THE BIG INTERVIEW: Mumby’s Live-in Care director Ann Mumby

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In an exclusive interview with HCI, Ann Mumby shares her passion for raising awareness around live-in care as an alternative option to care homes.

Families are often forced into making hurried decisions about their loved one’s care after a fall, or when it comes apparent that they need care and support. But for the last 10 months, Mumby’s Live-in Care has been taking that stress away by allowing people to experience live-in care for a trial period, without any long-term commitment.

The aim is to encourage more people to experience live-in care in order to make an informed decision about their future. Here, Ann Mumby, director of the provider, discusses this scheme in detail and speaks about her passion for raising awareness around live-in care as an alternative option to care homes.

She also talks to HCI editor Sarah Clarke about her company’s recent rebrand and overcoming the current recruitment and retention challenges, and shares her thoughts on the new health and social care levy.

You established Mumby’s in 2002, but you worked as a nurse for several years before this. Could you tell me more about your career background?
Yes, I’m trained as a nurse and I spent most of my nursing career working in hospitals in Saudi Arabia. Then I came back to the UK and got married and had children. I met my husband Trevor in Saudi Arabia and we came back together. After having my children, I went back to work and did some agency nursing, which then progressed and I became nurse superintendent for a large care provider.

I did that for about 10 years, before the company got taken over by a corporate venture capitalist. That changed the whole ethos of what had been a family business, albeit a very large one. The ethos was something that I didn’t feel was customer focused and it became a corporation. I thought, well, I’ve been doing this for 10 years and I can do it a lot better on my own. So I started what became Mumby’s Home Care Support and then, consequently, Mumby’s Live-in Care.

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What inspired the decision to focus solely on live-in care?
That’s an easy one. I’m not knocking domiciliary care visits at all, but essentially I felt that for the type of care I wanted to provide to our clients, live-in care was the better, most cost-effective and most supportive option.

A family business: Ann, Joel and Trevor Mumby.

When did your husband Trevor and son Joel join the company, and what are their roles?
Trevor joined the company on day one. We set it up together and he’s been hugely supportive. His background is psychoanalysis, so he had a mental health background and worked with large groups, so we felt that, together, we could make a difference. We had the expertise between us to be able to provide the care necessary to keep people at home and prevent unnecessary hospital admissions.

Joel joined the company in 2015, after a couple of years in Australia. He came on board as carer coordinator, then care manager and he’s now commercial director. So he’s worked his way through the different roles in the business and has a great understanding of the global picture. Our daughter, Isabel, has since joined the company as well, so we are very much a family-led business. She is a care manager, but, again, she has worked in different roles in the business over the years.

Your husband is Mumby’s dementia trainer and co-director. Could you tell me more about his work in supporting people living with dementia and their families?
Yes, Trevor brings his wealth of specialist knowledge in dementia care and mental well-being to provide guidance and direction to our continually evolving live-in carer training programme that supports dementia care. Our training programme is evaluated and rated as ‘Outstanding’ by the CQC.

All of Mumby’s carer staff receive this outstanding care training on how to live with a client who suffers from dementia, and it is delivered by Trevor. This year we are delighted to have won HCA’s Mental Health and Dementia Care Expertise Award for our comprehensive carer training.

Trevor also provides on-to-one advice through home visits for both the carers and the families they are caring for. He offers guidance that is specifically tailored to each client’s home situation and the individual relationships between clients, their families and their carers. Trevor has received superb reviews from both our clients and care staff for his visits.

Trevor is a recognised psychoanalyst and counsellor, an author of a number of dementia support publications, and a trainer for multiple care agencies. He is also a senior associate member of The Royal Society of Medicine, associate member of the American Group Psychotherapy Association and a member of the British Association of Social Workers. His books have received excellent appraisals from professors in psychology, health and geriatrics, as well as therapists.

A lot of people are surprised when we speak to them about how they can try live-in care for a month or two.”

As a registered nurse, would you describe your service as nurse-led? If so, in what ways does this benefit your business and the people you support?
I would certainly describe it as nurse-led. I think we have, as a company, a better understanding of certain diseases. Also, our training verifier is somebody I’ve worked with for the last 15 years and she is also a nurse. So our training is nurse-led and that applies right across the company.

Could you tell us more about the sort of culture that exists at Mumby’s Live-in Care?
The culture within the company is extended to include our personalities. We work with a company called Rising Vibe. They are about developing the type of company with staff that supports and challenges leadership to have the conversations that matter, and to create and transform a high-performing culture that brings organisational goals and human needs together. So we’re empowering our staff to challenge us if they feel they need to because, of course, nobody has the right answers all of the time.

We are insightful, united, open and approachable, and we’re very proud and passionate about what we do, but to achieve that, everybody has to feel the same way. You almost have to live and breathe within the company that we are here to provide the best care to clients who are paying good money for a service they deserve.

Do you think that sets you apart from the growing number of other live-in care companies on the market?
Yes, I do. We are members of the Live-in Care Hub and we work very closely with other members of the hub to create a better understanding and awareness of live-in care in the wider market. As a company, Mumby’s firmly believes that it is a better care option.

Domiciliary care visits are all very fine, but they are short visits, which are spread throughout the day, and of course anything can happen when the carer isn’t there. Vulnerable clients of all ages can suffer isolation and that has been pronounced more and more during the pandemic. The clients who had live-in carers during the pandemic were certainly isolated in their own homes, but they were not alone.

Mumby’s provides services across the South of England.

You’ve recently launched a campaign to encourage more people to experience live-in care for a trial period. Could you talk about how this works?
We wanted people to experience the benefits of live-in care without the commitment, so we encourage people to have a trial period, with no ongoing commitment. If you’re going to go into a care home, it is more of a lasting decision and, generally, people are thinking about selling their homes to fund that. With our campaign, you can try live-in care for a fortnight, a month, or whatever you feel is suitable for you to review it. And then you can decide whether live-in care is for you or not. It certainly isn’t for everybody. But I feel that, and it is born out in statistics, that people are far better and safer in their own homes, so the message we’re really trying to get out is “try it” and see if it’s an option that suits you.

When did you launch the trial? And what feedback have you got so far?
We launched about 10 months ago. It’s been pretty good. A lot of people are surprised when we speak to them about how they can try live-in care for a month or two. They have it in their heads that a decision has to be made straight away. If someone has an elderly relative who is at crisis point they’re thinking “what on earth do I do?” It’s quite nice to be able to say “try this solution, and if it doesn’t work, there are others”. It gives everybody – daughters, sons and other relatives – time to sit back and draw breath.

It gives people choice and that’s hugely important for elderly and vulnerable people at any point in their life. We all love our choices. I’m going to have chicken or risotto for supper tonight – that’s a choice, but it’s magnified one hundred-fold when your mother is desperately ill in hospital and needs 24-hour care. You think “I’m going to have to pack up the house and mum has to go into a nursing home. Where does the furniture go? What happens to Freddie the dog? And how often can people visit?” There is a myriad of things that families are bombarded with. But if you are given the option to try live-in care, you can sit back as a family for a month or two and think rationally about the way forward. It buys time. I’m absolutely passionate about giving people that choice.

Many people think care homes are the only option, don’t they?
The media largely feed that narrative, I’m sorry to say. With the Live-in Care Hub we have tried to get our message out in different ways through the media, but it doesn’t seem to be seen as a viable solution, when it actual fact it is. It’s a difficult message to get across, but I feel the only thing we can do is to keep talking and raising awareness.

The recruitment crisis has been exacerbated by two problems – Brexit and the pandemic. Not on their own, but together.

You recently rebranded as Mumby’s Live-in Care after being previously named Mumby’s Home Care Support. How has that helped strengthen the brand?
We do what it says on the tin. We are a live-in care company and we’ve been rated ‘Outstanding’ by the CQC for our live-in care provision, so it just made sense that Mumby’s became Mumby’s Live-in Care.

Staff shortages is one of the biggest issues facing the care sector right now. How has this impacted your company?
Recruitment is probably at its most challenging, and that’s due to a combination of new immigration laws and the pandemic. We had a number of carers who, at the beginning of the pandemic, went home to their country of origin. In surveys we have done and in speaking with them over a period of time, they have said that they were only going to work here for another couple of years anyway, they’ve been back in my country for 18 months and so they have decided not to come back.

That’s one thing, pre-pandemic, that we felt probably wouldn’t affect us too much because all of our carers had the status they required to stay and work in the UK. We thought it would be okay, and indeed it has been because we’ve been able to cover all of our clients throughout the pandemic, but recruiting staff into live-in care is an issue now. Again, this has been exacerbated by two problems – Brexit and the pandemic. Not on their own, but together.

How can the sector start to overcome this challenge?
You have to launch campaigns and you have to try different ways of attracting people to make that phone call and have that discussion about what live-in care is, what breaks they have and how many weeks they would be working. From an employment point of a view, it’s an ideal situation for over 50s, for example, who may want to work for a few more years and want to give something back to their communities.

What did you make of the recent announcement from Boris Johnson about the new health and social care levy?
I personally don’t have a problem with it at all. We’re going to, as a country, have to provide for our future, to care for our elderly and vulnerable and make provision for that future and there has to be a way forward. It’s about supporting other people around you and looking at a bigger picture, but I’m sure it’s difficult for some.

Mumby’s is passionate about promoting the benefits of live-in care.

Okay, but is the £5.4 billion every three years going to be enough when the Health and Social Care Select Committee and other organisations are saying we need £7 billion every year to prevent market collapse?
Well, if you watch the interviews given recently by Dr Jane Townson from the Homecare Association, she put it very succinctly. There is a crisis and the focus on the NHS instead of social care is the wrong way to go because if you support care in the community you’re going to reduce hospital admissions and the cost of hospital beds. So, without a shadow of a doubt, more money should go into health and social care in the community and different technology solutions to prevent admission and people getting to
crisis point.

At Mumby’s we’re working very closely with artificial intelligence to monitor people in their own homes and we want to build on that. We’ve been trialling that for the last year. There has been a lot of pressure on GP practices recently and if there’s any way that we can alleviate that then we will.

What other projects are you working on at the moment and what are your plans for the next two to three years?
We’re committed to raising awareness around live-in care and we’re working with the Live-in Care Hub to do that. We need to talk more about the fact that people see live-in care as a very expensive solution to their crisis, but in actual fact it’s more cost effective than going into a nursing home, plus you get to stay your own home. On top of that, we want to extend the Mumby’s Live-in Care brand and grow the business to provide more care to more clients in their own home.

Does that mean you would you consider expanding into more areas across the UK?
At the moment we cover the South of England, more or less, and anywhere that is within a two-hour reach of our office. But, the pandemic has changed the way we work – we can work remotely now. Carers are using iPads to chat with the office team more and more, so this opens up everyone’s horizons.

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Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke