Careers & Education

Angels4U: the solution for those wanting care support staff

BY NADINE WILSON Career & Education reporter wilsonn@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, December 22, 2013    

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IT'S a business that was born from her own personal dilemma, but founder of Angels4U Jacqueline Hall-Stewart believes the recruitment agency is the solution for those who are challenged to find good care support staff to take care of their convalescent or elderly relatives.

"I encountered many difficulties in remotely sourcing qualified care for my elderly mother who was ailing in Jamaica. I was frustrated by the fact that I had to rely on friends and family to oversee my mother's care support. It was at that point that I came up with the idea to start a recruiting company that would be a one-stop shop providing experienced, qualified careers for persons in need in the comfort of their home," said Hall-Stewart, who started the business just a few months ago.

Although she lives in the United Kingdom, Hall-Stewart's business partner Melody Cammock-Gayle, along with other employees, are able to see to it that the business is able to fulfil its mandate. The team, however, maintains contact through Skype, and frequent visits from the UK are also planned to ensure that there is some amount of face-to-face communication as well.

Hall-Stewart explained that every effort is made by her company to recruit and train a wide contingent of support staff, which includes practical nurses, housekeepers, nannies, drivers and personal assistants. Persons in this field are encouraged to apply to enter the company's pool of care personnel and are then considered for employment when someone puts in a request for personal care service.

"So, in other words, if you wanted somebody to look after your mother who was ailing, you now have a structured business that you can come to and ask for that resource. What we do is that we vet, we screen the personnel. They have to have the relevant training in place. We take up the relevant references, we also do police checks," explained Hall-Stewart.

"So we take the stress out of it, so that by the time you come to us, you should be assured that you are getting what you want in terms of the right person to match your needs," she said.

Hall-Stewart, who is a trained teacher with over 20 years' experience working in business, marketing, government and property management, recalls her sense of disappointment with local recruitment agencies and hopes to rectify this problem.

"I had always expected that I would just pick up the phone and speak to an agency which would be a properly formulated business, that I could say, 'Look, I just need this person, could you find someone for me', but that was not the case," she said.

"I was really frustrated because I realised there were no formal structures in place and I just felt that I could use what we have here in England in terms of a formal structure and apply it to what is here in Jamaica and try to offer a service similar to what we could be having here in England."

Hall-Stewart said although the business is new, the response has been very encouraging so far, as many persons have applied to be placed in their pool of human resources. Even so, she explained that their biggest challenge to date "has been finding the right calibre of personnel that meet the skills and training requirements".

In addition to raising the standards of care personnel, one of the objectives of Angels4U is also to restore some sort of dignity to the profession.

"I would hope that by having something like this in place, it will help to organise these workers and help them to gainfully and consistently channel them into employment for people to recognise and give them their due and treat them with respect, and for them to feel a sense of pride in what they are doing, because right now I feel that they are terribly underestimated and I hope that by what we are doing and by them having a sense of pride in what they are doing, it will raise the standard of the care industry," she said.

Cammock-Gayle said she was more than happy to come on board when her friend mentioned the business idea. A marketer by profession, one of her focuses has been the needs and nuances of their target market.

"Everybody has a story about some nightmarish experience they have with a helper or caregiver in their home, so right away, they understand the need for it," she said.

"It is very important for us to provide the clients with persons that we would like to have in our own homes. I have to question it. If I'm putting you in somebody's house, would you be the type of person that I would like in my own house, looking after my own loved ones, be it my child or my mother?"

Even after placing a care worker in someone's house, Cammock-Gayle explained that checks are done periodically to ensure that their clients are satisfied with the care worker they were assigned.

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