How one Hcsuk customer helped us to start up our business and this year we both celebrate our 30th anniversaries.

I never tire of telling our story of how Hcsuk began, when asked, as it goes to show how great things can begin with simple conversations.

Last week, I thoroughly enjoyed reminiscing with Anita Astle, proprietor of outstanding local care home Wren Hall, about our 30 year journey together in the care sector and how she helped to get us started.

30 years ago in May, Anita had her first baby, Dominic, and at the time we were providing a baby nappy delivery service, Nappies Direct, to new mums and Anita was one of our customers.

At that same time, Anita, together with her parents, were building Wren Hall nursing home and she asked us a simple question which was to dramatically change the direction of our business. Here Anita takes up the story:

‘I asked if you could supply incontinence products which we would be needing for our residents and you said you could, however it wasn’t appropriate for you to supply incontinence products for the older clients as Nappies Direct, so Health Care Services, (now known as Hcsuk) was born.

I remember you joining the business in 1990, Jo, and that’s when the business really took off and you were able to provide us with a broader range of products in addition to incontinence products, including PPE, hand hygiene, pressure relieving and moving and handling equipment.’

This year Wren Hall and Hcsuk both celebrate our 30th anniversaries of being in business and Anita is still one of our best customers, so I asked Anita how Wren Hall has progressed and developed over 30 years?

She told me;

‘I think we’ve gone full circle in the way we care for our ladies and gents. When we started we had a handful of people living with us and it was very much a family business, my Mum and I were working as registered nurses in the business, Dad had his GP surgery on site and would come over for mid morning coffee, lunch, for mid afternoon tea and at the end of his surgery he would come over for his supper, so everybody would stop at those times of the day and we’d all eat together. Then as the home grew and filled, we became more regimented, I hate that word, but because of the numbers, I think it lost it’s family feel.

Then as more people started to move in with Dementia we changed our service, the way we worked and we embraced the dementia care service model, which is all about family togetherness, enabling people to live well and small group living, so although we have 53 people living with us now, we do live in small groups. That family feel has come back, we eat, dance and sing together like we used to when we first started off.’

We organized a tea dance in March 2014 for people living with a Dementia to raise money for Dementia UK in conjunction with Anita and her fab team at Wren Hall.

I love Anita’s story and it’s wonderful that she has managed to recreate that feel from when she first started off. Since then, Anita has established The Mary Bates Day Centre giving day care to people who live with a Dementia and only last year redeveloped part of the building to incorporate Little Wren’s Day Nursery which is intergenerational. There have been many stories in the news about the benefits of intergenerational care and I was keen to find out more about how it has impacted her family members who live with her and the children, of course.

‘Well we remodeled the building in 2010 and we noticed the home like feel made a difference as the peoples families were more comfortable visiting, because they weren’t coming in to big lounges were everyone’s chairs were around the back of the room and everybody was sat staring into space. Things were happening and it was inclusive and more natural. So we had more family visitors and we had younger generations visiting so the next step was, could we embrace intergenerational working? Could we start to invite younger children coming in?

We had students from colleges and students from university and work experience coming in and the youngest was about 14, so we thought could we embrace younger children further, some of the staff asked us if we could start a day nursery, and we didn’t have the space and we didn’t know anything about children and then Mum and Dad had both died and their house was neglected and one night I thought could we convert into office space and downstairs we could have the nursery, so we did that and we have 30 children ages between 0-5 who run around and have fun, the come into Wren Hall and they light up everybody’s faces when they come in, the ladies and gents love it when they come in.

Our guests in the day centre see them walking over and they say, ‘they’re coming, they’re coming!’ and they get really excited and for the children they say to the nursery staff,’ can we go and see the ladies and gents?’ So they love going in and they’re learning how to engage with people, they’ll shake hands, give a high five or a hug and it’s just really nice to see them developing that confidence and those friendships.

Recently, there was a group of children that used to go over and cook with family members, there was a little boy who created a strong relationship with an older gentleman and then suddenly the family member died and the nursery staff were brilliant in explaining that to the little boy, but more touchingly than that, the family took a toy car that was a prized possession of the gentleman to the little boy and now its at the side of his bed and he remembers his friend, so I think that’s really sweet.’

Anita has achieved what only 3% of care homes in the UK have achieved, to be classed as Outstanding by CQC. I asked Anita when they were awarded it and how it feels to have achieved that rating. Also, it’s great to have it, but then she has to maintain it and how do they keep those standards?

We achieved outstanding in September 2016, as that’s when we were inspected but we actually didn’t find out until May 2017, as that’s how long it took CQC to print the report or write it up and make the judgement.

On one side, I felt very proud that we’d achieved it, but I felt frustrated that it’d taken so long for the report to come out. People were starting to ask “Is there a problem?” because it took so long to arrive. Five months is a long time to be waiting for an outcome. Its testimony to the great staff team that we have and the hard work we put in. We can’t stand still and think we don’t need to, it’s business as usual and do what we strive for.’

I wanted to highlight some of the special moments during our 30 year relationship and this is Anita and I when she received her MBE in the 2014 honours list and I presented her with a bouquet to congratulate her on her fantastic achievement!

For me, Wren Hall always feels like a nice place to live. When I come and visit, the staff are always welcoming and the family members look well cared for, engaged and happy, which is what Anita and her team strive to achieve.

The relationship between the Hcsuk and Wren Hall has been regular over 30 years and we’re very grateful for Anita’s business and her loyalty over that period of time. We are also proud to be associated with another outstanding care home, as several of our longstanding customers have attained this fantastic achievement. 30 years is a long time to have a business relationship for, so I wanted to ask Anita what it is about us that has kept her coming back year after year.

‘So I think in the same way that we strive to support those living with us to have the best life that they possibly can, Hcsuk supports us to offer the best service that we can. I always remember something that happened years ago. You did a research project into the different types of gloves which are available to the care sector, what their different uses and applications were and the pros and cons the different types. So not only were we aware of the product we were buying, we were aware the risk we were taking buying one type of glove over another, and it enabled us to make more informed decisions

That’s just one example of the care and attention to detail you take when sourcing and marketing your products. Your 30 years experience and knowledge of the care sector gives me confidence and enables me to trust you as a partner to Wren Hall. It’s the same commitment you have to your customers that we have to ours, and that continuous commitment to improving at every opportunity I think is quite unique to find and it makes my job a lot easier. For that I do thank you.’

I am very grateful to Anita for her great testimonial of what it’s like to be a customer of Hcsuk, it’s nice to hear that we’re doing the right things and we look forward being of continued service to Anita and her team at Wren Hall over the coming years. to the next 30 years.


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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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