Care ‘calendar girl’ Clare receives first London double Outstanding

Clare Jefferies and service user at a Memory Cafe

A MUM-of-two who founded a care company in memory of her late parents is the first London home care provider to receive a double Outstanding rating from the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Clare Jefferies has devoted the last seven years to providing home care and companionship with Home Instead Senior Care in Wimbledon and Kingston, opening her office after experiencing poor care when her own parents were terminally ill at the same time.

She’s since dedicated her working life to recruiting, training and retaining a team of truly caring people who want to make a difference to older people’s lives, building up a team of 135 caregivers and 14 office staff whose commitment has been praised by healthcare professionals.

Clare has also recognised that needing help to continue living in your own home is just one part of getting older and believes that support to stay socially active is equally as important in the care equation.

Nicknamed ‘calendar girl’, she has set up events and clubs in her community each week to give older people diary dates to look forward to – getting them out of their homes, preventing loneliness, isolation and depression.

With two Outstanding ratings in succession, the first time it’s happened in the capital, Clare has been praised by the CQC for her person-centred approach to care for her 183 clients and for recognising how valuable a calendar of social activities are in keeping seniors connected to society and part of their community.

Inspectors recognised the impact her social clubs were having on older people’s wellbeing noting: ‘The positive feelings people get sometimes last all week until the next event.’

“The double Outstanding is dedicated to my family of caregivers and my office team. They are the backbone of what we do. Being a caregiver takes dedication, commitment, guts and courage. To have such responsibility for an older person is huge and I respect and admire every single one of my amazing team,” said Clare.

Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission, said: “The quality of care which our inspectors found here was exceptional and I am very pleased that we can celebrate the service’s achievements. An outstanding service is the result of a tremendous amount of hard work and commitment. I would like to thank and congratulate everyone involved.”

Recruiting and retaining caregivers

Commitment to her caregivers ranges from on-going training programmes to equip her team to work in the sensitive space of senior care, to a loyalty bonus where pay increases per hour for each year they have stayed with her.

Her winter reward initiative was also highlighted by the CQC inspectors who noted: ‘Last winter the office team took out a ‘support vehicle’ to caregivers. This was loaded with hot chocolate and coffee, fruit, sandwiches, ice scrapers, de-icers, gloves and torches. They waited outside the person’s house to surprise the caregiver with treats and to thank them for their hard work.’

Caregivers spoke highly to the CQC inspectors in turn saying: ‘This is not a job it’s much more.’ and ‘It’s a privilege to be working for Home Instead.’

Praise from healthcare professionals followed in the report: “The management is experienced, caring and well-regarded locally, and we know that many clients’ lives are considerably better off thanks to the services they provide. We are fortunate to have them.”

Another healthcare professional added: “The overwhelming view that clients and relatives give me is that they are very happy with the care they are receiving. They have spoken of timely input, of being flexible and thinking outside the box.”

Keeping seniors social

Clare’s diary of calendar events includes weekly memory cafes with reminiscence activities for people with dementia as well as transforming a local centre into a dementia-friendly supper club once a month.

She heard that one of her clients was missing going to the pub and chatting about football because all his friends had passed away, so she set up a monthly Gentlemen’s pub lunch club and quickly found a number of ‘old boys’ who were also missing male companionship.

She wanted to devise social events with a sense of style and sophistication too. With that in mind – the All England Lawn Tennis Club plays hosts to her Coffee and Culture club at Wimbledon offering intelligent conversation, tennis talks and Centre Court tours.

An Outstanding history of firsts

Two years ago, Clare was the first London home care provider to receive an Outstanding, the highest rating possible, from England’s care regulator. News of her second Outstanding was confirmed this month, making her the first London home care provider to achieve the top rating twice.

Clare’s own care career journey began after losing her father Mike to Motor Neurone Disease and her mother Anna to cancer within seven months of each other. Having seen an endless stream of different faces visiting her parents, carers with little time, who didn’t know her loved ones, their strengths or weaknesses, she was inspired to make a stand for quality home care.

“The carers that came in to see my father didn’t know anything about Motor Neurone Disease. I watched as my proud dad, a former aviation insurance underwriter with Lloyds of London was treated like a stupid old man. I knew then that there had to be a better way.

“Now with a double Outstanding rating and the commitment of a team as driven as I am to change the face of ageing and to see dignity in care, we’re proof positive of that better way.”