Stephen Pennington   Highland Home Carers held a conference last week to mark their 20th anniversary and their 10th year of employee ownership.

It was a fantastic event, attracting a TV personality, a Cabinet Minister, an MSP, the NHS Director for Adult Social Care as well as a wealth of key figures from the sector.  Here, HR administrator Laura Dobinson describes the day.

This is the most high-profile event we have run and we were all a bit nervous as to how it would work out. I’m delighted to say that everything just slotted into place.

Nick Boyle, the founder of Highland Home Carers (HHC), launched the event with an inspiring speech explaining why he sold the business to the employees.

HHC was set up to deliver the highest possible standards of care, enabling people in the Highlands to remain in their homes, in their local communities, for as long as possible. By moving the business to employee ownership, HHC’s unique ethos is secure and we can focus on quality of care.

Managing Director Stephen Pennington (pictured above) outlined how HHC is trailblazing the way adult social care is delivered in the UK. There is talk from Westminster of an integrated service with councils and the NHS collaborating rather than working in silos – this is already the case in the Highlands. Stephen explained how the employee-owned model provides a platform for HHC to build a stable and strong company.

Attendees could choose from a number of workshops to attend which covered a wide range of topics – money management, wellbeing, wills and trusts, personalisation of care, social exclusion.

Danny Alexander

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and local MP, Rt Hon Danny Alexander, joined us for lunch and chatted to carers, service users and guests. In his keynote speech, Danny recalled opening HHC’s Stadium Road office in 2006, and was delighted to follow the progress of the company.

He said it was employee-owned companies like HHC which motivated him to introduce the recent legislation offering tax breaks to encourage more employee ownership of businesses. He told the audience that HHC is one of the best examples of employee ownership in the UK – a superb accolade!

The event concluded with a lively panel session. Aggie Mackenzie, from TV’s How Clean is Your House and Storage Hoarders talked about how she couldn’t get anywhere when organising care for her mother until she contacted HHC. She was full of praise for the service and said she knew their business model was different; this conference helped her understand why.

Aggie MacKenzie

Feedback so far has been great, with some attendees asking us to make it an annual event. It was so good to get together with friends and supporters to talk about the issues surrounding care, and employee ownership. It was particularly encouraging to hear how highly regarded HHC is by our key stakeholders.

Care is a challenging sector to work in. As employee owners we are immensely proud of what we do. At HHC we know we are part of something special. Looking forward to the next 20 years – and beyond!