From one to many: Friends Who Care grows to meet expanding client needs
Friends Who Care was started as a one person business in Melbourne with one client by Michelle Dalton in 2019 who began by looking after a long time friend with Multiple Sclerosis.
Her friend, Caroline, suggested Michelle take on caring as a full time career as she was so good at providing assistance and helping her maintain her independence.
Inspiration came from clients in unexpected ways and she enjoyed seeing the progress clients were making, even in the little things like getting a client’s room tidied for them because it was stressing them out.
From that start, Michelle’s client roster grew, and now Friends Who Care is a rapidly growing care provider with more than 100 clients and 42 staff.
“We grew predominantly through word of mouth referrals, and we are constantly being asked to take on more clients,” Kelly Keen, Michelle’s daughter, said.
“We are told, and are very proud of the fact, that we are recommended because of the way in which our staff provide care in the way the clients want and need it – we are not a one size fits all offering,” Kelly said.
Having a small business background, Michelle knew there would be significant administration involved in running a care business. But as the business grew from a small number of staff to more than 40, combined with the management of more than 100 clients, she needed a solution that could match Friends Who Care’s needs.
“We began using a free application that managed scheduling, but whilst that worked well, it was only one piece of our rapidly expanding and complex administrative needs.” So much administration was required, it employed three people nearly full time to manage.
The ShiftCare experience
Before Shiftcare, rostering and invoicing were “a nightmare”.
“Because of the growth, from worrying only about managing one person, her roster and her invoices, to managing 45 staff and 100 clients, admin increased exponentially,” Kelly said.
Originally using the free app created its own problems.
“The app was only for scheduling and was not purpose built for the care industry. It provided no streamlining. It still left us reliant on paper based systems and multiple handling and duplication to get everything done.”
It was getting to the stage that payday each week was taking until 10pm to process.
“It was just taking up way too much time with one of our admin staff spending most of their time invoicing from paper based records, as much as five hours per day.”
“When we discovered ShiftCare it freed up time in so many ways and has really helped our business.
Before ShiftCare, we felt we could not cope with growing the business further because of the level of admin. The software has freed up so much time that we are now looking at expanding again.
It’s allowed us to spend more time growing our business and our people, and be able to provide more care to more clients.”
Responsive to needs
Just as Michelle values providing good customer care, she also holds high expectations when working with other organisations.
“To say we have been impressed with ShiftCare’s service is an understatement”
Michelle was also impressed by ShiftCare’s response to suggestions for improvements.
“One of the things ShiftCare has been excellent at is assisting during onboarding, and they are very responsive to suggestions for improvements and needs of their customers.
We asked for a signature function within the app, and it was already being created based on similar feedback. Our experience with other software providers was nowhere near as accommodating.
We now have a solution that provides all of our admin needs in one location with one dashboard - it’s just so much easier having everything in the one place.”
With the business growing rapidly, the next steps for Friends Who Care is to look at expanding to a formal shopfront office location, and offering new services like Friends Who Camp.
“Friends Who Camp has been something we’ve done a couple of times with small groups and it has been really well received, and we now have demand for camps, so we’ll set that up as partner business to Friends Who Care - the same people providing the service, with the same caring mindset with awareness of the needs of our clients.”
Friends Who Care has also recently started Friends Who Coordinate, a support coordinating service.
“We found that we struggled working with external support coordinators who didn’t always share the same values of high quality care as us, so we decided to step up and do it ourselves”
Kelly says there is never a dull moment in the care industry.
“The variety of work and satisfaction of being able to help people in positive ways is just so rewarding.”