Maddy’s story

How love2care became outstanding

Hi I’m Maddy, one of the founders of love2care.

The business was established by myself and my business partner David.  Prior to love2care, he was my mentor and line manager for over 5 years.  During our time together we worked for some great and not so great companies.  We have learnt how important it is to work for a company that has the same values as ourselves.

As a result of working for a company that didn’t have our values and wasn’t providing outstanding care, we felt compelled to do it ourselves.  We realised that it was no good blaming others for providing poor quality care, so we quit our jobs and risked our only savings to establish love2care.

David told me that he remembers the moment we made the decision.

We were sitting by the side of a river contemplating what to do, but at the time it just felt right, so we followed our hearts and never looked back. At the time I realised that I needed to strip back the red tape, and be in a position to make a difference for our community. It wasn’t just that, I needed a job that fulfilled me as a person.

At the start of our journey we were fortunate to work closely with Wellbeing Teams, who helped shape our initial service. We started with the undertaking to follow the Buurtzorg Model of self managed teams, however as the service nearly collapsed due to our funding nearly running out, we decided to go it alone. It was a tough time both financially and personally as we had risked everything to do this.

The service kept some of the parts of that way of working as well as incorporating some elements of traditional home care, so we ended up creating a type of hybrid service that is hard to describe in words. I think this is what makes us quite unique – we do not operate like a typical domiciliary care agency, nor do we work as a self managed team – we did it our way, working closely with our wellbeing workers and the people we support.

I have been frequently asked what makes Love To Care different as an organisation.

I have to pause for a short while when I answer this question because in the grand scheme of things, we are a home care agency, providing care services to people in their own homes. We are a provider, regulated by the Care Quality Commission (rated ‘Outstanding’ at both inspections may I add :-), we provide support with bathing, showering, medication support, shopping, meal preparation and a whole lot more.

But we are so much more than that!

I almost can’t describe it, it is kind of a feeling. You have to see it, feel it and then believe it. But I am going to try and give you a small sense of who we are.

Firstly, I’m proud to say that Love To Care is a family, many of us have been in care for a long long time, and we have seen and worked in other settings.

And we have learnt from those settings.  For people who have distant family members, being a part of a team who love and trust one another is everything.  Sometimes, the ‘family’ may bicker or have disputes over different opinions, however each person we love and care for is always at our centre.  So whilst we may have different opinions, we always seem to find the right solution – sometimes compromise!

I am going to give you some examples of recent situations about people and wellbeing workers who have needed us.  Whilst this is not a promise that we may be able to act in the same way each time, it’s a promise that we work with compassion and love, plus if we can make a difference, you bet we will do everything we can.

I want to say though – that the way we react is natural, it’s not to satisfy our regulators – whilst we do everything to make sure we are compliant, it is always from the heart and for the right reasons.

Where do I start?

I am bound to miss something out, but bear with me.  I’m writing this as I fly back from Cyprus after a 3 day break, and our flight has been delayed thanks to Storm Dennis!

While in Cyprus I couldn’t resist but had a quick look at our team’s internal communication system to see what is happening.  Told you I love work!  I noticed in one of our ladies channels, she had received some really sad news.  I couldn’t let go of it, so I tried calling her, but no answer.  I just wanted her to know that I was thinking of her, and that she had my well wishes. As I couldn’t get through, I didn’t want her to panic so I sent her a message – just reassuring her I would call when I was back and that I was thinking of her.

The day before my holiday, another one of our ladies fell really poorly.  It was heartbreaking to see, and the team were finding it hard.  Supporting someone for almost three years and seeing them in front of you drastically change is hard.

We needed to act quickly in order to make her as comfortable as we could.  She had no family locally so I was speaking to relatives 13 hours away, staff were visiting outside of their working hours to sit with her, so she wasn’t alone.  We were going around to all different pharmacies collecting prescriptions, phoning local friends, asking the local Vicar to visit, reading chapters of her favourite book to her, asking healthcare professionals to visit, going out to the shops to get whatever was needed and if we couldn’t source it in one place, we would go to another. It was all hands on deck, to ensure she and the team had everything and every bit of information needed. The sense of family in that scenario is enough to bring tears down your cheeks. It certainly did for me.

In December one of our lovely ladies who works for us, had an operation which meant she wasn’t able to work for approximately 6 weeks. We provided care to her everyday when her family member wasn’t there to support. I can assure you this wasn’t charged. You’ll be delighted to know she’s now fully recovered and back to work!

A big passion of mine is to share our learning and everyday experiences with other providers and managers, so creating a space where people don’t feel in competition with each other.

That’s why I have taken the opportunity locally to coordinate and facilitate our local care managers network group where every quarter over 100 local managers come together to share learning and outstanding practice. For me, this is something I love – because seeing people in a room, talking, being outside of their comfort zones, showing courage to change and improve, which provides me with assurance that we all want better services.

Speaking of better services, I am committed to improving our local services. The big picture would be to improve services at a national level, but a girl has to walk before she can run!

love2care is an amazing organisation, full of people who love what they do, but also know we can do better. Sometimes, unfortunately we are held back by “the system” and by budgets, and what we call “the man”. And I want to get the “man’s” attention, challenge the “man” and his thinking and ask him to have a little faith in a group of caring, ambitious people who want to pilot new ways of working. Starting with Individual Service Funds, and also allowing front line care staff to have delegated duties to individual personalised support planning, which is sometimes known as Independent Support Brokerage.

During the journey we have received lots of calls for help from other organisations. We have enjoyed supporting other organisations on their journey and have created Love to Support whereby we offer our support, knowledge and experience to other care organisations. We are really passionate about raising the quality of care across the country and we know we can’t do that alone, so this is why we are here to help. If you are a person needing help, please just pick up the phone and call me on 01803 364000 or email David – we are both here to help.

Going back to people we support, have you ever considered what may happen to people’s care if they go into hospital?

When privately funded – people have the option to keep their care open, so they return with the same team, same visits etc as they did beforehand. You can guarantee one of our leadership team will be visiting the people we support if they go into Hospital.

However for Local Authority funded people sometimes the LA may say they can’t fund the care – we will often challenge this. So much so that our amazing team visited a lady for over 3 months daily whilst she was in hospital. This meant her discharge home was safe, responsive and effective. We were able to adapt to her needs. Constantly being updated and we even had training in the hospital instead of getting community nurses to do the training.

Have you noticed – we don’t use the term Client or Service User? People – please!

The above situation was also very similar for a gentleman who was admitted for a respite break to the local hospice. The local hospice asked if we would continue care throughout his stay. Of course! This meant his discharge was safe, effective, and the continuity of care is so important.

I can’t begin to say that this is just a small list of everyday things the team naturally all do; and maybe you are thinking that this would be expected in all other settings and providers, unfortunately it isn’t.

I really do hope – that the “man” gives me an opportunity to change this. I’ll keep you updated!

With Love,
Maddy x

PS – if you need any support, call me on 01803 364000 or fill in the form below – we are both here to help.