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Visiting Angels doubles its UK franchise network

Lynn & Chris James_Visiting Angels North Surrey

Home care provider Visiting Angels has doubled its network, welcoming eight new franchise owners in May.

Fresh from training, the new owners will open four branches across the country this year, after employing teams and finalising their registrations with the Care Quality Commission.

The news follows the announcement in February that Visiting Angels’ first UK franchise in Sheffield had recorded a £1 million turnover, two years after signing its first client.

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Among the new franchisees are Chris and Lynn James (pictured), who will open a new branch in North Surrey. Lynn has 25 years’ experience in health and social care, having previously been general manager and dementia lead at a home care company in Wimbledon.

She said: “My previous roles made it clear that people have very different needs and a one-size-fits-all approach simply doesn’t work. Caregivers are truly unsung heroes who need to be allowed to care – not just perform tasks. By paying a reasonable wage, offering rewards for loyal commitment, and allowing for longer, more efficient care visits, the carers at Visiting Angels feel more valued and enjoy delivering quality care. After many years, I am now in position to help provide a catalyst for change through our business in North Surrey.”

This approach also struck a chord with Paul Brooks, launching his franchise with his wife Briony in Northamptonshire, after he witnessed the extent to which the industry was stretched.  

“Over the course of four weeks, my mother was seen by 10 different carers – it just didn’t sit well with me or her. I had just gone through redundancy and, whilst looking for something new, I considered a care company to tackle standards of social care in my community. When I found Visiting Angels, their mission was a true reflection of what I hoped to achieve,” said Paul.

The new franchisees attended training in mid-May. Social distancing measures meant the franchisee training relied on experts delivering the content via online video conferencing. Ian Lintott, who is launching his business in Cambridgeshire with his wife Nicola, is used to this way of learning.

“I worked in a global organisation for 25 years,” Ian said, “So I‘d become accustomed to the majority of my working life being via digital platforms. Technology is changing the way we work and the fact that the training was adapted and delivered so well, in such a short time, was admirable to say the least. I didn’t feel like we missed out on the face-to-face interaction.”

The four offices have been busy getting themselves ready to launch, employing teams and finalising their registrations with the CQC. Andrew and Helen Lofts, leading a forward team, are launching in East Staffordshire and are looking forward to making a difference in their local area. 

Andrew said: “I’m excited about everything when it comes to growing my new business but the impact that I know it will have on my community is top of the list for me. I’m passionate about raising standards of care and I believe we can do that by giving our carers the opportunity to be the best they can be. Visiting Angels isn’t just a business, it’s a chance to give back.”

Visiting Angels was established in the US in 1998 and has since grown to over 600 franchisees operating in five countries.

Since its launch in the UK, the pilot franchise in Sheffield has been named the ‘Best International Franchise’ at Visiting Angels’ annual conference. It has also been nominated for three Great British Care Awards – success the new business owners are keen to replicate.

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Sarah Clarke

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