Eidyn in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a special place. There is something intangible in the air. A sense that should you happen to make the right left turn you might even find a little magic. That was certainly the sense we had when CarePlanner visited Eidyn Care.

CarePlanner has been working with Eidyn Care for almost three years. During this time they have won a clutch of awards and a bagful of hearts. I spoke with their Operations Manager Andrew McLennan to find out what makes them tick and what the future holds. 

“Rebecca and I are very ethical…we always recruit on values rather than just going, ‘you’ve got a good CV’,” says Andrew. “We look at their values to see if they’re empathetic and caring. It’s one of the reasons I think why we’re different from a lot of the other care companies, we’re getting the right people in.”

Recruitment and Training 

Eidyn Care approach hiring staff with the same purpose and care they do managing their clients. They have a strict screening process. This consists of: a telephone screen, face to face interview, training screening and on the job screening. “90% of them pass their probation because we have got such a strict screening process,” Andrew explains. “We try to whittle it down so that we get folks who are really good people.”

The organisation prides itself on the thorough training and support provided to carers during their 6-month probation. 

“Because it’s lone working we try and have it very much that they are not lone workers. We have this structure where they have support from everybody,” Andrew explains. ‘Everybody’ includes Rebecca McLennan, the registered manager, the care team leads, as well as a mentor and a trainer. Andrew describes what makes a good team lead; “Empowered and experienced people who are good at man-management. Their responsibilities are to make sure they have their shadow shifts, the training they require and their mentoring as well.”

The role of the mentor is also crucial. “We try to have mentors meet new carers out in the field,” Andrew says. “Care team leads try to meet them in the first month, try to phone them, see how is everything. Try to constantly be in contact with them so they’re not left isolated. Their mentor looks after them for the next 3-6 months, doing a one month, three month, and sixth month reviews.” 

The benefits of such an involved approach are apparent in both the company’s retention rate through probation and the atmosphere of their office. During our visit, there was a supervisors meeting, led by Rebecca. Everyone seemed energised and engaged. Emotions that indicate a workplace where people feel a purpose and ability in the work they do.

Recruiting and retaining staff is one of, if not the, biggest issues faced by domiciliary care managers. Eidyn Care maintains an active dialogue with their staff, an empowered infrastructure with their care team leads, and a rewards scheme to ensure that staff feel valued and supported. Maintaining a highly skilled staff is about more than free coffee and cinema tickets, it’s about making them feel valued and respected. “Our motto is: if you look after your staff the staff will look after your clients,” says Andrew.

Eloi explains the Mentor programme to Lorcán

Taking Care of Each Other

When delivering palliative care, this responsibility can take on a deeper dimension. Andrew explains: “Whenever someone goes through the death of a client we do what we can to be there for our staff. We’ve heard some horror stories of what it can be like. We immediately knew that’s wrong. Normally Rebecca will go to our carer, check in on them, takes their shifts off for the next day or two until they feel happy and comfortable going back to work, it’s a really tough, tough thing. You’re expecting it but it’s never easy.”

By supporting and empowering their staff, Eidyn Care have developed a reputation for excellence, and a trophy cabinet to reflect it. “Maybe this is one of the reasons we are award-winning, because we’re going above and beyond. We’re not just going in there and giving someone a cup of tea: we’re going in there and providing care. By being that intermediary between the district nurse and the hospital. Trying to stop people going into the hospital by identifying if someone’s got an ear infection. Let’s call a doctor out, let’s get some antibiotics.”

Knocking Inspections for Six

As all care managers know, winning awards and securing ‘outstanding’ ratings is not just about being able to deliver high-quality care. You have to keep records of your actions as proof for the regulator. Eidyn Care have been digital from the start, and they were using CarePlanner when their first inspection came around.

Lorcán, Lee, Duncan, Andrew and Rebecca with their CARE badges

“I think that’s why they (Scottish Care Inspectorate) gave us six (SCI’s ‘Outstanding’ rating equivalent) the first time they came. The fact we could just pull a record,” says Andrew. “We had all the training in there, so lots of training – run a report – there’s all the training. What hours have they done? There’s all the hours. What clients have they have seen and their punctuality? They were really impressed with that. 

“Then we got a new care inspector who came in since we had (Everylife) PASS and she was really impressed with all the care plans and how we can change them on a minute to minute basis to say, okay give this guy meds sooner, or whatever it is they need.”

What the Future Holds…

With so much success in their first two years, one can’t help but wonder what the future holds for Eidyn Care, and how much bigger they plan on getting. Andrew has a clear criteria:

“I think when it’s not personable – when Rebecca doesn’t know the client – I think that’s when you want to stop. I’d like to go into a couple of other cities and basically become a champion of palliative across Scotland. So that we are experts in palliative care and so we can become trainers in it. We can set up another Eidyn Care in Sterling or Perth or Glasgow that does exactly the same. That is, looking after people that have the really complex care needs but don’t have a company that is able to support them…but we won’t cut corners to take on extra work.”

It’s hard to imagine that Scotland would fail to benefit from an expansion of Eidyn Care and its approach to palliative care. It is one of the most emotionally demanding callings imaginable. The ability to provide light to people in their final moments is rare, and a place that can cultivate and shape said ability is even rarer. Eidyn Care is one such rarity. A place where professional skill and personal touch are synonymous. And it is a magic entirely their own.