Our first ‘Friends of Friends’ board meeting, June 2021
A group of care professionals and business leaders from around the UK have come together to support the work and growth of Friends Helping at Home.
Friends Helping at Home was established over three years ago and set out to be different: to provide the type of care that we would want for ourselves or a loved one.
So why has there been so much interest in what Friends Helping at Home delivers, when so often we hear admirable platitudes from entrants into an established sector that can’t be delivered?
Friends Helping at Home is completely different to the accepted norm.
Friends Helping at Home provides a compliance framework for carers to become self-employed and attain high standards as recognised by the industry regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Royal College of Nursing, having introduced a quality management system throughout its five branches that cover South Devon.
The Friends Helping at Home care model enables those seeking personal care and extra support around the home, to be introduced to and meet carers in their own home (or with a family member, attorney) and is a safe way to be matched with carers and to have flexibility as needs change and have continuity of care.
Our customers enjoy having choice and knowing carers that know them.
Delivering what we promise
Paul Lilley, Director and Chair of the ‘Friends of Friends’ advisory group says, “it’s because of this refreshing, market-led approach, that truly puts the service user and provider at the heart of everything in a sustainable way, that we have been able to attract a great deal of interest and support (for what we are doing) from top care industry professionals and from the business and financial world.”
The purpose of the advisory group is to act as a sounding board for the Company as it expands it operations and provides an additional layer of governance.
The group encompasses a range of experts who like what Friends are achieving in its initial branches:
John Lilley is the Mental Health lead in Exeter and East Devon NHS with over 30 years experience and manages the Nye Bevan Programme which inducts senior executives into the NHS: “This is an approach (to care provision) that’s much needed.”
Darren Notman Training Manager and advisor St Thomas and St Guy’s Hospitals in London: “I met the Friends Helping at Home directors when I was a training project lead at the RD&E Hospital in Exeter, and loved what Friends had set out to accomplish.”
Wendy Marshfield is a former director in the NHS, advisor to the CQC, and until recently lead governor at Torbay & South Devon NHS Trust.
Sara Challice, nursed her husband for many years and is a care advocate, writer and broadcaster. Sara has just finished an interview with Channel 4 and author of “Who Carers” and is launching a “Care Masterclass”.
We also have business specialists which include James Twigger, a chartered accountant and from the banking world, Chris Barton, until 2020, head of franchising in the USA for HSBC and is now a regional director in London and the South East.
The initial meeting was virtual and the members of the group, which included some of the central management team, introduced themselves and said what it was that had attracted them, the consensus: the Friends ethos, and unique way of working that actually delivers.
The group discussed some of the challenges currently affecting the sector, in particular, recruitment.
Recruitment for any care business is the highest risk and a challenge given the prevailing pay, reward and lack of recognition that is prevalent in the care sector.
The Friends Helping at Home model, however, enables carers to earn up to double without increasing customer charges, making the business sustainable so long as overheads are carefully managed.
Sam Stuart-Hill, Managing Director: “We have invested in the carer onboarding process to provide due diligence for our customers, and also developing many carer benefits within a “culture of best in class” with access to ongoing support at branch level, training and personal development. It’s helpful to be able to discuss issues with the group that could affect our business.”
Andrew Richardson writes: “I founded Friends Helping at Home because I couldn’t find the type of care that I wanted for a loved one.
I wanted to provide a solution that puts ‘Care at Heart’ of everything we do.
The governance structure and everything else that followed has been built on that principle.
We have invested heavily to ensure best practice, tried and tested our systems and have five established branches.
I am delighted that we have been able to attract a diverse group of professionals to support us in ‘Friends of Friends’ – all advocates of what we do and wanting to help us develop.
We are at the point where we are ready to expand having established a professional central management team, that provides our branches with operations support, quality management systems, compliance and bespoke software.
We remain protective of ‘our baby’ and must maintain the Friends Helping at Home ethos and protect the way that we do everything as we grow our franchise network.”