Committed to providing high-quality care services since 1986
Nightingales, which operates in London and the South East, grew from two residential homes in 1986 to an additional home care service which serves 100 clients. Nightingales Home Care division celebrated 25 years in operation this year. Here, founder Sarah Bruce and Head of Home Care Donna Roch explain how the care provider has gone from strength to strength thanks to an ethos of prioritising residents and providing high-quality staff…
Nightingales care services Q&A
Tell us about the history of Nightingales' care services…
Nightingales was founded by Nick & Sarah Bruce in 1986 providing private residential care at our two private homes, firstly in Bromley and then also in Reigate. Our mission was to provide the kind of care that we would give to our own parents. It seemed natural to extend that experience in providing home care, first in the Bromley area expanding through Croydon to the Reigate area.
How many staff are at Nightingales now, and how many people do you care for in their own homes?
Across both homes and the home care service, we have about 100 staff. Not all of these are full-time and we provide flexible working arrangements. We are also transitioning to 50% employee-ownership, so whoever you speak to at Nightingales, you will be speaking to someone who thinks like an owner. Further to this, 95% of our management team has been promoted from within the company. We currently support about 100 home care clients with a variety of care needs.
The ageing population means care has changed a lot in recent years – how do you find people’s needs are changing over time and how have Nightingales addressed this?
With 12 million adults in the UK aged 65+ and around 1.6 million aged over 75, almost without exception the elderly want to stay living independently in their own homes for as long as possible. The vast majority of those aged 80+ live alone with small social networks.
What’s important from a care perspective is that we are flexible and able to respond to the changing needs of our clients over time; we’re certainly seeing an increase in demand for live-in care.
On-going training is absolutely crucial for our carers so that they are able to confidently and competently support clients whose needs become increasingly complex both physically and mentally. All our carers have been trained extensively in dealing with dementia for example.
The staff turnover rate is often a problem for care providers – why do you think employees stay for longer at Nightingales?
There is a very real career path within Nightingales and opportunities across all the divisions. Our 10-Year Lunch Club which is an annual event and celebration of all those who have 10 years’ service has almost 20 members now, with the longest-serving about to celebrate 30 years with the company.
Yes, the industry has a reputation for staff churn, but we are a value-driven company, and our staff like working to the high standards that comes from that. Our culture is one of professional and personal development supporting people in their career aspirations, I think our team recognises it’s something quite special that we have created here.
Three years ago we adopted an Employee Ownership business model to better reflect that culture. Being part of Nightingales is so much more than a job, passion and commitment runs through all that we do and we understand that caring for the elderly is both a massive responsibility but also a huge privilege.
How does Nightingales ensure CQC standards are met?
Our carers receive possibly the most comprehensive training in our industry. They go through a thorough induction process, completing the nationally recognised Care Certificate course, and then enter our ongoing training programme. This typically involves them completing one assessed training module per month plus any additional training that is necessary. They will also be entered into NVQ training as well as receiving an annual appraisal and quarterly supervision sessions.
However, it is our staff who really make our training special by choosing additional subjects each year which they feel will make the most difference to our clients. Each course typically involves them studying in their own time over a period of 12 weeks, which underlines just how engaged they are with everything the company is about.
As an independent healthcare provider, what do you think policymakers could do to help people live in their own homes for longer?
We are fortunate in that we only care for privately-funded clients, but the key issue to support people in their own homes is funding. At a certain needs point, residential funding becomes cheaper, and where limited state funds have to be rationed between everyone in need of care, difficult choices have to be made. Increasing funding to match need would therefore be the best thing that can be done.
What’s in store for the future at Nightingales?
Nightingales is committed to providing the same high quality of care it has always done. One of our mantras is to always do the right thing, and then work out how we will pay for it. There is always a way, but by putting the focus on the clients’ needs means the best decision for them is always made.
We are also continuing to expand. With our transition to employee ownership, the appetite to grow the company in a sustainable way has increased, and we are therefore actively expanding into new home care areas, and looking to buy an additional home. We feel our approach to care is unique in the industry, with a total focus on quality of care and activities, and keeping our homes small and personal, with the highest quality of décor. We even make sure our residents continue to enjoy good-quality wine and other drinks. After all, they want to continue enjoying their lives, and we’re determined to make sure they do!
For more information please visit nightingales.co.uk