A Horsham nurse is urging patients to only use care companies which have backing from the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
The CQC is the regulatory body for all care providers, from NHS hospitals and GP surgeries to private nursing homes and home care firms.
Nurse Marlene Riecker has run Ascot Care Ltd based in Harwood Road, Horsham for seven years.
She is now writing a book to raise awareness of the importance of choosing registered care providers.
She said: “If care companies are employing care workers to provide personal care, feeding a client and giving medication, they have got to be registered with the CQC.
“By law all care agencies have got to be registered with the CQC.
“We provide home care and promote independence of our clients. Our care workers go into people’s homes to support them by assisting with personal care - assisting with bathing and showering; mobility needs and continence support; getting people out of bed; giving them medication and their meals; accompanied visits to hospital appointments and outings.
“We have our live-in care workers who live with vulnerable people who cannot be left alone as well as daily care workers. It’s about making a difference to people’s lives.
“We need to protect vulnerable people in the community. People need to understand about what a registered care provider is.
“It’s about meeting the care standards and providing care with integrity and compassion. Kindness and compassion is a way of life for me.”
Registering with the CQC is not an easy process. Mrs Riecker said: “It took Ascot Care months to be registered. We had to have all the policies and procedures in place, care plans, risk assessments and a health and safety set up. It’s necessary. I couldn’t have done it on my own.
“It comes with a certain amount of investment. Once you submit that to the CQC, you have to wait until they set an interview date.
“I had an interview and was categorically told that I could not employ one person to work with me until I was registered with the CQC.”
Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the CQC, Andrea Sutcliffe, said: “Providers – including individuals, partnerships and organisations – who are responsible for providing health and adult social care services regulated by CQC are required by law to register with us.
“We operate a rigorous and robust registration process so we can be satisfied that potential providers are committed and able to deliver high quality and compassionate care.
“This then allows us to do our job properly in making make sure people are receiving safe, caring, effective, responsive and well-led services that we expect – and that they deserve.
“It is a criminal offence for providers to carry on delivering any health and social care services we are required to regulate without being registered.
“Should people have concerns that a provider is not registered with CQC, we will always act on any information that is shared with us to determine what action needs to be taken.”
Anyone can check if a company is registered either by going to the commission’s website www.cqc.org.uk or call 03000 616161.
The website also contains all the reports of inspections the CQC has carried out, so people can check the standard of care being provided by a given company or NHS service.