Why I started Friends Helping at Home
With our fourth branch about to open, I was asked to give some background as to why we started and what makes us so different:
I started Friends Helping at Home because I wanted to develop a company that could enable care to happen the way that I would want for myself or a loved one. I can recall my grandmother’s gradual decline and how that stressed my parents, long past retirement age themselves, having to arrange and fund care for my grandmother; and more recently, what I experienced when I acted for a high net worth individual with lasting powers of attorney, as tasked by a solicitor to look after their client. I discovered how difficult it was to arrange “good care”, irrespective of money or funding. What I found simply didn’t have a heart.
As the consumer it’s easy to see the flaws in something, especially when you’re experiencing poor service. The care system appeared to me to be “tick-box” led, lest someone sue the provider for a mistake, yet the very purpose, the task involved of how that care was given – the client’s experience – didn’t seem to matter or feature in the process. I know that there are many who have left the care sector due to the pressures associated with being under-resourced or with insufficient time to provide the care needed. Whilst there are many commentators and genuine people who are looking for solutions to the current care crisis, I started with the simple aim of creating a company that enabled the delivery of what people wanted with in a good governance structure.
Care at Heart
I wanted to see a service that was sustainable with everyone involved feeling valued. I wanted to attract the right people who see care as a vocation, and important necessity in helping people to lead their final years with dignity and maybe a new zest for life!
To make the business entirely client-led, consumers would need:
Choice and to know who’s coming through the door, and for those care-professionals to know and have time for their clients.
The service had to offer excellent value for money, be flexible so that it could respond to the changing needs of the individual receiving the service.
Overall, it had to feel a good experience in what is an intrusive but necessary service.
I wanted clients to have the ability to add companionship and other social aspects of enabling them to remain living in the comfort of their own home.
My red line no rushed visits, with both service- -user and -giver having the time to establish a professional relationship.
All that sounds too good to be true? Well we have a tried and tested way of working with excellent feedback. So if the customer doesn’t get on with the service provider, there’s a no fuss way of changing and finding the right person. Every client (family or representative) has a local single point of contact to discuss their requirements and can respond as circumstances change.
I wanted to attract the best, vocational people to provide the care and support services and I knew that that would be hard to find in a sector that undervalues it health care assistants on a minimal wage. If you need care and help at home you needed a valued person. Someone who sees care differently. Someone who values and feels valued themselves in providing care. Taking that we can tick all the boxes – DBS, references, experience, qualifications, training and on-going support – I wanted to attract pleasant, friendly and professional people. The litmus test being that we only register those that I’d want looking after me or a loved one. So to be able to develop a sustainable business model, (no care givers = no clients = no business) the care-givers would have to earn significantly more and be joining a network that valued its carers, something outside of the norm, where carers could develop their career in care and flourish themselves.
The last part of the puzzle was to establish the centre or a head office, I call it the “mother-ship” that could maintain the vision and ethos whilst providing the help and support. We now have specialist professionals on board supporting the business and the local branch directors.
We’re looking for good people to open branches with us
This means that the service can be expanded on a much wider scale with individuals – Branch Directors managing an area where they themselves could be that conduit between the client and the care givers; just as I was when I was tasked by a solicitor to arrange the right kind of care and support for their valued client.
You can contact me, Andrew Richardson: 0333 202 71 71 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.