Innovation in social care seems to offer loads of clichés but nothing tangible, rather a buzzword for re-inventing the wheel. Innovation for me is more about adjusting a mindset to embrace the possibility of a different perspective leading to different actions.
I see myself very lucky in being able to do that. Having come from a sales and marketing background in the telecoms industry I don’t have some of the deep rooted perspectives or thoughts about what a care home should be like or how it should be managed.
Care isn’t about the company it’s about the people cared for. Forever mindful of this I wanted to create a care journey for individuals that I myself would be happy to consider.
Fulfilling the vision hasn’t always gone to plan. Post pandemic I fully admit I was trying to do everything. With four residential care homes it was just impossible but at the time I didn’t realise, not until the pandemic hit.
The pandemic taught me a very valuable lesson, that I can’t do it all on my own!
We really struggled during covid, as many care operators did. It wasn’t just the strain on the business it was the desperate feeling of being helpless, not being able to fix it, seeing colleagues emotionally at their worst and good friends we care for unable to see their families. We were on emergency autopilot like pandemic zombies.
One thing we didn’t do during the pandemic was panic or make knee-jerk business decisions. We didn’t consolidate the business or pare back operations; we kept all our staff, and maintained a ‘business as usual’ approach knowing that one day it would all be over.
More important, I handed responsibility over to the experts. If there is one thing I have learnt, always get an expert to do an expert job rather than trying to do it yourself, it really pays dividends in the end.
I made critical appointments in three main functions, finance, operations and marketing. Having experts in these roles has helped me to deliver and build on my vision of developing our care journey. Maybe that in itself is unique to Belmont Healthcare.
I do know we stand out in ethos. We are ‘one’ team and all in the same boat. I don’t present myself as a 3-piece suit wearing managing director, I’m there and present just like everyone else. I’ve worked in industries where the ‘them and us’ culture destroys morale and businesses, for Belmont Healthcare we’re all in it together 100% and I am very proud of that.
My whole ethos about developing the Belmont Healthcare care journey is purely to develop choice for people. I don’t want to create ‘vanilla’ care homes I want to develop a multi-facetted care journey in its truest form where care isn’t a last resort. I want someone with capacity to say to themselves ‘I want that’, to manage life as best as possible in their own home, perhaps with our help, until they are ready to move into residential care.
Until we get people to think differently about care and care homes we will never get to where we want to as a sector. It really is all about getting people to engage with care services in a different way.
I have always focused on the long-term vision. Even when it seemed foolhardy I always believed we would get to that next point. The pandemic may have stalled business development but it also enabled me to reassess. We now have a really solid foundation to grow and develop our care journey and we are all really looking forward to it.