We have continued to provide high-quality homecare to our customers throughout the lockdown period. All our carers have all been trained in Coronavirus infection control and our operations policies and procedures are continually reviewed to deliver the latest Government advice. The safety and well-being of our customers and carers is always our top priority.
For latest guidance, information and updates on the Coronavirus visit GOV.UK Public Health England.

A Filing Cabinet and a New Chair

There are some business milestones they never teach you on a management course. I don’t recall any lecturer saying how the purchase of a filing cabinet and a new chair requires a reflection on the progress of the business.

But the new filing cabinet spoke to me today and said “Boy, do we desperately need more space for the information on the growing number of customers and staff we now have.”

So, why do we need more filing capacity? Because it appears that our past and present customers are telling others about the quality of the care we’re providing and our services.

And how are we achieving this reputation? Well, the only answer is to be found in the carers we employ and what they do. We make huge promises in our Care Plans when we commit to care for someone, but that’s all they are “promises” until we actually start to deliver. Our carers have to adjust to a different elderly person’s home environment in every call. There are general standards that we deploy but they have to adjust to a different care regime, different preferences with or without medication, with or without mental or physical capacity, in each call — and we recognise this. We have always acted upon a belief that the only way to look after our customers is through looking after our staff, by paying the best in the area, by nurturing their career ambitions and by trying to develop them as best we can. It didn’t take me too much strategic analysis to see that our staff are the reason why the business needs more filing space and is growing rapidly across Maidenhead, Windsor and Ascot!

Oh, and the new chair? Well, that was in homage to Zig Ziglar and his comment that “You don’t build a business. You build people and then people build the business.” Our success is Tracy’s. She controls the standards and the systems within which our carers operate, and she deserves a new chair … even if there was another two years left in her old one!

Paul Dunn-Sims

5 resolutions for Halcyon Home Care in 2014

The end of one year and start of another are frantically busy times in home care. Not only do many families ask us to keep a caring eye on relatives while they are away or distracted by the mountain of tasks that this time of year always entails, but the needs for provision of social care are continuous. As we settle back into some semblance of normality, we now have time to reflect on what we want, and what we intend, for 2014.

  1. This year we will prove that we are up for the Dementia Challenge launched last year. We have already appointed a Dementia Champion, and will be continually and carefully redesigning and promoting our dementia services. We will look to meet more than simply the basic care needs of those with dementia, but also look to support them holistically and improve their quality of living every day.
  2. We will be watching the progress of the Care Bill as it moves through the legislative process, and are resolved to be vocal – giving credit where credit is due, but not being afraid to challenge areas and aspects of debate which we feel are not hitting the spot.
  3. In a similar vein, we will be proactive in sharing the great stories and examples of care excellence which are the mark of our agency. It isn’t simply to market ourselves but is, much more importantly, to counter the poisonous impact of negative elderly care stories which the media love, but which do such a disservice to our wonderful carers and to other people like us who strive to be different. Shine a light on bad practice by all means – but don’t assume all carers are the same.
  4. Continue to partner positively and proactively with the Local Authority, as we work together to try to meet more of the growing needs for elderly care among the aging populations in Maidenhead, Windsor and Ascot. As a company we’ll be increasing the number of Halcyon-trained care staff and ensuring that they live and breathe our care philosophy of delivering quality care with respect, and continuity.
  5. Lastly, we plan on having fun – with both our team and our customers. A little lightness can go a long way to helping our clients deal with what can sometimes be a tough decision to bring in a helping hand — and to help our carers cope in what is a very demanding job. Plus – it keeps us sane in the office, as we juggle an ever increasing number of care hours!

We’re looking forward to a great 2014.
Happy New Year to all, from the Halcyon Home Care team.


Let’s End Flying Care Visits that Don’t Enable Carers to Provide Care

“Flying care visits” hit the news on Monday with a report that 60% of councils commission care packages of 15 minutes and in one instance a local authority reported that 84% of the care arranged was in 15 minute calls.

stopwatchMedia coverage, while often referencing squeezed Government funding, often also suggested by implication that care workers and care agencies were complicit in this situation.  I want to clarify here that it is the Local Authorities who commission and mandate the care that is to be delivered.  The public officials making these unpopular decisions about care are paid through our taxes, and the public needs to make their dissatisfaction with this felt, lest we risk a growing cultural acceptance that this norm of tightly timed, too-short care visiting is acceptable. It is not.

At Halcyon Home Care we don’t accept 15 minute personal care call commissions. We don’t believe “flying care visits” are reasonable, practical or fair to staff or customers. Above all else, we believe that each care package should be personal and tailored to the needs of the individual, and cannot be purchased in the same way as other types of council ‘bulk’ purchases.  There is little in the way of standardised needs or similarities in the home environment of the care recipient, both of which affect the time and the way we approach designing a care package.

The problem is often a complete mismatch of expectation versus reality. For example, it is wholly unreasonable to expect the following in a 15 minute visit: To arrive at a property, read the notes from the previous visit (no carer can assume everything is the same since their last visit), say hello, how are you etc., help someone physically get up and out of bed, possibly to shuffle with a frame to the bathroom, assist with a full strip-down wash (a bath being completely out of the question on a 15 minute care package), to get dressed, tidy the bedcovers, assist downstairs , then write up notes so that emergency services/doctor/next carer can see what the situation was at the time of the visit … and yes, I haven’t even included any provision for making breakfast!

For many involved in care, the real scandal is not actually in the pressure to complete the tasks in 15 minutes but the way the care has to be delivered under such constraints. For many recipients of care the tasks are certainly important but it is the way they are treated that has the most impact on their well-being. Being rushed and harassed along rather than respected as an individual and treated according to their specific needs is not a dignified or satisfactory experience.

I understand the Local Authorities are under pressure to deliver services under considerable cost pressures. As they mainly commission care services on a time-served basis, this leaves them with only one way to save costs: by cutting the length of calls. However, I know that buying on a time basis is not the only way to purchase care and I call on Local Authorities to consider more innovative approaches including “gain-sharing” contracts (where a fixed price is agreed and the provider manages with any savings on the price shared), “open-book/cost plus” arrangements where the expertise and quality is purchased and valued. I’m sure there are many other models that purchasing experts could propose.

However, whatever needs to happen must happen urgently. As a care industry, it is incumbent on us to reject any growing assumption that 15 minute calls are the acceptable, preeminent solution in commissioning care at home, or one that we, as home care providers, support or are responsible for.