Care provider seeks to provide quality offering for Wrexham residents

Quality care in later life is something which matters to everyone and for Orchard Care, which has two homes in the Wrexham area, providing a high standard of care for its residents is central to its ethos.

When Dave and Gemma Atkins started out in the sector in 2009, they immediately saw the need for quality care provision in the Wrexham area, and sought to give residents at their homes the best possible quality of life.

 

Of course, it’s been a very difficult year for the care sector. Here, Dave explains not only the business’ story, but also tells us how Orchard Care responded quickly to ensure the safety of its staff and residents was at the very core of its operation.

 

Tell us about Orchard Care
We’re in the business of caring. That means a commitment to the people who are residents in our homes, as well as a commitment to the people who work for us.

We’ve been doing this now for more than a decade, and when we started out, we wanted to be a care provider which put quality at the very heart of our offering.

 

Our story begins in 2009, when we purchased Cherry Tree Care Home. It was a 17-bed home but we had plans to improve it. In two years we extended it to 37 beds and we further expanded the business in 2017 when we bought Bay Tree House.

We’ve always wanted to create care homes with a family feel and where people feel valued, supported and heard. Bay Tree House is in a quiet residential area of Wrexham, and with a lot of hard work we have turned it into an exclusive boutique hotel-style nursing home.

 

The refurbishment involved a complete luxury upgrade and cost £1m. In the process we increased our capacity from 36 to 46 beds. We now have a total of 76 staff employed in the group.

It’s been hard work but seeing the end result has given Gemma and I huge satisfaction.

 

 

What are your proudest moments in business so far?
Without a doubt it was when we completed the luxury upgrade and refurbishment of Bay Tree House, our second residential home. Opening that property was such a proud moment for us.

We raised finance from Santander along with family for the acquisition of our first home, Cherry Tree.

 

We then moved to Barclays for the purchase of Bay Tree and sourced additional funding from the Development Bank of Wales to complete the refurbishment.

It hasn’t been easy to raise the money we needed to get to where we are and has taken a bit longer than we expected. But working to make our vision come true is what keeps us going.

 

What challenges have you faced in business?
COVID-19 has posed a whole host of new challenges for us as care providers.

We’ve seen our occupancy levels drop, at the same time as costs have increased.

There’s more workload for the business now thanks to the extra paperwork, policies and procedures we are working with. And there continues to be constant changes and developments in these policies.

It’s a story of keeping ourselves up to date and abreast of everything we need to know.

We put ourselves in a full lockdown in March, and staff lived-in for six weeks. Since then all staff wear PPE and follow the company’s own procedures – it’s a methodology which we believe in and has kept staff and residents safe.

 

 

If you were starting again, what would you do differently?
That’s a difficult one to answer. I think we’re always assessing the decisions we’ve made in the past and how those decisions impact on the business right now.

Pinpointing exact moments which we’d like to change is hard. I think our journey from initially owning one home to two has been a growth both in business terms but also for us, wanting to give as many people as possible the best possible care in later life.

 

How has support from Business Wales AGP helped your business?
Expert support from Business Wales AGP was really beneficial to us when we needed to market the homes and increase occupancy rates.

 

Working with Business Wales AGP has also led us to commission further work, such as professional pictures, a video and an upgrade to our website. This has been invaluable to our growth.

What advice and guidance would you give other businesses starting out?

  • Never give up and keep going. I’ve faced many hurdles in business and part of what keeps me going is the drive and determination to succeed and not fall at each hurdle. I believe the reward is greater if the work is harder.
  • Seek advice and support. There’s plenty out there, and Business Wales AGP is a massively helpful resource if you’re starting out in business.
  • Don’t be afraid of making tough decisions. We’ve had to do that along the way and 2020 has been incredibly difficult in so many ways. But we’re here to do the best for our residents and I think holding on to a key value is really important to help you make difficult decisions.

To learn more about Orchard Care visit here.

Further information on the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme

 

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