wishes.
Our Local Area Advisors are spread all over the UK , and visit our clients regularly, to complement the service given by our head office.
Christies Care has been inspected and rated as Outstanding by the Care Quality Commission – a rating awarded to less than 3% of all care agencies or care homes. We work closely with Social Services Departments and health professionals.
Our Saxmundham based support staff of around 75 people are there to make sure that we have all the procedures working well to act quickly and efficiently on each client’s behalf, including our ability to start work for a client often within 24 or 48 hours of being asked.
Over the years, we have invested heavily in creating a good environment for carers, staff and all our visitors. We have subsidised guest rooms for our carers, and a disability-friendly en-suite guest room for clients and other visitors who want to come and stay.
We do not let our clients down. Once we have started you are not left without a carer. Our size allows us to find a substitute for a carer who has to leave her client (through illness or a family emergency). We measure continuity of care. In any week, more than 90% of long-term clients will have a carer with them whom they have met, liked and have had caring for them before.
One of the most frequent questions potential clients ask us is “Will I like my carer? Will I get on with him or her?” Our answer is yes. For two reasons:
- Christies Care’s booking team has the expertise to make sure carers and clients get on well. How? Because the members of the team know their carers well. They meet and interview all carers and talks to carers frequently, building a good relationship. A booking co-ordinator explains how it works in more detail here.
- Our clients choose which carers they have. Our clients choose if they want a particular carer to form part of their regular team, or if they would prefer not to see her again. Our aim is to introduce carers to our clients who will be liked, and successful.
It is essential that carers have the right skills and attitudes to look after their clients. This is why all Christies Care carers have background checks, two in-depth interviews, an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and go through our intensive two-week residential training course, followed by compulsory distance-learning and follow-up tests.
Carers have their skills updated yearly (they stay here for a two day update course), and are expected to attend condition-specific training should that be needed.
As our client, you have a choice about how you want your carers to be managed.
The introductory model. We can introduce carers and you engage them yourself; telling them what you want them to do, how you want to live and agreeing the tasks she should carry out. You must be confident that the manner in which your carer carries out her tasks will not be subject to supervision, management or control by anyone. You must be able to sign a contract with the carer, to demonstrate that the carer is genuinely self-employed. Christies Care introduces suitable (trained, checked) carers to you. The carer is self-employed and responsible for all her tax and NI. With this model, a week of live-in home care costs between £650 and £950.
The domiciliary, fully managed model. The alternative is for Christies Care, as a CQC registered domiciliary care agency, to manage and control the carer. Christies Care (after consulting with you) tells the carer what tasks should be carried out and manages her performance. The carer is employed by Christies Care and Christies Care is responsible for all tax and NI. With this model, a week of live-in home care costs between £900 and £1,300.
We give our clients the care they want, when they want it. So, if you have a family emergency, and need a carer fast, we will act fast.
We know that if our carers are happy and confident in their abilities, they will do a good job. This is why we give all new carers a two week induction training course (including a two-day dementia course), and every carer comes back for a yearly update. We also have a specialist carer support team, who are there to offer help, advice and a listening ear to all of our carers, and our Local Area Advisors will visit our carers, if ever they want or need help, advice or just a chat.
Christies Care has clients throughout the UK (we have even had a client who lived in Gibraltar). Although most things are organised from our base in Suffolk, we know that a local connection, and meeting a local person to discuss care is essential.
This is why we have a network of Local Area Advisors, who will visit you whenever you want; whether you want to ask some questions about live-in homecare, want someone to give you advice about any aspect of care, or they simply pop in for a chat when they are passing.
We also have good relationships with local hourly care agencies, and can recommend good ones.
For most of our clients, the overall cost of engaging a live-in home carer is between £900 and £1,300 a week – depending on their wants and needs.
We are confident that we offer very good value for money, when compared to many residential home costs, the cost of 24 hour care from hourly providers, or many of our competitors.
Our team have used Christies Carers to look after their own relations. For example:
- Hugh (our Chairman) had Christies Care to look after his mother for the final three years of her life and to look after his mother-in-law for the last 7 months of her life;
- Our (now retired) Local Area Advisor Margaret had carers from Christies Care looking after both her mother and her mother-in-law for several years;
- Paula (another retired Local Area Advisor) had Christies Care for her mother;
- and Lin (a director) had her father-in-law cared for by Christies Care for five years.
Other members of our team have used us for their relations too. Therefore, we understand the concerns and expectations of our clients intuitively.
We are big enough to perform well; to have the in-house training capabilities, the carer availability and to have enough resources to solve most problems.
We are small enough to still keep our small company ethos of knowing our individual clients and carers well. So every client has a named person to talk to, as well as their local area advisor, who will visit whenever the client wants.
Anybody needing care is likely to be vulnerable to abuse. At Christies Care we take this very seriously.
- We check all prospective carers against the Independent Safeguarding Authority lists, have an enhanced Disclosure & Barring Service (previously called CRB) and we act on any convictions recorded.
- They need to provide us with two written references which we then check. Our team rings the referees to ensure they are who they say they are.
- We check the quality of carers’ work, including unannounced spot checks and act on any concerns.
Family ownership means that we act for the long term (a second generation is in place for succession). We can’t be forced to focus on short term performance, as we have no shareholder pressure, and we own all of our assets.
Because we recruit and train carers and look after our clients wishes from our Saxmundham base, we need a way to give our clients and carers close local support; so that we can meet our clients face-to-face, and get to know them well. Therefore we have a team of Local Area Advisors. Our Advisors live all over the country (from Fife to Yeovil, from Cheltenham to Felixstowe), and work for us locally. This way, our clients are rarely more than about an hour from one of our Advisors, whenever they (or our carers) want a face to face visit.
Visiting a new client
If you are seriously thinking about live-in care, or you want to start having Christies Care carers, one of our Local Area Advisors will come and visit you:
Then you can talk to someone face-to-face, to ask our advisor questions, and find out more about Christies Care and live-in care.
We want to get to know you, and can only do this properly with a face to face visit, both at the start of care and regularly thereafter. There’s no substitute for a good visit.
We also want to make sure that both carer and client will be working in a risk-free environment, as far as possible. Therefore our local area advisors will assess risks and make recommendations to remove or reduce those risks. NB We recognise that our clients have every right to take risks, if they want. Therefore we welcome in-depth discussions around our risk assessments and recommendations, because we don’t want any of our risk reduction suggestions to be restrictive.
Visiting our regular clients
We like to make a courtesy visit to our clients each year and maybe pop-in briefly a few times as well. Our fee covers up to two extra visits a year, if your wishes or needs have changed and you would like us to have an up-to-date record.
Visiting our carers
Our local advisors like to see our carers too, when they visit a client. Carers like it as it helps us give them more job satisfaction.
The complex task of matching the skills, attributes, outlooks and personalities of carers to suitable clients is managed by our booking team. They know the carers and spend time talking to clients and/or their families. This gives them the knowledge and the skills to assess which carer would ‘fit’ well with each client.
We organise our bookers in teams, so that if a client’s particular booker is on holiday for example, the rest of the team will still know enough about the client to be up to date and be able to make any decisions.
Life in the Christies Care booking office is certainly not predictable. I can find myself dealing with queries ranging from “help, my carer is ill and I need someone today” to “there’s a fox in the kitchen what shall I do?” My regular job includes introducing the regular team of carers to their clients and making sure the rotas and changeover of carers work.
The other main part of my job is matching carers to clients. A client may be just starting with us, or his regular carer may be sick. It is a great feeling when a client tells me that he or she really likes their new carer; that they have things in common, can discuss similar interests and get on very well.
Last Christmas, one client found that none of his team of regular carers was available. I introduced a male carer to this client, despite his reluctance, as he was used to female carers. When I rang in the new year, I found that they had had a great Christmas together and had enjoyed lots of walks and “men’s talk”. This experience has opened up the client’s horizons to having more of a mix of carers, who each engage and stimulate him in a different way.
I often find that the family’s perception of what their mother or father may want in a carer may be very different to what the client actually wants.
Early in my career as a booker, I was told by one client’s son that his mother would only like calm and quiet carers.
I therefore introduced calm and quiet carers. When I talked to the client, she always said that the carers were fine but there were no ‘sparks’.
I mulled this over with our Local Area Advisor, Heather (who had visited the client several times and knows her quite well), and she said that “I find that this client brings out the loud and bubbly side in me, I think she could do with someone who is more fun”.
So I introduced a more gregarious, outgoing carer and found that they got on fantastically well.
When I rang to see how they were getting on, I found that they had been dancing in the hallway (literally) and expounding on the joys of eating prunes and sharing healthy food tips and cooking skills.
I learned from this and focus on introducing carers who make the client happy first and foremost, as well as liaising with relations.
A major part of our job is interviewing and getting to know the carers. How else can we be sure that we are introducing the right carers for our clients? We sit down with the carers when they come here on induction training and have time to get to know what sort of person they are. We also talk to the carers at their work, seeing how they get on with different clients and generally getting to know them better and keeping up a rapport.
I have only been with Christies Care 2 years and it has been really rewarding to get to know my clients over the years and through a variety of changes in their lives. The job gets much better as we get to know our clients and can really understand their needs and wishes. We often share details of what’s happening in our lives. If I had a pound for every time I had been asked “Have you finished building your house yet?”, I would be a very rich lady. And before you ask, we are 18 months in and no, it is still not finished!
“I absolutely love my job and working for Christies.
I like that my job is so varied and no two days are the same. My colleagues are so caring, kind, knowledgeable and compassionate and I enjoy coming to work each day.”
“I used to be a support worker (as hourly care) for five years, so I understand that our carers have to have a very caring and understanding nature, and also have to use your initiative a lot.”
“I enjoy Learning about clients and their lifestyles, amazing histories and tales of ‘derring do’. While it can be challenging and frustrating it is also very rewarding and fun.”
“I work within a fantastic team and together we help to provide our clients with care workers who enable them to continue living at home and live a fulfilling life.”