Owners of private care provider in Stevenage and North Herts feel job is hugely rewarding despite challenges facing sector

Dave and Karen Marsh.

Dave and Karen Marsh. - Credit: Archant

The owners of a private care provider have spoken of their passion for a profession which they believe is hugely rewarding, despite the challenges facing a neglected sector.

Caring in action.

Caring in action. - Credit: Archant

Since October, Dave and Karen Marsh – joint owners of the Stevenage and North Herts branch of Home Instead – have been in and out of their Letchworth base, spreading the word to make sure as many people as possible know about the service they’re so passionate about.

Home Instead – which has 171 branches throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland – offers clients non-medical home help, ranging from meal preparation and gardening to taking out the rubbish.

As well as a commitment to customer service – something which Dave feels is ingrained in him after years working in the industry in the United States – the team take pride in giving people a choice when it comes to care.

“Paying for private care is not as much of dirty word as it used to be,” said Dave.

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“Some people think it should all be free, but we believe people should have choices.

“My mum, my sister and my sister-in-law have all been involved in the nursing industry and they called me a heretic when I said I was getting involved in the world of private care.

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“There is a profound difference in the quality of time that we can give to people.”

Dave – who has been involved in the care sector for the past 12 years – believes that the industry has turned a corner since the Francis report into the failings at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust in 2013.

He said: “The Care Quality Commission has been over the coals in the past 10 years but they are getting a lot tougher since the Francis enquiry and are starting to do a terrific job.

“The big challenge we face in the industry is to find more care givers, as there is no shortage of people who need care.

“It is a Cinderella industry which doesn’t perhaps attract the brightest leaders.

“But we want people with a passion for customer service who want to make a difference.”

The recruitment process for Home Instead is rigorous, with an X-Factor style assessment process, but Dave believes the rewards of the job are unique.

“It is the most rewarding professions that you could ever do,” he said.

“You can learn from these people.

“I like to think that caring for the elderly is not a career but a vocation. It is such a vital role.

“We like to ‘encourage and enable’ people to be independent.

“The elderly are a vulnerable group to be taken advantage of.

“They are financially a target as they accumulate wealth and are sitting on a property.

“For instance, in Letchworth the demographic is disproportionately elderly and there can be a lot of loneliness or isolation.

“Imagine profoundly improving someone’s life so that they can get out of bed again, or walk confidently again or cut their food up themselves after coming out of hospital.

“Care is not rocket science, but the rewards are there to see.”

The Home Instead team have been welcomed with open arms in North Herts, and both Karen and Dave have been pleasantly surprised with the community spirit within the towns.

“There is so much for elderly people to do in places like Letchworth, Hitchin and Stevenage – it is amazing,” Dave said.

“There are dementia clubs and lots of societies for people to join.

“I have found a huge sense of community on my 500 visits to meet people throughout North Herts.

“I can count on one hand the amount of gruff responses. Everyone has been warm and welcoming with us.”

Karen, who works with her husband Dave and care manager Lorraine Massey at the Fifth Avenue office, said: “We want truly caring individuals to work for us and we are finding that the best caregivers love working in our team because – with an average visit lasting two hours – they have the chance to build quality relationships with their clients.

“The acid test when we hire people is that we only recruit those who we would want caring for our own families.”

In the North Herts area, Home Instead’s hourly rate for care in your own home ranges from about £15 to £25 per hour, but rates vary depending on the package, time of day and nature of care.

If you would to find out more about Home Instead you can call 01462 600462.

For more about the entire Home Instead network visit www.homeinstead.co.uk.

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