As we all start to come out of the Covid lock down, our Torbay Branch goes from strength to strength

 

Our founder and CEO Andrew discusses recent developments during “Covid-19” with our first franchisee and branch director Karen.

Karen is as busy as ever, and we meet virtually over a “Teams” meeting, which has become the norm. I asked Karen to describe the last few months:

Time has gone so quickly. Its been a remarkable time. We have a great team of carers who have all worked so hard and adapted during a difficult time. We’ve had several carers that have had to self-isolate, but I am pleased to say that no-one has had Covid and that all of our clients have had continuity of care throughout. In fact, carers have stepped up to provide additional services when others (companies) have withdrawn their services. Even the cleaning companies stopped providing services. Its great that our team have been so adaptable. We’ve been busier than ever. They’ve done cleaning, lots of shopping and even unblocked drains when the client couldn’t get a  plumber to come out  during the first days of the lock down. As a carer said to me, I couldn’t have left (my client) unable to use her sink, so we just got on with it.

I’ve seen a lot of positives come from what could have been a disastrous situation. During the lock down you (the H.Q.) have introduced a lot of things to help the Branch Directors do their job of looking after clients.

(Regarding our carers) We always look for experience and the right attitude, the later is just as important as having good experience. Carers tend to stay a long time once they register with us. Its been really helpful to have a professional recruiter on board and extra support for me in branch.

We’ve gone almost paperless with new software and systems that help me behind the scenes. We’ve had people like Donna  join (our Chief Operating Officer) and Sam (our managing director) to add support so that we’ve all been able to work remotely. In fact, communication has improved with e-newsletters for carers, regular (virtual)  meetings with  other branch managers to share best practice and things like “PPE”. I’ve maintained a good supply of protective clothing for our carers and they’ve had everything that they’ve needed throughout.

As the saying goes, the proof of the pudding is always in the eating, and the “Friends” support has proved to be have been really good.

Client packages have grown throughout the lock down period as people have needed more help and support as well as personal care. I’m able now able to get out now to safely visit clients and prospective new ones. I carry my hand gel and mask. They (clients)  always prefer the personal touch that we provide and discuss requirements without putting any pressure on them.

What I really love about my job, is running my own business, the Torbay branch is all mine, yet I’m supported and have access to help and resources with the things that I’d worry about, such as being able to take time off.

I ask Karen what she’d like us to improve?

Three of our fabulous carers ready to go!

Getting more of the lovely carers we have!

That’s why we created a dedicated team to recruit, we are constantly interviewing  and screen new carers before they join a branch, freeing up time to visit clients, and pleased to say that we have an exceptionally high retention rate.

Our carers like knowing their clients and having the time to spend with them without any rushed visits. Our clients love that too, knowing who’s coming through the door and when.

And what stands out about “Friends” having worked in the care sector for so long?

I’ve never had a client complaint or a carer complaint! I’ve had clients ask for different carers (when they’ve not got on) which is rare. We take time getting the recruitment and introducing carers to clients.

I asked Karen what else she was planning for the summer:

I’m having a break and able to leave the branch with an assistant and back up from head office. We have a caravan in Cornwall that I’ve not been to since last October, I was going in the spring, but then we had the lock down, so that’s something to look forward to.

Have a well deserved break Karen!