14 Jun Leading the home care revolution
Connected Health’s new brand of home care is revolutionising the sector in Ireland and the UK.
In redefining home care, Connected Health has grown its turnover to more than £25m and its team from less than 50 to more than 1,100 in less than eight years.
The company provides a wide range of domiciliary and home care solutions across Ireland and the UK, delivering three million visits to older and vulnerable clients annually.
“The team that I have around me are the ones which have made it all happen,” says CEO Douglas Adams.
“It’s been an exciting journey so far and we have even more exciting plans in motion for the future,” he adds.
In this article, we speak with key members of the senior management team tasked with steering the Connected Health home care revolution.
Director Ryan Williams says: “The vision for Connected Health was to completely reinvent what home care means for people. We started with just 47 people and now employ 1,100 people.”
“It’s difficult to attract people into the career and to retain them. We have set about redefining what home care means to people and how we improve the quality of it.
“It’s about looking at how we can do this and disrupt the traditional industry of home care.”
For Connected Health, the home care sector had become stale and was in dire need of changing with the times in order to face up to the huge challenges of providing holistic care packages for our aging population as well as ensuring career longevity and development for care teams.
“What this sector needed was revolution,” says Ryan.
The revolutionary style of care provided by Connected Health is a move away from the traditional time and task-based homecare model of breakfast, lunch and teatime check-ups.
According to Douglas Adams, the old model of home care and the generic training provided to home care professionals never worked well.
“The training hadn’t really improved and there also wasn’t a clear career path for people,” he says. “We started off small. We wanted to recreate a business based on how we thought about care.”
For Douglas, the core of the company’s excellence in care provision is its ever-growing team.
“We decided to embrace technology but focused on the people first. The vision was about changing how you treat your people, changing how you deliver the care, helping to influence the policy-makers, and also always providing the high level of service.”
Ryan explains that the foundations for the company’s phenomenal growth are “what we call the ‘three Ts’ – talent, training and technology”.
Lorraine Corr, who started as a part-time carer with Connected Health, has progressed through each role to become Director of Care.
She is responsible for the day-to-day operations, overseeing the delivery of the highest standards of service to clients across Ireland and the UK.
“I began as a part-time carer and worked my way through the company, moving up through a range of senior management roles until taking up my current position as a company director,” she says.
“That gives me a great understanding of the challenges faced along each step of the way. “It’s a fantastic journey. If you love your job, you’ll never have to work a day in your life. Regardless of what’s happening, the role is constantly helping me grow as a person.”
Such talent attraction and the ability to identify the recruit the right people for each role is a key element in the Connected Health story, according to Ryan Williams – who spent more than ten years solving global recruitment challenges for a number of Fortune 500 companies.
“Our recruitment engine can deliver us more than 1,000 hires each year. We also invested heavily in the training element, and Theresa Morrison has come in and reengineered how we provide that entry-level induction training, right through to much more complex and higher value home care services.”
Theresa is now director of clinical services and training at Connected Health. She oversees a team of trainers across the organisation’s relatively new and accredited Connected Academy.
“We developed our online training platform to ensure we could provide a high standard of training to all our employees across the three jurisdictions. Our Connected Academy platform is attractive, easily accessible, and convenient – ensuring our accredited programmes can be accessed anywhere, anytime,” she says.
“Health and social care services are implemented to make sure the needs of the clients are met – putting the clients at the centre of it all.
“We also value our employees alongside our clients. In some cases within the sector, people traditionally come in at one level and remain there for some time. But the sector is changing and demands are increasing. The Connected Academy has been prepared to deal with that – meeting that demand, retaining our staff and ensuring they value themselves.”
Training begins with a Level One course and progresses up to Level 5 NVQ in health and social care, as well as leadership and management training courses.
Connected Health’s vision of embracing digital solutions that add real value to clients and improve service is a key differentiating factor – which both sets the company apart from its competitors and fuels its growth.
“Technology in home care was virtually non-existent when we started out,” Ryan says.
Connected Health has been at the forefront of transforming the situation in recent years. Technology-based initiatives include its ‘Hospital to Home’ service which digitally enables patients to be discharged early and reduces hospital admissions; CareBox which provides medication reminders and prompts a 24/7 Virtual Carer via video call; and airCeption which utilises patented technology to monitor, detect and alert patients/clients and carers to any form of incontinence.
“One of the most exciting projects in the whole of the UK and Ireland is Care Drop,” Ryan says.
“We have created an outcome-based care model. If someone doesn’t need a visit that day, another person can benefit from that. And we have tied that into virtual care through video technology and devices which can monitor care recipients. All of this lets us know how people are improving through the home care our dedicated teams provide.
“The differentiation in terms of the happiness of the client and the carer is phenomenal.”
Connected Health has received “tremendous support” along the way from its banking partner Ulster Bank, and from Invest NI.
Ryan says the performance of the business in caring for clients amid the Covid-19 pandemic was also “exemplary”.
“As a well-trained service with the right kind of people to provide home care, it’s been a real eye-opener for the wider health and social care system.
“For us, the future remains about transformation. We have a three-year plan for growth which will require additional investment.”
And Douglas adds: “The number of people who will require care across the UK and Ireland is only going to get bigger”.
“When this hits families, many of them don’t know how to deal with it, and navigating that is difficult,” he says.
“What we want to do is reach out to those people and provide a wraparound service, allowing us to use the data to allow us to provide care on an almost daily basis.
“The market for this is massive, and it’s only going to grow. It’s not about grabbing market share – it’s about doing a good job and trying to change care.”
And Connected Health’s plans for growth are significant. The leadership team believes the company’s ability to expand further, to adopt and adapt emerging technologies and methods of care delivery, could see Connected Health grow to 50 offices across the UK and Ireland, with more than 4,000 staff.
Ryan says: “We think home care can become a new foundation stone for how people view health and social care. This is about delivering the vision of ‘Home care 2.0’ across the UK and Ireland.