Julie Vernon is committed to providing the very highest standard of compassionate home care with her award-winning Extra Help Telford & Wrekin franchise, but the rewards make it all worthwhile
Julie Vernon always knew she was destined to work in a caring environment, having discovered her passion for helping others when she was 17 while employed at a care home.
She went on to build a career in nursing, working in residential care and children’s nurseries, with her last role as senior manager in a special education unit. When the unit was subjected to financial cuts, Julie decided it was time to run her own business, following her passion and utilising the skills she’d gained during the course of her career.
Julie looked into franchising, as she wanted the support of an established brand with a proven business model, and discovered Extra Help in an online search. With very few companies offering similar services in her area, Julie could see a gap in the market, and Extra Help Telford and Wrekin was born in September 2020.
In less than two years, Julie has built a lucrative home help business, which serves around 100 elderly or vulnerable clients with a team of 26 home helpers. Julie has an excellent relationship with social services and her revenue is now over 50 per cent higher than projected.
Julie says: “These clients usually need many hours of help. One client requires us to prepare her daily meals, as well as take her out shopping and on various outings. It adds up to 28 hours per week!”
Julie believes that partnering with social services has been her biggest achievement to date, with 36 social workers regularly contacting her for support. She attributes her success to her wonderful team of home helpers, who go above and beyond to keep Julie’s clients happy. All are Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friends and studying for their first aid and food hygiene certificates this year.
“If one of my home helpers cooks a family meal and has leftovers, they’ll even box them up and deliver them to our clients. That’s what you call going the extra mile!” says Julie.
Care and companionship
Julie believes that since the pandemic, the demand for companionship has rapidly increased. In January, a local organisation called Forum 50+, which helps people find support and social activities, contacted Extra Help Telford & Wrekin to cover a staff shortage.
“We now look after 15 of their clients and our role is solely to provide companionship,” says Julie. “Through the charity, they get 10 hours free and, once they’ve used them, they have the option to become Extra Help clients. I have an excellent relationship with Chris Fox, the forum coordinator, and I’m so grateful she chose us to help.”
Julie’s success hasn’t gone unnoticed. At a recent Extra Help conference, she won two awards: Most Improved Clients and Highest Achiever – Second Year. She was also delighted to win Best Independent Living Support Provider – Shropshire at the 2021 SME News UK Enterprise Awards.
Julie is incredibly busy and admits she finds it hard to say ‘no’ to people. “Any job where you’re involved in your clients’ lives is inevitably going to impact on your own,” she says. “I never want to slip up on the things that take extra time, but which set us apart – like chasing up hospital appointments, changing smoke alarm batteries, checking on their wellbeing – these are some of the things that keep my clients loyal.”
To address her work-life balance, Julie has decided that Friday is now her admin day with every other weekday spent visiting clients. However, although sometimes demanding, Julie says that being an Extra Help franchise owner is extremely rewarding.
“We’re so committed to improving clients’ wellbeing and quality of life that we even introduce ones with similar interests. A couple of them have even formed their own knitting club!” she says.
“There’s nothing like visiting a client and seeing them peering out of the window, so excited to see you. Last year, we gave clients with no families Christmas presents. One lady was particularly happy as she hadn’t received a Christmas gift for years! She was like a toddler - it was incredibly heartwarming.”
At a glance
Number of franchised outlets:
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£8,500 + VAT
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