Chapter Care

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Chapter Care is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Highlighting best practice
JeffWilton-Love, Company
Lauren in the field
Chapter Care is a family-owned service operating in North
Devon. They provide domiciliary care and support to
users throughout the county, including in many difficult
to access areas. Currently, they are attempting to modernise
their services through the incorporation of telecare and have
recently launched an ambitious recruitment drive to encourage
more people to enter the industry. Company director Jeff
Wilton-Love has been at the forefront of these new projects and
explains how they will benefit the sector.
Health and social care, particularly domiciliary care, are in a state of uncertainty.
A widespread lack of understanding of national demographics and practical care
work has dictated an unreasonable blanket costing on service prices. Working in
North Devon, which is sparsely populated and rural in a lot of areas, gives rise to
vastly different challenges than any other service may experience in a more urban
North Devon has an increasingly elderly demographic, in part caused by its
popularity as a retirement destination. This places greater strain on the NHS and
only increases the pressure on us to provide an outstanding service. We are striving
to achieve this and feel that we are performing well. We are searching for ways
to implement new technology that will enable us to provide a better level of care
while managing to keep costs down.
»Company Director:
»Founded in 2008
»Based in North Devon
»Services: Domiciliary care
»No. of employees: 50
Chapter Care
A depleted workforce
The care industry as a whole is a
strained sector. We have found that
workers are leaving the sector to
pursue jobs in retail and the service
industries, mostly due to the increased
pay that workers can receive for this
type of work. The amount we can pay
is dictated by the local authority, which
bases these figures on UK Homecare
Association guidelines, which suggest
that everyone should be paid at the
national minimum wage. Because of
this, we struggle to remain competitive
in the workplace market, as we are
competing against businesses that
can guarantee shifts and pay £9.88
To combat this, we developed a
business model in which we could
pay by shift to try to address some of
this disparity. This development has
brought huge risk to the company,
however, and I believe we are the only
agency in the southwest to do this. A
huge percentage of our income goes
on staff wages, which leaves very
little for running costs, but, through
innovative finance solutions, we have
managed to cope. We believe that
everyone needs to follow our example.
The NHS Trust Local Management
Board, which we sit on, have
attempted to find a way to make this
standard procedure across the sector.
We need to draw people back into
the sector now before the situation
significantly worsens.
The challenges of rural care
Looking to the future, we are working
to extend our capabilities into hard to
reach areas. North Devon is fraught
with difficult packages of care that are
simply not viable. Travelling 20 miles
each way for a single-hour visit simply
does not make financial sense, so we
have looked at innovative ideas to
address this issue.
There are also specific areas
throughout Devon with unique
problems, and one of our next
steps is to find new ways to provide
service in these areas. The local town
of Ilfracombe serves as a perfect
example. We have a large variety
of social care packages available
but are simply unable to recruit
enough employees to implement
them. Ilfracombe is a medium-
sized seaside resort, is quite densely
populated and has an increasingly
elderly population. Travelling there is
awkward, and people are reticent to
do so. Ilfracombe is also dominated
by a large quantity of restaurants,
supermarkets and other businesses
that are able to offer higher pay. As
we are only able to pay just above the
minimum wage, this makes sourcing
recruits extremely difficult.
To try to solve this issue, we have
launched an aggressive recruitment
drive in Ilfracombe, which I intend
to manage as a separate entity or
“micro-zone”. We are also looking
Lisa, Helen and Leanne
co-ordinating care
A widespread
lack of
of national
and practical
care work has
dictated an
costing on
service prices
Highlighting best practice
at the viability of a pop-up centre, as
well as working with the NHS Trust
and Devon County Council. If this
proves to be successful, this could
produce a blueprint to be followed
in other such areas throughout
Embracing innovation
We have recently tendered a takeover
of Allied Healthcare UK’s North Devon
office, where we ensured continuity
of care and employment for staff at a
truly difficult time. Allied Healthcare
UK were a national provider who were
closed after the CQC found them to
be financially unstable – something not
uncommon in the current economic
climate. We felt stepping in and
helping was the best solution for
everyone and, although it was a lot of
work in a short period, we have made
a real success of it.
From an investment point of view,
being a care agency is extremely
difficult. Care agencies are VAT exempt
– we cannot charge VAT, but we must
pay it and are unable to reclaim any.
This makes expansion into certain
areas virtually impossible, as we cannot
be competitive. I have recently started
to lobby for the status of care agencies
being changed from exempt to zero-
rated. I believe we could make a huge
difference in the sector with this small
change, and consequently put more
money into the care industry by doing
so. Allowing the care sector capacity
for investment into other projects in
this manner could also help to address
the disparity in recruitment.
I am positive that change can happen
and I will keep pushing to make things
better. We need to look at technology
and be open to new ways of doing
things – which we are – and utilise the
energy throughout our management
structure. I believe we can bring about
change and, to do it, we need to
focus on things at a macro-level. The
industry as a whole needs changing –
and I want to be an instrumental part
of that change.
The industry as
a whole needs
changing – and
I want to be an
part of that
Office staff:
Tracy, Harriet, Rosie,
Jeff, Lisa, Nicky, Emma,
Juliet, Helen and Lisa

This article was sponsored by Chapter Care. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.