Discover ways of developing empathy to help impact your care business

Today I want to talk to you about empathy, a word which is being used ever more frequently within the care industry. But what is empathy?

The dictionary defines it as:

‘The ability to understand and share the feelings of others’ and given the nature of the work that we all do, helping to support those in our care, this is an invaluable tool for us.

What’s got me really thinking about the value of empathy is that recently I had a personal experience which involved a business demonstrating empathy to me in a truly brilliant way.

I was in hospital having a pre-op assessment for a procedure I was to have, and the nurse, a lovely welsh girl named Cheryl, who was completing my assessment – told me that she’d undergone the same operation the previous year.

I felt instantly reassured on learning this, just because she had such good insight into the procedure itself, how to prepare for it, getting over the anesthetic, after care hints and tips and how her experience could help me get through my op and recovery.

I honestly thought that it was such a great way that BMI Healthcare showed they were really empathizing with their patients, by effectively utilizing the personal experiences, skills and knowledge of their staff.

I’m a great believer in the expression – ‘never judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes’ and this is especially important in the job that I do working in the care industry

My experience helped to both clarify and galvanise the vision I have had for my business over the past two years, and that has been to add to our team someone who has had real experience of working in care homes to a senior level and who understands the environment, the pressures and has truly walked a mile in our customers shoes.

So I am delighted to welcome Lucy Lynch to our Hcsuk team, as our new Healthcare Solutions Manager. Lucy has 5 years experience working in care homes and has worked her way up from a caring role to Deputy Manager at her last home.

I firmly believe that Lucy will be a great asset to the both our business and to our customers as she will be able to empathise with situations and challenges and be able to provide practical solutions to your challenges.

There is one, very personal way, I’ve also been able to develop empathy for people who are living with a Dementia.

I’m fortunate enough that I still have my Mum with me, 98 last March, currently still living at home with Vascular Dementia . Helping to support Mum over the last few years has given me an incredible insight into some of the symptoms and behaviours of people living with Dementia. I have learned what works with Mum, what doesn’t and how to help her to be the best she can be. When other people might think of her behavior as ‘difficult’, I see it as a sign of some distress and work with her to overcome this.

Mum has been an inspiration to me and has led to write a guide to help people with a Dementia to eat better. She’s also been a tester for some of my products solutions which have worked really well with her. This enables me to confidently go out to my customers and say, “Yes I’ve tested this particular product personally with my mum, I know it works’

Mum is also in my head when I research and select the product solutions we provide – I always ask myself, ‘would this product be good enough for my Mum?’ – And it has to meet that criteria to make its way onto our range of solutions.

Recently I visited the Care and Dementia Show and took part in a virtual dementia tour. This again is something which has been designed purely to help you and I to walk a mile in the shoes of someone with a Dementia, to understand the challenges they face on a daily basis and therefore how the way that we work with them and how we interact with them can have a positive impact on the quality of their life and their behaviour.

As part of this experience I had to don weighted gloves and dark glasses with blacked out middle bits so I only had peripheral vision. We were given headphones to wear that had a lot of muffled background noise going on and we were then literally pushed into a room with dark red and strobe lighting which I found extremely disorienting. There were four of us in this room and I literally became a different person – I was anxious, I was shuffling, very unconfidently, around the room, I wanted to hold onto the sides and when a “Carer” came up to me and put her face very close to mine and asked me to do something meaningful I looked for something to do. I walked to the sink and tried to wash up some cutlery and crockery, and put it on the draining board, but as I placed the crockery carefully on the side the “carer” came and literally shoved it back into the sank. I then thought I could walk through into another room so I tried to push open, what I thought was a door, and a really loud alarm sounded, which really shocked me and all I wanted to do was sit down so that I’d feel safe.

I emerged from the experience feeling anxious and a little shaky, however I was pleased I had completed it, because I really believe it gave me a greater insight into how it feels to live with a Dementia and has massively improved my experience in terms of how what my business does can impact the lives of people living with dementia. I will think about them differently, I think about Mum differently a little bit now too so it was really helpful for me.

Again it was trying to help us develop empathy for our customers, our residents and the people we support.

I also read an article in The Guardian recently about Sara Livedeas, CEO of The Freemantle Trust, who booked herself in to stay at one of her care homes one weekend. What better way is there to experience what your residents see, walk a mile in their shoes, interact with the staff, the environment and everything about the service you are providing?

Sara learned some valuable lessons around what she liked and didn’t like about the service, including that the television should be on less, and was able to create improvements as a result of her stay. What an insightful thing to do. I think we should do more of that.

So my question today is how do you develop empathy with your residents and the people that you support? When was the last time you walked in their shoes? I’d love to hear your comments, ideas and thoughts on this subject and how we could incorporate empathy more into the way we run our businesses so we can gain a better understanding of our residents and learn how we can serve them better.

#empathy #careindustry #carehomes #corevalues #jobonser #care #caring #businessvalues #walkamile



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Customer Testimonials

“We’ve built a strong working relationship with Hcsuk over many years, having used them to source, install and service our medical training equipment. We have always found the team very professional, helpful, and well-organised. We’d like to give a particular shout out to Phil, the technician / engineer who has been the consistent friendly face visiting our business to inspect and test our mobility hoists every 6 months. Thank you for all your support and advice.”

P. B. (Care Manager), Blue Bird Care Ltd

You are part of a great company, if we can help you grow by contracting you out to our sites its good for you, but it’s great for us because your service is fantastic, very efficient, everyone within Hcsuk is super helpful in answering queries and every time we’ve had an issue, Hcsuk has always been there to solve the problem almost immediately, which is fantastic.

Leicestershire County Council

Truly exceptional levels of customer service, the best I have experienced for many years. Very helpful staff made follow up calls to ask how the equipment was performing and supplied extra user instructions to supplement the manufacturers manual. I would not hesitate to order from this company again.

Savills Estate Agents

We would just like to pass on our thanks for all of your help with our orders and would be pleased if you would also pass on our thanks to the manufacturers for being so accommodating in meeting our requirements. We have found everyone very helpful.

Lincs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

Since I set up the account for Hcsuk over 18 months ago I have found them to be an excellent advocate of our products. They have been willing to learn about the technical and servicing elements to our hoists and the sales staff have really taken on board and proactively promoted our range where possible. I feel that as a company Hcsuk have got the desire and right people in place for growing in this competitive industry. They seem to push themselves to go that little bit further and offer that little bit more to stand out from the rest. May our relationship continue going from strength to strength.

Joerns Healthcare

As a care home manager I have used Hcsuk for my supplies for the last 20 years in two homes. I have always found them to be helpful and reliable. Their products are of the highest standards, they are able to source anything. The delivery service is prompt and regular so I do not have to keep large amounts of stock. They supply extra services such as servicing and repairs which are done efficiently, and training in COSHH. The reps are pleasant and helpful bringing new products to my attention but are never ”pushy”. Aftercare is good, any problems soon sorted. I would recommend them highly and would not think of using anyone else.

Littleover Nursing Home

HPC have supplied Hcsuk (Health Care Services Ltd) for well over a decade now and we would consider them to be a high quality and professional business run in an organised and progressive manor. We do not rank our customers or have a preferred customer status but if we were to introduce such a scheme I can confirm that Hcsuk would easily make such a grade.

HPC Healthline

As a manufacturer we look for key values in a distributor some of these include honesty, reliability, commitment and reputation. Hcsuk carry all of these and many more. With a twenty plus year working relationship we now place Jo and the team at the top of our distributor list. I have no hesitation in recommending Hcsuk to any prospective manufacturer or customer and wish Jo and the team all the best for the future.

Cleenol Group Ltd

It is brilliant that we are able to ring Health Care Services and that you will go the extra mile to get us the stock we need as soon as possible.

Rykneld View Nursing Home

Just to say a huge thankyou to you and your fantastic team, and I mean that from the Heart. I have never before experienced such a person centred company.

Hampton Grange Nursing Home

What I like about working with Health Care Services is the relationship we have built up and the personal service. The homes report that you always deliver on time, the quality is consistently good and the prices competitive. Your team members are always willing to go that extra mile for us and if ever we have an issue there is always someone there to save the day.

Eastgate Care

Thanks to Jo for going over and above to get us our items in time for our special event at Buddleia House – it was very much appreciated. A massive thankyou for your continued assistance as a supplier to ourselves.

Buddleia House

We have always received excellent services from everyone at HCS at our 2 care homes, especially Lee, Jo and Phil. Always professional with a quick response time. Nothing ever seems too much trouble. Recently I had to use them personally for equipment to enable my mothers discharge from hospital. I had a response within the hour for prices and delivery came straight from the manufacturer to speed up delivery. Phil arrived at the same time to put the equipment together for us! I can’t thank them enough for putting our minds at ease and for the continued support from a personal and professional perspective. I’d recommend them to anyone requiring care equipment and its nice to support local businesses. Especially when they do such a good job!!

Orla House

I contacted HCSUK trying to find a hoist that could be operated unaided by the client. I had become very disheartened, no-one was really helpful until I spoke to Donna at HCSUK.

Donna was incredibly understanding, her professionalism raised my spirits again. Everything Donna said she would do she did, including arranging for me to speak to Andrew the salesman who like Donna was incredibly helpful, happy to bring two machines to demonstrate.

I can’t recommend them highly enough. They are good people.

Penelope C

I spoke to Lee Atterbury 2 weeks ago, when I was despairing about the prospect of finding any equipment to help my husband in the bathroom. I had tried all the popular brands, but none were right for his needs.

When I spoke to Lee he understood what I was saying and set about trying to find what we need. He was so patient and understanding and gave me the confidence to explore outside the box.

I spoke to Lee today and was able to tell him that we, hopefully, have found the solution. I am sorry that it was not a product you sell, though you may in the future, but will certainly look first to HCS for other products.

Thank you so much to Lee for first class customer service.

Christine G, Sheffield

VAT Relief Information

Conditions for VAT relief for disabled people

Some of the products which can be purchased from the Hcsuk website are available for an eligible person to purchase without paying VAT on them. HM Revenue and Customs sets out the conditions when equipment for disabled people might be free of VAT and how to claim exemption from paying VAT on these products.

Products a can only be exempt from VAT when all the following conditions are met:

  1. The customer is eligible to purchase supplies at the zero rate
  2. The goods are for the personal or domestic use of the customer
  3. The goods and services are eligible to be supplied at the zero rate

A more detailed explanation of each of these conditions is given below, but you should visit the HM Revenue and Customs Website to fully understand the conditions

The product must be being purchased for someone who is chronically ill or disabled.

A person is ‘chronically sick or disabled’ if he/she is a person:

It does not include a frail elderly person who is otherwise able-bodied or any person who is only temporarily disabled or incapacitated, such as with a broken limb.

‘personal or domestic’ use means that the supply must be made available specifically for the use of an eligible individual.

You don’t have to physically buy the goods in person. If your parent, guardian or wife or husband buys the goods and services for you, then you won’t be charged VAT.

What counts as personal or domestic use?

Personal or domestic use means that the goods or services are supplied for your own private use, rather than for business purposes. Also, the goods or services must be just for your own use – not for use by anyone else, or chronically sick or disabled people in general. However, if you and your partner are both chronically sick or disabled and you buy goods or services for both of you to use, then you won’t have to pay VAT.

Products which are offered for sale on this website which qualify for VAT relief to be claimed for an eligible person.

The products which can be bought without paying VAT are:

Only the products on our site carrying the VAT exemption price (the smaller price marked ex VAT) are eligible to be purchased this way and you must tick the box on the basket page indicating that you wish to claim VAT exemption on the items in your basket that are eligible for VAT relief.

How to claim

On the my basket page of this website a link to the online declaration form is provided if the basket contains a product that qualifies for VAT relief. You must tick the box to state you wish to claim VAT relief on the eligible product and complete in full the reason by which you are ‘chronically sick or disabled’ and name and address of the claimant. If possible the person making the claim should complete this form, but a family member, carer or medical professional may complete the form on the claimants behalf. To submit the claim and receive the VAT relief, click the ‘Submit VAT Relief Claim’ button before proceeding to the checkout.

Please note that all orders submitted with a VAT relief claim form completed are checked before the order is processed.

It is necessary to complete a separate claim form each time a qualifying product is purchased from Hcsuk.


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