In September 2015, with the kids safely dropped off at school Lisa (who lives in Hitchin) was starting to wonder how she might use her new-found window of time. It’s a typical question; ‘I’d like to do some work for my sense of sanity, self and for a bit of cash but it has to fit-in with the family and it has to be meaningful, so who’s going to employ me in this market?
As luck, would have it Dave Marsh from Home Instead had recently popped into Stevenage Job Centre to explain to the Job Coaches just how Home Instead are recruiting Befrienders and Companions to support the elderly in their own homes locally.
Dave said; “Most of the people who work with us are doing this because they have acquired great skills from informally supporting family members young and old, with confidence and in encouraging them to look after themselves. These are exactly the skills we need for many of the elderly in our community. It’s a sad fact that 40% of older people who opt to go into a Care Homes do so simply because of loneliness and a loss of confidence. I think that’s such a social shame. If we can connect the elderly with Friends and Companions locally we can do so much to enable their independence, encourage their wellness and allow them to stay Home Instead …. hence our name!”.
For Lisa, the job was worth exploring. She said; “Most employees need you to work standard office hours and that’s not flexible enough for me. I think it was the idea of seeing the same person and being able to spend quality time with them that appealed”. Home Instead operate a strict policy of setting calls at a minimum time of one hour.
Dave says; “In the industry we often come across people who are being rushed between calls and sometimes only being allowed to spend 10 minutes with the elderly it just seems cruel; putting people together and then giving them no time at all to chat which is often all that is needed – we just won’t even attempt to support someone in less than an hour of time”. “It wouldn’t be fair to our clients and it wouldn’t be fair to our Caring Companions” .
Lisa said ; “ I think the elderly have such brilliant life stories, it’s fascinating when get to learn about times gone by. Home Instead are able to flexible enough to allow me do manage the school pick up. I see three clients now, all are very different but they are all precious to me and I feel honoured to help them, to build their confidence and just lend an ear. If I’m honest, it’s not really like work, it’s like I just go along to spend an hour with my friend. People said I would get rushed off my feet, but I have never felt rushed, Home Instead really encourage us to spend time and gave us training on how to open up great conversations with people”.
Dave says: “People ask me what qualifications are needed to do this work, the honest answer is you don’t need any but you absolutely do need to be genuinely interested in other people and the real acid test is whether I’d trust you to visit my own mum. If I can’t see you with my mum then I could never let you work with us no matter what your qualifications. This is a very simple, important and human thing we are doing, you can’t measure if someone is going to really care by just tick boxes and certificates.. I goes much deeper than that”
Lisa Says: I have just the hours I need now. Home Instead took me round to introduced me as a potential befriender to my clients before we both agreed to do it. I met three clients one by one over a month or so. It was a bit like speed dating, we both had the chance to say whether we wanted to see each other again after a cup of tea together. I think it’s so important to have something in common with the client and vice versa. Home Instead operate a policy of paying well above the minimum wage of £7.20 to all of their CAREGivers. With an hourly rate of £9.00 an hour they make no excuse for taking their time to match up CAREGiver with Clients. If they have not got a match that suits the CAREGivers and The Client equally there is no work and no pay. That said, there is no shortage of demand for the Home Instead way of doing things. Dave says, “the issue is in finding people who I would trust with my own family. Once I find them they get snapped up by Clients looking for a bit of support. If they drive (and many of our CAREGivers don’t), it’s really very quick to get great introductions and wonderful relationships started”.
Since we started the business less than a year ago we have found meaningful flexible work for so many wonderful people, it’s a shame they have struggled to find work in the ruthless world of hard commerce, but hey, their loss our gain! We get a huge kick in providing a safe place to work that really cares and that enables older people in our community to keep well and stay at Home Instead of going into a care home.