Home care software supplier CarePlanner has been working with Eidyn Care for almost three years. During this time, the family-run care provider has won a clutch of awards and supported dozens of clients to live with dignity and respect in the comfort of their own homes, as they approach the end of their lives.
Lorcán Murray, marketing executive at CarePlanner, spoke with operations manager Andrew McLennan, who runs the Edinburgh-based service with his wife and registered manager Rebecca, about what make the business tick and what the future holds for the agency.
“Rebecca and I are very ethical…we always recruit on values rather than just going, ‘you’ve got a good CV’,” says McLennan.
“We look at their values to see if they’re empathetic and caring. It’s one of the reasons I think why we’re different from a lot of the other care companies, we’re getting the right people in.”
Recruitment and Training
Eidyn Care approaches hiring staff with the same purpose and care as it does when managing the care of its clients. It has a strict screen process that consists of a telephone screening, face-to-face interview, training screening and on-the-job screening.
“Ninety per cent of recruits pass their probation because we have got such a strict screening process,” McLennan explains. “We try to whittle it down so that we get folks who are really good people.”
The organisation prides itself on the thorough training and support provided to carers during their six-month probation.
“Because it’s lone working, we try and have it so they are not lone workers. We have this structure where they have support from everybody,” McLennan explains.
“And everybody includes Rebecca, the registered manager; the care team leads, as well as a mentor and a trainer.”
Explaining what makes a good team lead, McLennan says: “They are empowered and experienced people who are good at man-management. Their responsibilities are to make sure they have their shadow shifts, the training they require and their mentoring as well.”
The role of the mentor is also crucial. “We try to have mentors meet new carers out in the field,” McLennan adds.
“Care team leads try to meet them in the first month and they are constantly in contact with them so they’re not left isolated. Their mentor looks after them for the next three to six months and carry out one-month, three-month, and sixth-month reviews.”
The benefits of such an involved approach are apparent in both the company’s retention rate and the atmosphere of its office.
During our visit, there was a supervisors’ meeting, led by Rebecca. Everyone seemed energised and engaged.
Eidyn Care maintains an active dialogue with its staff, an empowered infrastructure with its care team leads, and a rewards scheme to ensure that staff feel valued and supported.
Maintaining highly-skilled staff is about more than free coffee and cinema tickets; it’s about making them feel valued and respected.
“Our motto is: if you look after your staff, the staff will look after your clients,” says McLennan.
When delivering palliative care, this responsibility can take on a deeper dimension.
McLennan explains: “Whenever someone goes through the death of a client, we do what we can to be there for our staff.
“Normally, Rebecca will go to our carer, check in on them and take their shifts off the rota for the next day or two, until they feel happy and comfortable going back to work. It’s a really tough, tough thing. You’re expecting it, but it’s never easy.”
By supporting and empowering its staff, Eidyn Care has developed a reputation for excellence, and a trophy cabinet to reflect it.
“Maybe this is one of the reasons we are award-winning, because we’re going above and beyond. We’re not just going in there and giving someone a cup of tea: we’re going in there and providing care,” says McLennan.
“We are that intermediary between the district nurse and the hospital, and we’re trying to stop people from going into the hospital unnecessarily.”
As all care managers know, awards and ‘outstanding’ ratings are not solely achieved by delivering high-quality care.
You also have to keep records of your actions as proof for the regulator. Eidyn Care has been digital from the start, and it was using CarePlanner when its first inspection came around.
“I think that’s why [the Scottish Care Inspectorate] gave us an ‘Excellent’ ratings the first time they came – the fact we could just pull a record on anything from training to the hours a carer has worked. They were really impressed with that,” says McLennan.
“Then we got a new care inspector who came in since we implemented the [EveryLife] PASS System, and she was really impressed with all the care plans and how we can change them on a minute-to-minute basis to say, ‘okay give this guy meds sooner’, or whatever it is they need.”
What the Future Holds
After seeing so much success in its first two years, one can’t help but wonder what the future holds for Eidyn Care.
McLennan has clear criteria. “I think when it’s not personable – when Rebecca doesn’t know the client – I think that’s when you want to stop. I’d like to go into a couple of other cities and basically become a champion of palliative across Scotland,” he says.
“I want us to become experts in palliative care. We can set up another Eidyn Care in Sterling, or Perth, or Glasgow that does exactly the same. That is, looking after people that have the really complex care needs. but don’t have a company that is able to support them. But we won’t cut corners to take on extra work.”
It’s hard to imagine that Scotland would fail to benefit from an expansion of Eidyn Care and its approach to palliative care.
It is one of the most emotionally demanding callings imaginable. The ability to provide light to people in their final moments is rare, and a place that can cultivate and shape that ability is even rarer.
Eidyn Care is one such rarity. It’s a place where professional skill and personal touch are synonymous.