The guests also included: Caremark (Wandsworth) customers; local community leaders from Citizens UK, a community organising group which is campaigning for better social care for service users and improved treatment of care workers; members of local charities involved with supporting vulnerable adults (including Mencap and Share Community); wardens of local sheltered housing schemes; representatives of WorkMatch (Wandsworth Council's programme to get unemployed people into work).
The event was also well-supported by other Caremark franchisees and members of the Caremark franchisor, including its founder and CEO, Kevin Lewis.
Caremark (Wandsworth) Care and Support Workers (CSWs), clearly identifiable in their uniforms, shared their perspectives on social care with interested guests. Attendees enjoyed a selection of delicious sandwiches, wraps and beverages.
Formal proceedings were kicked-off by James McCallum, owner and managing director of Caremark (Wandsworth), who warmly welcomed the guests, pointing out that "launch" was something of a misnomer as Caremark (Wandsworth) had gained its Care Quality Commission registration in September 2013, had provided care and support to customers since December 2013 and in the 5 months of trading had gone from zero to 700 hours of care per week, with a team of CSWs now 25-strong.
James gave a brief presentation covering:
- Reasons for changing career from financial management to social care, essentially to do something more worthwhile.
- Caremark (Wandsworth)'s two fundamental objectives, namely to:
- deliver the highest standards of care possible to customers and
- do this through caring for its CSWs, thereby increasing their dignity in carrying out their difficult jobs.
- The question of whether society values CSWs' work sufficiently highly, and that to enable publicly funded care (for individuals unable to afford care privately) rates to rise to in turn permit care providers to pay proper and fair rates to CSWs, priorities may need to change. Acknowledging that this was something of a hot potato, he left the question hanging for the attendees to ponder!
- Strategy for Caremark (Wandsworth), which, reflecting Wandsworth's unusually young population, was to focus not just on caring for the elderly, but also on younger adults and children with physical and learning disability.
James concluded by saying that the term "launch" was indeed appropriate after all, because whilst a solid start had been made, it was indeed only a start, and there was a long way to go to achieve his goal.
He commented: "My ambition is that Caremark (Wandsworth) becomes the leading home care provider in Wandsworth. By 'leading' I don't mean the biggest; rather I mean providing the highest standards of care to customers, by the most cared for team of care and support workers".
James concluded by thanking his exceptional Care Manager, Harriet Smith, and the team of CSWs for all their work in taking Caremark (Wandsworth) to where it is today, before handing over to Caremark (Wandsworth)'s CSW Dede Diaby, who gave an impressive speech.
Originally worried that joining a start-up like Caremark (Wandsworth) might have meant that the business lacked well-established strong values of delivering high quality care, she found instead a fresh approach that was wholly committed to such standards and the very opposite of the much publicised examples of poor quality care reported in the media. She praised the support that Caremark (Wandsworth) gives her 24/7 to do her job with confidence, enabling her to care for others as she would care for her own parents, and as a result she never feels on her own out in the community.
Dede was followed by a Caremark (Wandsworth) customer, Janet Goodere, who commended Caremark (Wandsworth) for the high standard of care provided to her sister, at very short notice. She felt enormous gratitude to Caremark (Wandsworth) as a result.
Jane Ellison then gave the keynote speech on the increasing importance of social care in the community. At a time when the media was focusing attention on instances of unacceptable care, Jane reminded her audience that these instances are rare and the majority of carers are doing an exceptional job, often in very difficult circumstances, and this high standard of care goes unreported by the media.
Jane congratulated Caremark (Wandsworth) on the strong development of the business to date, and on the contribution that it was making to people in need in the community and also in providing work for 25 CSWs. Wandsworth's community and economy was benefitting from businesses like Caremark (Wandsworth).
She then presented Caremark (Wandsworth)'s Carer of the Month Award to Dede.
The formal proceedings were concluded by the Mayor, who congratulated Caremark (Wandsworth) on providing high quality care in the community. She cut a ribbon together with James, symbolically signalling the launch of the business, before proposing a toast to its success!