Research shows there are 86 employee-owned companies in Scotland, with approximately 6,800 employee-owners generating a combined turnover of around £925million. Recently there has been uptake of the model by businesses that operate in the care sector. Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS) director Sarah Deas discusses why the model is so well suited to this sector.
Employee ownership has consistently shown to improve staff engagement and wellbeing, which in turn leads to better patient experience and outcomes. As owners, employees also have a say in how the business is run, and clients and their families are reassured that the business will remain rooted in the area and be run for the benefit of local people.
These benefits are clearly demonstrated by Highland Home Carers, Stewartry Care, Paramount Care and Caledonia Social Care. Highland Home Carers (HHC) was founded in 1994 and became employee-owned in 2004. Since then, the business has grown to become one of the largest independent providers of home care and support services in Scotland with over 500 staff and a financial turnover of over £7million.
The company aims to deliver the highest possible standards of care, enabling people in the Highlands to remain in their homes and in their local communities for as long as possible. Moving into employee-ownership has ensured that HHC’s unique ethos was secure and provided a platform for growth.
Stewartry Care also became an employee owned company in 2004. Turnover increased by 16% in the first year and profitability by 39% and the company has continued to grow. Employees benefit from being able to influence the direction of the company, being informed on performance and having the opportunity to stand for election as a Director or Trustee of the company. Their clients also benefit from having a highly motivated team, knowing that their care team are empowered and the reassurance that the company will remain locally owned and run for the benefit of local people.
Fife-based care provider Paramount Care joined the growing number of employee-owned businesses in Scotland earlier this year with all 26 staff members becoming shareholders. Set up in 2000 by nurse Ruth Smyth who had a vision of a personalised care service that placed people at its heart, Paramount Care operates throughout Fife, Tayside, Perthshire and Clackmannanshire. Working across the public and private sectors, its team of fully trained carers deliver a range of care services both within people’s homes and within residential care homes.
When it came to exploring succession options for the business, the obvious route was to sell Paramount to another care firm, however, Ruth feared that the ethos her company was built upon would be lost.
Paramount was founded with the aim of providing a personal and approachable care service, where clients or employees wouldn’t have to call bases in locations like London or Birmingham whenever they had a query. It was never about dropping into people’s homes and doing the minimum in order to fit in as many clients as possible, but about providing a high quality of care with close and trusting relationships between carers and clients. The owner felt that these qualities, which set Paramount apart from other care firms, could be compromised if it was bought over by one of them.
By selling it to an Employee Ownership Trust, Paramount Care can continue operating as an independent company rooted in the local area, run by people who care about it. Paramount’s future is now in the hands of people who understand the importance of great care and will ensure the company continues to go from strength to strength whilst delivering the high standards of care that we’re renowned for.
Newly established social care provider Caledonia Social Care (CSC) became Scotland’s latest care business to adopt the employee ownership model, launching on EO Day 2017 (30 June).
CSC focuses on care at home support, including the provision of dementia specific services, alongside personal care to older, disabled and vulnerable people.
Alzheimer Scotland is currently the main investor but will hand it over fully to the newly formed enterprise in the future. This was the first time a Scottish charity has transferred one of its service functions into employee ownership.
CSC’s dynamic employee-owned business model takes forward ownership of many of Alzheimer Scotland’s previous care at home services to support people living with dementia in the community. As well as delivering care at home services the company also offers personalised care to older, physically disabled and vulnerable people to help them remain in their own homes and to live as independent a life as possible for as long as possible.
The launch of Caledonia Social Care represented a real boost to Scotland’s care sector, with an empowered workforce of 150 employee owners, committed to providing an exceptional level of care to 480 clients.
The Scottish Government in its Programme for Government announced that it will be investigating the scope to expand its support to employee ownership, including in the social care sector. We look forward to supporting more businesses to adopt this inclusive model.
To out about the support available to businesses considering employee ownership, please get in touch.