The main goal of home care is to keep someone safe and comfortable in their own home.
Business Owner Ann Young began her own business Country Mile Home Care, as she was seeking a better way of providing home care services.
Her business provides in-home care and respite services for the aged, disabled or palliative people and their carers in rural and remote areas. As well as personal care, Country Mile Home Care also provides meal preparation, social support, companionship and transport.
What year did you or will you complete NEIS?
I completed NEIS in 2016.
What motivated you to start your own business?
I was employed as a coordinator at a well-known NFP aged care provider and dealt a lot with client complaints. I thought there had to be a better way of providing in-home care! I also hated the office politics…
How did you find out about the NEIS program?
I was told about it by one of the helpful business advisors at the Small Business Centre in Bunbury.
What was the most valuable information you learned in the NEIS training?
How to write a proper business plan and to understand why it is good to have one. It was also important to understand my market and think about not providing something that was already there. I also learned about pricing of my services, which is very important.
What services and/or products do you provide?
The business is called Country Mile Home Care, and the name is the program. We provide in-home care for the elderly, disabled and palliative people of all ages in rural and remote areas (and the occasional metropolitan client).
The minimum per service is an 8hr day, but we also do overnight shifts and 24 hr services. Country Mile is also an approved provider for Home Care Packages Level 1-4 under the Federal government funding, which means we have clients with ongoing, regular services, some of them 24/7 all year round.
We also broker to the Commonwealth Respite & Carelink Centre for emergency respite for carers and provide brokered services through other aged care providers and hospital discharge services, palliative care services etc.
We are true believers of customer centred care and go the extra mile, in distance and in quality of service. Every client is an individual and we try to make all client requests possible.
What challenges have you had to face since starting your business? How have you overcome these challenges?
The aged care industry is ever changing and totally dependent on the governments funding decisions and implementation of programs. This means constant changes and audits, new aged care standards, changing fund claiming procedures, government accreditation’s etc.
It is a lot of admin work, which I do all by myself. It is very draining to have to learn new processes and IT programs all the time. There is no other way than tackling it – together with a fantastic local IT business who support me at very affordable rates.
Another challenge was a complete change of the business structure. In the beginning I had a lot of short term, one-off clients and didn’t need much staff, which was good. I never wanted to have staff… now, with the ongoing, regular clients under the government funding, I have to provide ongoing coverage of scheduled care services. This means I have now 12 support workers working for me.
The constant scheduling and changes in the roster is very annoying and stressful. These changes are mostly due to the support workers, not the clients… I have decided to have only subcontractors working for me, so I am not under any obligation of giving anyone minimum hours of work, and I can just not use them any longer if they are too unreliable.
In the long run, I will change my business back to a smaller operation. I have decided that I don’t want to grow the business any bigger than it is now. Funnily enough, every time I say that I get another 10 phone calls with bookings…
At the moment I am following my 5-year plan (another 18 months) to get me into the financial position I want. Then I can take it a little easier from there on. Famous last words!
What have been some of the highlights of operating your own business?
I am very proud of what I have achieved. In the beginning I heard of others who tried the same and gave up, because they didn’t get enough business. I think that my knowledge, past experiences and standing in the aged care industry has helped a lot.
Many previous work relations have helped me, recommended me and used my services. I have managed to get contracts with a variety of funding bodies and other, bigger service providers who subcontract to me.
A lot of my clients have been my highlights too! I am extremely happy when my clients write to me or tell me how great our service is and we still get invited everywhere to family parties etc.
My highlights have also been some of the people who work for me! They are very caring, flexible and dedicated, and have a great sense of humour and adventure!!
What is the one piece of advice you can give to others thinking about starting their own business?
Don’t think that as the “boss” you can sit there and watch your staff work. It is relentless, stressful, ever changing and you need a lot of stamina to get through the first years!
Make sure you really have a market in the area where you want to establish your business.
If it doesn’t work within the first 12 months, then think really hard about what you need to change, and then make the changes! Ask someone with experience for advice.
“I am very proud of what I have achieved. It is so much better doing what you love to do and know you provide good quality services!”
Ann encourages those who are wanting to follow their passions and working for themselves to do so.
“As much work as it, I wouldn’t miss it for anything. It is so much better doing what you love to do and know you provide good quality services! And no day is like the other, I have met a lot of wonderful people, travelled the state and made a lot of friends.”
Find out if you may be eligible to apply for New Business Assistance with NEIS.
2 Cantonment Street,
Fremantle WA 6160
(Level 1, Behind The Church)
PO Box 1616, Fremantle WA 6959