How to build a strong team – a guest blog by social care expert Tim Jones

Published: Tuesday 18th May 2021

We’re delighted to welcome a guest blog by Tim Jones, a leading advisor in adult social care, on Covid, building a great team and why family-run Agincare continues to succeed and grow after 35 years.

How to build and support a strong team – and why ‘35’ is a number worth celebrating

By Tim Jones MBA, a leading UK specialist business advisor to the UK Adult Social Care sector

The care sector is a keystone of our communities and has never before faced such challenging times.

Today, a huge number of care providers are at risk of going out of business.

More than 60% of care providers reported that they were/ are in fear of going out of business because of the financial losses and operational uncertainty resulting from the pandemic. Increases of 30% in costs are a contributory factor, as was the burgeoning pressure on ensuring that the environment is spotlessly clean and safe for both clients and staff. This means that this increased pressure was felt on the business systems, training and processes. They were bursting at the seams as clients’ / residents’ needs and desires changed with regularity.

It led to an immense feeling of distress and uncertainty that weighed heavily on the shoulders of our care leaders. Indeed, prior to the pandemic, it‘s estimated that one in seven older people do not receive the care and support they need. (source: Age UK)

So, already, this statistic was a concern. Then came the harsh double impact of the pandemic and the ensuing lockdown.

Here’s another statistic that may shock you: The reported death rates among care workers at this time are double the numbers among the general population.

We are living in extraordinary times. Despite suffering anguish, feelings of helplessness and seeing the demise of cherished friends and colleagues, our care workforce have continued to demonstrate their skills, commitment and bravery in supporting the most vulnerable. They became the true heroes of our nation (better late than never, right?)

Agincare – a shining light

One of the shining lights in these troubled times is Agincare, who this year will enjoy celebrating their 35th anniversary. Their commitment and achievements are simply outstanding. Agincare has withstood 35 years of challenges such as recessions, a pandemic and now Brexit. And by overcoming those challenges, their services are worthy of your trust, loyalty and commitment.

Creating a great team and culture

Over the past 10 years, I have supported more than 50 care-provider businesses to deliver first-class services and gain award-winning recognition. Through speaking with care-industry business owners and MDs each day in my role as a business growth expert, I have found that there are seven key challenges that care providers face today.

One is creating a great team and culture that ensure the standards of the care provider are met consistently across the group. So many business leaders tell me they continuously worry and get distracted about what daft thing their team is going to do next. Sometimes it’s lacking attention to detail, saying something daft to a resident/ client that destroys the relationship, ignoring an obvious problem until it catastrophically blows up in their face or letting the resident/ client down by not delivering the quality they deserve, resulting in a damaged reputation.

And no matter how many times the team is told to do something, they often forget or go off and do something else because they think they can do it better. The thing is, within our care sector, all you want is for the team to take responsibility and give great service to your clients – rather than the management team having to run around all day after them, losing focus on their greatest strengths.

Instead, they’re having to clear up the team’s mess, get in there and do it themselves, feeling frustrated because the team’s actions are negatively impacting the business and the clients. So, we looked at the two biggest things you can do that change this situation.

A simple question with an obvious answer

One thing to consider first is that no one goes to work in the morning with the intention of screwing up. The key reason why things go wrong is just that some team members think differently from MDs.

They want certainty, they want to be told what to do and they want a system to follow so that they don’t have to think about it!

So, in essence, a great team that performs consistently at a high standard requires two things:

  1. Robust systems
  2. Effective training

If the team isn’t supported by robust systems and effective training to ensure they understand the systems, they will never deliver the results you seek. And that just leads to frustration and angst.

Now, before you think “training is expensive and I don’t have time to set up systems”, let me ask you one final, simple question:

Which do you think is more expensive?

  1. The cost of training your team to follow a robust system, or
  2. The cost of NOT training them and carrying on as you are

The answer’s kind of obvious, isn’t it?

Having the right systems in place enables the team to be more productive, consistent and motivated because you’re making it easy for them to enjoy doing a good job. Scratch that… a great job!

That’s why I hold huge admiration for Agincare CEO Raina Summerson, and her entire leadership team.

I recognise the rarity of an independent, family-run care provider that has built such a sustainable, robust and high-performing business. Agincare has stood the test of time, developed robust systems, and delivered great training to their teams so that they can overcome every challenge in its path (without the need for private equity).

As we pause to reflect on all the many challenges that the past year has placed before us, we all need to celebrate our successes – and Agincare’s 35th anniversary is an achievement well worth acknowledging. Congratulations – and here’s to many more.

* Tim Jones MBA is an award-winning specialist business advisor to the Adult Social Care sector who supports the owners and managers of Homecare providers, care homes, nursing homes and Supported Living services across the UK. Tim is also a Commercial Member of the UKHCA. For more information, please contact Tim on, 07588 321898 or via LinkedIn