How to Build a Caring Care Company? A Colbea Success Story

We spoke to Sarah Reed, Owner of Reed Care Services about her experience starting a business in the competitive care industry, and how she planned to stand out…

Profit margins. Efficient Service Delivery. Marketing. Browse a few ‘How to’ guides for starting your own Care company and these are the factors cited. But what about caring? How do you achieve success and continue to care in a competitive industry?

“To do this you need special people,” Says Sarah Reed, owner of Reed Care Homes and Reed Care Services, “and my staff are absolutely amazing, they make a real difference to people’s lives.”

The people that go out there and help people every day, they are the ‘Unsung Heroes’ of the care industry. It’s not an industry you get into for praise, you do it because you care about people.

Sarah, who started Reed Care Services in 2008 with the intention of being “known to be different from other companies in the care industry.”

In the nine years since, she has opened two care homes, launched a community care service and even opened a beauty salon! She jokes that if she’d started her entrepreneurial career earlier, “I could be sitting on Dragon’s Den by now!”

Instead Sarah built a 20-year career in nursing, which moulded her desire to build a caring company that was recognised for going the extra mile for the people we care for – which is what we do.”

Sarah talks about how her ‘old-fashioned’ nursing education instilled the caring attitude into her, and subsequently into Reed Care Services. “I started at 16 as an auxiliary nurse, in the times when you were trained by old-fashioned ‘matrons’ and, in my opinion, I was trained by the best. Standards were a huge thing, they always had to be exacting – your uniform had to be perfect, the ‘hospital’ corners had to be perfect or the sheets would be ripped off the bed (those without patients in). It sometimes felt unfair, but I could soon make a bed in just 30 seconds! It was tough, and I had to work hard to make my way up, but always representing your profession was drummed into me, as was the importance of having the upmost respect for your patients and colleagues. That’s something I’ve always carried with me, our job is to pass on respect and dignity! to all of our patients.”

But how do you translate your own values into a growing care business, when the levels of staffing continue to grow, and the services continue to diversify?

“You’ve got to find the right people. We don’t just fill spaces, which is something that separates us from a lot of care companies. The care we give is bespoke, we design and develop services to fit around the needs of our clients, as you have to match personalities to be able to start to build that therapeutic relationship.

Sarah Reed Reed Care Services

“This is why the support we give our staff is so important to the induction process. Because in this job, no day is the same!

“We provide opportunities for health students from the Colchester Institute, apprentice nurses and so on, and give them the support and training they need to become the nurses of the future.

“The most important aspect is to provide a lot of support, because on a bad day you could be dealing with something horrible like a patient trying to end their own life. On the good days you also get to see vulnerable people shine, but you have to be prepared to cope with both, which is hard. I feel particularly well placed to do this. I’m a mentor for trainee nurses and have extensive experience as a psychiatric nurse. Plus, our Care Manager is a trained psychotherapist – so we are able to provide lots of supervision for our team.”

“I never set out to go into business, it just happened. I was offered partnership in a care home and my partner said, ‘Forget that! We’ll do it.’ So I set up a care home and then one thing led to another.”

Does Sarah have any advice for others considering following her down the entrepreneurial path?

“Go for it!!!! Don’t be put off, there is always business support available, especially if you can get into somewhere like here (Reed Care Services is a tenant in Colbea’s North Colchester Business Centres) to access incubation for your new business.”

Moving forward Sarah has plans to build the community side of Reed Care Service, which she started in 2016.

“We developed it to help care workers in the community. The main bulk of the care work we do is in supporting people with serious mental illness, to provide the support that helps them stay living in their community, rather than ending up in a hospital or care home. It’s difficult work, we want to support our team and help them remember that they’re making a difference to people’s live on a day-to-day basis.”

Sarah Reed has been a client, tenant, advocate and now board member of Colbea. On her appointment, Sarah said she was “incredibly proud to join the Colbea board, and have the opportunity to give something back to an organisation that has helped me in my own business.”