The demand for social care for the elderly is huge and an ageing population means the care sector is only set to increase in importance over the coming years. We talk to Dan Archer, Franchise Director of Promedica24, about the market, the impact of franchising and making a difference
The number of older people with care needs is expected to rise by more than 60 per cent in the next 20 years.
As we live longer and working life is extended, there is pressure on families who may have previously provided support to their relatives. At the same time, publically funded care is under increasing pressure, meaning the private pay care sector continues to grow.
Demand for service
Dan Archer, Franchise Director of Promedica24, explains: “Historically it may have been the case that couples cared for each other or sons and daughters cared for parents. The situation today is that families may be spread over the country due to working commitments and many of those who would previously have provided family-based care are having to work longer hours. This creates a demand for services like ours.”
The demand for live-in care is increasing rapidly and Promedica24 is well positioned to service that demand. The company is Europe’s largest provider of specialist live-in care and the only franchised live-in care provider in the UK.
With over 115 franchisees across Europe, the business has over 12 years’ experience of providing a service that’s different to almost all other care solutions.
“In 12 years we have helped over 19,000 families,” Dan says. “Our service is different and we feel it helps to make a real difference to the lives of our clients. Everyone is familiar with a visiting care service - there are thousands of providers and several high profile franchise companies who will pop in to see a client for anything from 15 minutes up to a few hours in every day.
“At the other end of the spectrum we have care homes, where someone would leave their home and move into a residential care facility. In recent years, because of people’s care needs, the live-in care sector has flourished. This is because for many a visiting service does not provide enough time and because of the lack of availability and stigma associated with care homes there’s a reluctance to ‘go into a home’.”
Talking specifically about the demand for the Promedica24 service, Dan says: “We work with a referral company that helps people to find the right care and they have said that in the past three years they have seen a 500 per cent increase in the demand for live-in care.
“Part of the reason live-in care is growing is because the approach is totally different to a visiting care service. Our carers live in the client’s home full-time, providing one-to-one care when that care is needed.
“People get as much time as they need and because our carers aren’t rushing to get to their next visit or wasting time stuck in a car travelling, the client actually gets more care because the carer has the time to provide the care.”
As the country faces challenges paying for social care, Dan also believes the service offered by Promedica24 is more affordable than the alternatives too.
“We do not compete with the visiting care providers,” Dan explains. “We do not provide a visiting service and most of them struggle to provide a cost-effective live-in service.
“Our competitors are care homes and in this market we are the most attractive solution for the client. The average cost of a care home is between £700 and £1,500 per week. For that there is a ratio of one carer to 10-15 residents. People are woken at the same time, fed at the same time from roughly the same menu, they are put to bed early for convenience and woken late at night for a medication round.
“I’m not being overly critical of the residential care market, but the constraints of the system mean the service is standardised not personalised. Our service compares very well at £695-£895 per week with a full-time carer and a ratio of one carer to one client. Most importantly, the client gets to stay at home.
“What we offer is a viable alternative to going into a home and a more personalised service. Our clients get up when they want, eat what they want, we shop with them and cook with them, rather than for them. It’s the gold standard at a truly affordable price.”
As a franchise opportunity, Promedica24 offers a unique approach to entering the care sector. In the traditional model of care franchising, the franchisee is the registered entity with the regulator, the Care Quality Commission. To register with the CQC the franchisee needs to take office space and employ a registered care manager from day one.
In addition, the franchisee has to go into the local community and recruit all the carers who will provide the service. The problem for many with this model is that with a franchise fee of £25,000- £35,000 and working capital of an additional £60,000-£90,000 investing in a care franchise can cost over £100,000.
Dan explains where Promedica24 has taken a different approach: “Our business started 12 years ago as a recruitment business and we currently have over 52 offices in five countries recruiting carers.
“We recruit the carers, which means the franchisee doesn’t have to. As the carers are our employees and we manage them, we are registered with the CQC. This means the franchisee doesn’t need to be and they don’t need office space.
“We also employ the care managers, which means the franchisee can work from a home office and this keeps their overheads down. The total cost of our business, including the franchise fee and working capital, is £25,000.”
Dan says this drives different people to want to be a franchisee with Promedica24: “Our franchisees recognise that it’s harder to make a difference than to make a profit. I don’t want the people who can run our business to be limited to those who can afford to make a six-figure investment.
“Our service changes the lives of our clients and I want to work with people who are passionate about the difference we can make. Our franchisees have lower turnovers than other care franchises because we bear most of the costs associated with delivering the care. The net profit figures for our franchisees are, however, comparable and after 12 months we have UK franchisees with businesses generating over £6,000 per month in profit.”
Windsor and Maidenhead franchisee
One of those to benefit from a more affordable care franchise delivering a more affordable care solution is Rish Amod, who is a franchisee for the Windsor and Maidenhead area.
Rish says: “I believe in what we at Promedica24 offer. What we do is tailor-made; it’s about companionship, friendship, support and care. Everyone deserves dignity and the chance to maintain their independence by staying in their own homes wherever possible.
“It’s no exaggeration to say that my mission in life now is to educate my community to ensure the elderly, and those in need, have access to this amazing service.”
Rish joined Promedica24 earlier this year after a career in the teaching profession. He understands the demand for his service and has seen first-hand the challenges of the pressure on the social care system.
Rish’s partner works in the NHS and helped him to see where the live-in care service could help to reduce the problem of bed blocking.
“When I heard about Promedica24, I loved the concept,” Rish says. “I remember thinking, you know what, I’ve spent 26 years helping young children and now I want to help the elderly.
“The culture and values of the business, along with what they were trying to achieve, resonated with me. My partner, Suzanna, worked in two different care homes before becoming a nurse. She used to recall how the owners of the care homes were, for the most part, financially oriented and felt the system was about money more than the provision of care.
“It would upset me to hear how she was expected to take care of 20-30 residents at any one time - that’s not care, it’s incarceration. It’s not right. We all want to provide the best for our parents and grandparents, don’t we? But you know we can’t, and in fact shouldn’t, always do that personally.
“Promedica24 stood out for me as the shining beacon of hope - here was the compassionate, personal and dignified care we all want for our loved ones. It’s what they deserve and I wanted to be a part of providing it.”
Benefits for all
So Promedica24 has taken a different approach to care and to franchising. The business model is more accessible, meaning far more prospective franchisees can become involved in sharing the great news of a more affordable care solution.
This in turn is helping to make a difference to the lives of thousands of people across Europe. Promedica24 is already Europe’s largest specialist live-in care provider and franchisees benefit from the support of a £120 million turnover business, which employs thousands of people, meaning no one is ever alone.
Dan concludes by saying: “When faced with the choice of leaving their own home and moving into an institution or staying at home with a live-in companion, over 90 per cent of people would choose our service.
“We have also surveyed doctors about home-based care solutions and they feel people live longer and better lives. They also say people recover better at home and, crucially, that if they could choose, 80 per cent of doctors would choose a home-based carer for their own parents.
“We can see the benefits our service delivers, but I also believe our approach to franchising delivers benefits to franchisees. Our franchisees can become passionate advocates for our service at a local level without have to cope with the biggest challenge in any care business - finding, training and managing care staff.”