Hello, my name is Andrew Senew. With my wife Joanna and our amazing team of 100 caring and compassionate people we run Home Instead, providing companionship- based homecare to older people in Edinburgh.
Your Director – Maureen – asked me if I would share some of our recent experiences and thoughts on the future.
None of us will forget 2020 in a hurry!
So many key workers stepped up big time – not just care and healthcare workers. An unexpected thank you can go a long way, so please actively seek them out and thank them in person.
Without being complacent, the sensible precautions we and other homecare providers have been taking have seen ‘home’ continue as a safe place to be, with few instances of Coronavirus. 2 of our team and 1 client were tested, due to symptoms – all negative. That’s out of around 250 people. As lockdown continues to ease, we remain on our guard!
When lockdown was first announced everyone wondered what this would mean. For us it had to mean business as usual. But what would that look like?
Specifically, our service offers longer visits of 2 hours or more; with a strong emphasis on companionship, as well as support with personal care. Would our clients want us that long?
Some of our more able clients chose to manage by themselves and suspended their services for a few weeks. Others asked us to do more – including some who were shielding. Understandably our CAREGivers had a lot of questions. We had to get our heads around the many updates and changing guidance. And we had to source PPE, which with some government help and through our extended networks we were able to do.
This all tested our key player office team. Their focus on our why – bringing joy to older people – rather than what we do, helped us take things in our stride. It may not have felt like it at the time!
We even found time to curate an online exhibition of art by our CAREGivers – with framed copies being given to some of our clients…
and put on a series of virtual vintage song sing-a-longs… https://www.facebook.com/HomeInsteadEdinburgh/videos/3095567780520097/
We prioritised supporting our team, taking time to listen and respond to their concerns. It seemed to work – in our independently run annual staff survey they told us 96% would recommend us as a great place to work and 95% said they felt safe at work.
What of the future?
I’ve just read a newspaper ad discussing the importance of physical distancing, wearing masks, observing quarantine conditions and the importance of ventilation. From the Spanish Flu of 1918!
Mmm! Do we always learn the lessons of history? So, what lessons have we learnt?
Although we managed to get the PPE we needed, it was hard work. Supply chains struggled. We’re now carrying more stock; extending our range of suppliers and taking part in buying cooperatives.
We had invested heavily in technology. This allowed us to run our office operations 100% remotely when we needed to; whilst continuing to visit our clients in person. We’ll be making further investments in technology for our operations; in ‘connected care’ to let clients stay in touch with the people who matter most and in ‘assistive care’ where technology can identify changes to routines which may indicate unmet support needs.
Care Homes and Day Centres have been important parts of the care landscape. For many people they will continue to be and hopefully they will bounce back strongly from tough times. Other people may feel differently and look for alternatives.
A Home Instead commissioned research survey of 2,001 respondents aged 65 plus in September 2019 found 98% of the over-64s surveyed said it’s important to them that they stay living independently in their own home. Given the choice, 70% of Britons aged 65 and over would prefer to stay in their home with a visiting carer, rather than move in with their family or into a care home.
We feel more people will now be looking for live in care as an alternative to moving into a care home, so are developing this as an option for our existing and future clients.
I hope you’ve found some of what I’ve had to say interesting. I’d be pleased to receive any questions, comments, suggestions at email@example.com and am happy to help in any other way I can.
Now more than ever a little bit of kindness is going to go a long way,
Andrew Senew, Owner and Director
7 September 2020