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Emma Hanwell | Director Registered manager | Folkestone Home Care

Today, statistics demonstrate that the majority of the aged population in the United States plan to stay at home for as long as possible, despite changes in health, mobility, or cognition. Home care providers have stepped up to the challenge, providing more opportunities for care and assistance at home than ever before; this includes services ranging from cooking or light housekeeping to meal preparation, transportation, and personal care.

Folkstone Home Care came into being, when Emma Hanwell realised that there was nothing she could do to improve her situation as a carer. She felt great dissatisfaction every time she felt she could not take care of her clients in the way that she felt was right and specifically the conditions she was working under. Emma set about discussing the prospect of having her own company with her parents, as they both had much to offer in shaping Folkestone Home Care.

Emma’s father, who is now retired, had a successful international company of his own for many years, KeyMed, one that was ahead of its time in terms of staff conditions, respect, and values.

Emma’s mother is an incredibly caring individual who has concrete opinions as to what “caring” actually means in real terms. If her mother were not retired, Emma would have employed her as a carer and she would have been amazing.

The company values are based around being accountable, respecting others and integrity. Its ethos has always been what Emma believes to be true; we should treat everyone as a human being first and foremost and as such deserve equal respect and must be engaged with in a fair and just way regardless of gender, beliefs, lifestyle, or personal choices. “The person-centred care is not just for clients, it is for my staff too,” says Emma.

Below are the highlights of the interview between Emma and Insights Care, where she expresses her opinions on the current landscape of the home care services niche and how her organization has gained a stronghold within the same.

Tell us about your home care solutions that make your company stand out from the competition?

The company stands out from the crowd in many areas. The list is not exhaustive but an example.

We follow the upside-down management principles of Mr Timpson. I am the least important person, and it is my job to allow others the freedom to use their minds and make their job work in a way that works for them. Without the carers I have nothing, and I never forget that.

I pay staff for their whole shift not just for their care calls and they all have contracts with hours guaranteed. We have a car care scheme that pays for their tyres (one set per year) and mot test. They also have private health care cover.

With content staff we have very very low sickness and very low staff leavers. This is good for consistency of care and for the client’s well-being. We never take on clients unless we can give them the call times they requested. I have turned away many because I know I cannot accommodate what they would wish for.

Emma, please brief us about your journey in the healthcare industry.

I found myself alone with a young child and no income! I thought as everyone did years ago that anyone could get a care job so long as you had a car. This is what I am fighting against now, the attitude that care is an easily obtainable job that requires no skill. I quickly realised why care jobs were so easy to come by and it is because of the high turnover due to carers being undervalued, over worked stressed and under paid. Make no mistake the job of carer requires a person with exceptional life experience and multiple skills.

What is your opinion on the impact of the current pandemic on the global healthcare sector, and how has your company fared during the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns?

The pandemic has highlighted many of the major issues that were already in the limelight.  Carers over worked, tired and undervalued and a lack of trust between employees and their employers. Since Covid began we have not had one member of staff nor client contract the disease other than 2 who contracted it from a stay in hospital. We nursed them at home and again the covid did not spread.

The reason for this is we always increase our PPE before winter, so we were already prepared, and the staff have PPE for their own use on days off which includes anti bacteria which clips to your clothes, so it is always available. I was quick to isolate staff members into hotels if there was any risk with staying at home and they were willing to do it one carer for 6 weeks in order to protect themselves and the clients and other team members.

Now that is loyalty. We also never recruit of take on new clients over the winter months, we create a sort of safety bubble around the whole company, and it works.

What is your opinion on the necessity for healthcare service providers to align their offerings with newer technological developments, especially when it comes to catering to changing patient preferences and needs?

I have to admit that I am a bit of a techy dinosaur! My staff liaison Laurel, who works closely with me would she is slowly dragging me into the 21st century. I was very much an old school everything on paper however, Laurel has shown me how much more responsive we can be to client changes without the paperwork headache if we use further technology.

We are going to be using Birdie alongside Care planner. Biride will allow us to make instant changes to client medication or care plans and the carers will receive it instantly in real time. This saves time and ensures the care is instantly appropriate for the client. I believe it will make us even safer than we already are.

In your opinion, what could be the future of the healthcare services sector post the pandemic? And how are you strategizing your company’s operations for that future?

I believe that if lessons are not learned then the clients are still going to suffer in the hands of mediocre underfunded care.  I believe with no covid occurrences we are working in the best way possible already.  I believe the company is on the correct course with the right strategy. Remain small so that delivery of service is always excellent. Only recruit the very best calibre of person.

As an established leader, what would be your advice to the budding entrepreneurs and enthusiasts aspiring to venture into the healthcare services?

Before you do anything decide what your PRINCIPLES ARE and have a solid vision in your mind what is you are wanting to create. Without knowing what your principles are you cannot shape your company and keep it on course to your vision. A principle is not really a proven principle until it costs you money and I can assure you mine have!

How do you envision on scaling your company’s operations in 2021?

The idea of scaling my business fills me with horror and I believe the team would be sorely disappointed because we recently made the decision to remain the size we are. My business vision was never about being big it was always about delivery of consistently high standard of care and to be an absolutely great place to work.