Among all the doom and gloom, we have all experienced during the pandemic it was good to hear that some providers have adapted new ways to achieve growth in their businesses.
A good example is Diane Francey, co-founder of Home Help Me Care – a care agency based in Edinburgh – the turbulent events of the past 15 months have actually served to boost her passion for assisting the elderly.
“Behind the scenes it was a lot of hard work – the paperwork, the policies, sourcing enough PPE,” she admits. “It was definitely a stressful time for our carers because they were working in the community and at the beginning no-one knew what they were dealing with. One of our main concerns was ensuring we kept their spirits up. “We pulled through together as a team and it’s made us much stronger as a company.”
Growth of the company
Ms Francey, 38, founded Home Help Me Care in 2017 with business partner Rickie Tank, 46 with the aim of providing a personally-tailored care service for elderly people in the comfort of their own homes.
Materialising from humble origins where Ms Francey helped neighbours in need of assistance, turnover has doubled in the past two years with the company presently being at full client capacity.
“I was a stay-at-home mum,” Ms Francey explains. “My last child was going off to school, so I started using my free time to help some of the elderly people in the local community and it quickly grew arms and legs.
“I realised that I absolutely loved what I was doing, and I got so much satisfaction from it.
“I then met Rickie who was working within financial services at the time, and after explaining what I was doing she decided it sounded really interesting and that it was something she wanted to get involved in.”
Ms Francey, originally from Glasgow, says the company started with just £200, with no funding support or loans from outside sources. “We started very small and any profit went straight back into the business, which meant that at the start we had to forfeit any wages – but we knew it was going to be successful.”
Now with 29 staff members and a long waiting list for new clients, Ms Francey is focusing on how to best improve the company for both staff and her customers.
One recent boost for the entrepreneur came after Home Help Me Care was announced as a finalist in the Scottish EDGE’s 2021 awards earlier this year.
“I think it started from over 300 applicants and we made it down to the last 19, which was an amazing feeling,” Ms Francey highlights. “It made us take a hard look at what we really want to achieve in the future and how far Home Help Me Care can actually grow.”
Centre of excellence
The main project for Ms Francey and the company at present is creating a Centre of Excellence.
She describes the centre as a much-needed base for elderly clients to have a gathering point that is focused around community and which can also function as a base for important appointments.
“We would like to bring lots of different professionals under the one roof, from podiatrists to hairdressers. It should be a place where we can take clients and somewhere that can increase our sense of community.
“There were five main dementia centres that we used before the pandemic, three of which will not be reopening. It’s so crucial for elderly people to have somewhere to go.”
Working in a small geographical area
With many care agencies populated throughout the country, Ms Francey, who still does daily care visits herself, identifies a key to the success of Home Help Me Care, has been the decision to operate in a small geographical area.
“There’s enough work in the north of Edinburgh,” she stresses. “If you’re doing a good job in the community then everybody knows word of mouth spreads like wildfire. During the pandemic we did more work than ever before, there was never a point where the flow of visits or jobs coming in stopped.
“I still get so much career satisfaction from the work I do – I believe you’ve got to do what you love in life. Seeing clients waiting for you at the window smiling, it doesn’t matter how big the company grows, that’s what it’s all about.”
Like so many other providers Home Help Me Care has battled through the turbulent times of the pandemic. However, the Agency has not stood still and through commitment, enthusiasm and adaption has managed to see growth in the business. Given the number of homecare providers who have survived the pandemic I am sure this is one good example among many of business who have had to adapt to survive as a result of the impact of Covid 19.
Albert Cook BA, MA & Fellow Charted Quality Institute Managing Director Bettal Quality Consultancy