Helping Hand

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Helping Hand's best practice article

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 Helping Hand is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles
Proprietors Shama and Hakim
Our excellent staff team empower
people to live in their own homes
Helping Hand Domiciliary Care Service is a family-run
homecare business, established and run by Shama and
Hakim Azmi since 1999, serving the local community
of Chorley, Lancashire. After spending time in the care home
sector, they started to notice the growing number of people
under some form of care that yearned to be back in their own
homes. There were many, they realised, who would have
been able to stay at home with a good quality of life if the
appropriate support were available. At this time, the concept
of domiciliary care services was only just starting to develop,
which inspired them to set up Helping Hand Domiciliary Care
Service. Today, they empower people to live in their own homes
– something both challenging and hugely rewarding.
Clients at the core
The majority of our clients are referred from Lancashire County Council, from
which we recently won a tender bid to provide care in the area. The first step in all
this is to visit the client to ensure that the agency is able to provide person-centred
care. An assessment is then carried out with the client and their family to get to
know what their specific needs and expectations are and to allow the formation of
a personalised care plan. This varies greatly between people, and getting it right is
key to providing successful care.
»Proprietors: Shama and Hakim
»Established in 1999
»Based in Chorley, Lancashire
»Services: Domiciliary care
»No. of employees: 36
»Provides drivers for care staff
»A family-run homecare
Helping Hand
Highlighting best practice
Building on this, it is important to
establish what the client’s goals
are, whether it is gaining more
independence after coming out of
hospital, improving their mobility or
being able to dress themselves. For this
to occur, it may mean that a carer will
spend a bit longer with the client for
a specific reason, such as when, for
example, mobilising using a Zimmer
frame as opposed to being transported
in a wheelchair (doing so can often
mean the world to clients). We have
built up relationships with our local
community, clients and staff members.
To run such a business successfully,
you need to have the passion to serve
a vulnerable community.
Staff by our side
A key feature for the successful
outcomes of a homecare business is
staff retention. In our case, more than
50 per cent of our staff have been with
the agency for more than five years,
with several working with us since
the day the business started. Some,
indeed, have moved up to managerial
positions within the company.
In this business, we become part of
the client’s family. Because our clients
are vulnerable adults who open up
their homes to us, staff consistency is
of vital importance and helps to build
trust and satisfaction. Despite this,
however, the homecare sector more
generally has seen poor staff retention
and high staff turnover. From the
initial training to independent working,
there is considerable investment by our
agency to instil our values and develop
the necessary skillsets to ensure that
the right people work for us. This, we
believe, is the key to our exceptional
rate of staff retention.
We aim to hire staff who are interested
in developing. In this regard, we
heavily encourage all our staff to
undergo training to complete Level 2 in
health and social care. To motivate and
help our staff, we have also employed
drivers so that non-driving carers aren’t
disadvantaged – something that allows
us to have broader recruitment. This
is particularly important from a safety
perspective for lone workers, especially
during the long winter nights. It also
enables carers to reach clients on time.
The unsung heroes
The challenge we continue to face
directly is having our care staff
appreciated and keeping morale
high. Unfortunately, the care sector
has not been able to recognise this,
leading to high turnover and risks to
Dedicated and responsive
staff are the key to
care staff are
vital in helping
to reduce the
burden on an
NHS by
reducing the
use of primary
and secondary
care resources
clinical efficiency. The carers for the
most vulnerable people in our society
deserve a wage that is reflective
of the challenging and important
work they do. Staff are constantly
adapting to different environments,
display extraordinary empathy and
show exceptional communication
skills with clients, families and other
However, the social care sector has
gradually received less and less funding
from local authorities over the last
decade, making it impossible to reward
staff appropriately. Domiciliary care
staff are vital in helping to reduce the
burden on an already overstretched
NHS by reducing the inappropriate
use of primary and secondary care
resources. They are unsung heroes,
and their status in the health and social
care system must be acknowledged
and rewarded very soon. It is not an
overreaction to suggest that there
could be a reduction in staffing levels
across the sector that will eventually
lead to health crises.
Changes in the landscape
The last 20 years have shown steady
growth in the regulations for the
homecare sector, which were minimal
when we started the venture. This
has certainly been a welcome and
much-needed challenge that we have
faced. The advent of the CQC as
the regulator for homecare agencies
provides a guideline and a set of
standards that we must achieve; this
has optimised service delivery.
The use of technology in this sector
has grown in line with the current
trends in other sectors. This has also
been the case in our company, and we
strive to find innovative ways of using
it to improve care. In particular, the use
of technology to tackle social isolation
in elderly people is something we
advocate strongly and will undoubtedly
develop rapidly in the coming years.
We have found a significant change
in the dynamic of the day-to-
day running of the service, with
formal robust checks, systems and
documentation needing to be in place.
With backgrounds in medicine, the
importance of such systems was not a
new concept to us, and we were keen
to embrace these.
We have focused on passing on this
ideology to staff, specifically regarding
the importance of documentation.
There does indeed need to be a
greater drive by local authorities and
commissioners to promote innovation
in service delivery, ensuring in turn
that more time is spent on helping
to improve the client’s quality of
life. Consideration should also be
given to how local areas can work
collaboratively so that care is co-
ordinated collectively and efficiently.
We agree with the health department’s
guidance stating that short domiciliary
care visits are not normally appropriate.
We hope that this is the beginning
of a more holistic approach, with
expectation- and outcome-focused
domiciliary care provision, rather than
task-orientated commissioning.
They are
heroes, and
their status in
the health and
social care
system must
and rewarded
Domiciliary care staff are
unsung heroes

This article was sponsored by Helping Hand. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister