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City of York buyers guide

Buying services and support is no different from buying anything else on the high street: some sellers will be more reliable than others.

This guide offers some simple advice to help you get value for money and avoid buying poor-quality products or services.

It pays to search wisely. Don't just choose the first supplier in an alphabetical list, or one with a flashy advert. Make a note of three or more suppliers who provide the service or item you want, so you can compare their offers and pick the best.

The next sections of this guide gives hints and tips on the types of things that you should ask a supplier or care provider before purchasing a service or item of equipment.

What are your first impressions?

Initial conversations with a care provider is a good introduction to a future relationship and how easy it will be to talk to or work with them.

  • Were they easy to get hold of?
  • Did they get back to you when they said they would?
  • Did they offer to meet with you to discuss your needs in person?
  • Did they ask if you want to talk to other people they support?

How can I find out about the quality of services?

The Care Quality Commission (CQC)'s role is to check whether Care Homes, Hospitals, GPs, Dentists and Services in your home are meeting national standards. Services that are required to be registered with CQC are regularly inspected and CQC inspection reports are published on their website. These provide detail about whether services are meeting the required standards. To find out more you can ring the Care Quality Commission on Tel: 03000 616161 or go to www.cqc.org.uk.

If the service you are looking to purchase is required to be registered with the Care Quality Commission, we strongly encourage you to read the latest CQC inspection report for the organisation on the CQC website.

You may also want to ask the organisation for detail about how they will meet your needs, the training and support they provide for staff and what quality checks they have in place. We would also recommend you to seek assurance that the organisation gets references and police checks on care staff (from the Disclosure and Barring Service - DBS Enhanced Checks).

What is the price?

Your support provider should confirm a price that will not change after you and they have signed the contract, unless by agreement. Please note that this may be a different amount to that stated on Connect to Support.

  • How is the price put together and what does it include?
  • If you are buying equipment or assistive technology,
    • is postage and packing included?
    • do you need anything else, for example, someone to fit it?
  • If an hourly rate is quoted for support, is this for 1:1 support or shared support?
  • Are there any extra charges that you need to know about?
  • Does the rate cover everything that you will need?
  • What will happen if you need more support during the contract - how will this be charged?
  • Do you want the provider to invoice you or will you pay another way?


  • You can pay safely through Connect to Support by credit card, debit card or paypal. Check how the provider will accept payment as some may also accept cash or cheque.
  • Do not give out your payment details unless you are sure the person is who they say they are and do not send cash through the post.
  • Always ask for a receipt. If you pay through Connect to Support you will receive this automatically with your full purchase history.
  • Your support provider might want to include an annual price increase in your contract - make sure you are aware of this.
  • There may be circumstances when prices need to be reviewed - make sure that there is a clear process for how you will be told about this.
  • Bear in mind that specialist provider agencies may cost more but may have more skills to support you and may be a better choice - make sure you consider this when making a decision.

What if things go wrong?

If things go wrong you want to be certain that any problems can be solved quickly and efficiently.

If you are buying equipment or assistive technology:

  • can you send it back if it is not what you expected?
  • what are the terms and conditions to do this?

Is the supplier clear about who you should contact if things go wrong? Is there a complaints procedure? Is it easy to understand?

Do you think that potential complaints will be taken seriously and investigated?

Does the procedure tell you how they will feed back to you about what is happening as a result of your complaint - and what you can do if you are still not happy?

Ensure that you keep copies of any correspondence with the supplier so that you are able to follow up any issues. Your Connect to Support account will keep a record of any quotation requests or orders placed with a supplier through the site.

Keeping Safe

We have a section on this website with information on safety.


If you suspect that you, or someone you know, is being abused please call City of York Council's Adults Safeguarding Team on 01904 555111.

The City of York Safeguarding Adults website gives further information about local authority safeguarding procedures and how to report concerns. http://www.safeguardingadultsyork.org.uk

What if you want to end your agreement?

  • People's circumstances change and there may come a time when you need to cancel your support agreement. You need to know you can do this easily.
  • Is there a procedure for ending your agreement?
  • Is there a notice period?
  • Are they any 'exit fees' such as staff salaries or other costs?

While every care has been taken in the compilation of this information, neither City of York Council nor shop4support will be held responsible or liable for (i) any reliance placed on this information or (ii) any loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any inaccuracy or error within these pages or be obliged to remedy such inaccuracy or error.

The Terms of use of this website are between shop4support and You/User (as defined in the Terms of use). City of York Council has been granted Third Party Rights under the Terms of use but shall not be held jointly or severally liable for any matter arising therein. City of York Council is not, nor shall be deemed to be, a party to any contract which results from the use by You/User of this website and shall not be held responsible or liable in respect of the same.

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