Live-in Care and how to develop a sense of community… from afar!
Like many companies around the globe, the Access Care office team sit down together (admittedly, with freshly brewed, steaming hot coffee) every Monday morning to reflect on the week before and discuss our week ahead. Not surprisingly we talk all things ‘care’; from what the news is reporting regarding our industry, to which of our clients have birthday’s this week that we want to send a token gift to.
The meetings can sometimes last a few hours as we chew the ‘care-cud;’ but none more so than when I walk in with a new idea! I am aware that my lightbulb moments can strike fear in to the heart of my wonderful team as they create more work for them when already super busy doing what we do. My ideas push the boundaries of what Access Care ‘should’ do as a minimum, and what I want Access Care to ‘be.’ I firmly believe the agency should aim high and be the very best that we can be. I don’t want to run the agency that just introduces the perfect care worker (although that is very important), I want to be the agency that does this but that also works hard to build a sense of community between all our stakeholders; whether they be our wonderful live-in care workers, valued clients, their families or the office team. One particular weekend I pondered the notion of inclusion and wanted to find a way to bring about a sense of community to people that live across the UK and beyond – challenge on!
I’d love an annual event; I’m a party planner through and through so the idea of organising a garden tea for everyone would fuel my event planning fire, but in reality people are not going to travel for hours for a cuppa, nor are many of our clients physically able to. So, the questions become – how can people feel ‘involved’ in a community which they may never see, let alone meet? How can care agencies and care businesses like Access Care create a sense of community from afar?
We often hear of the big charities doing their wonderful fund-raising through coffee mornings and fun runs, and they do a marvellous job. It occurred to me that live-in care businesses such as ours that have clients nationwide are similar in make-up (although be it a fraction of the size). We are trying to engender a sense of togetherness for people that we are not in direct contact with, or often even reachable by car in a day! The big charities provide ‘Joe Public’ with the opportunity to have fun whilst getting involved and doing ‘his’ bit for society; and let’s be honest they vast majority of us could probably do more.
After mulling over various ideas, I found myself focussing on just one - ‘The Big Live-in Care Tea Party.’ The idea was simple – we would use social media to create the sense of community we were striving for, and in so doing be able to offer our stakeholders a chance to ‘get involved’ whilst having a bit of fun at home. The Queen’s 90th Birthday celebrations provided us with the perfect invitation. In brief we sent all our clients and their relatives a ‘party pack’ with flags, crowns and a couple of quintessentially British tea recipes and in return asked them to send in a picture of them having a fun tea party for us all to see and share on our social media pages. We asked for people to use the #tag #liveincare #Queens90th
Access Care is a member of the Live-in Care Hub, a group of ‘live-in care’ agencies who are technically competitors, but have come together with an aim of informing the public that live-in care is a viable and cost-effective option for those that wish to remain living at home but need full-time support to do so. During one of our meetings I mentioned the idea of the ‘Big Live-in Care Tea Party’ and it was so well received I thought let’s try and go big and give not just the Access Care community a way to come together, but invite all the care agencies in the UK to join in too!
Okay, so I’m an ideas girl, I always have big ideas, dreams and aspirations, and some (well many actually) don’t come to fruition but this one actually had some legs. In fact, it not only stood on those legs but also started to walk and then even run a little. The UKHCA (United Kingdom Homecare Association) of which we are a member were great and I’d like to thank them for promoting the idea to all their members.
People were able to participate in their own tea parties whenever they wished but most joined the office gang here on Friday the 20th of June. We were so excited and pleased to see the pictures begin to roll in (you can see our main album by CLICKING HERE) and we were absolutely delighted to see the happiness on the faces of our clients and their care workers. Other care agencies, friends of ours and even a smattering of the canine contingent all donned their union jack paraphernalia and best smiles for the camera! Here's some of the fun...
In summation, I think there must be many ways in which homecare agencies could involve their individual communities even if they live spread across the UK or beyond; we just have to think a little more outside the box. So here’s to next years ‘Big Live-in care tea Party’ and the hope that all care agencies could unite to spread a little happiness in the social care and homecare industries.