Artisan Aunties is a brand-new recruitment service specialising in home care provision, and it’s set to shake up the sector.
It is a new division of recruitment agency Artisan People and will bring the same passion and customer service excellence to the recruitment and selection of carers as Artisan People has in other industries for the past three decades. Using their experience, the Aunties will “bring excellent standards to the sector and wrap a loving arm around it”.
As the care sector is entirely dependent on the people who provide the care, we thought it would be a good idea to introduce you to the people behind Artisan Aunties, to find out more about their business philosophy and how they’re planning to make a real difference.
Jo Ashworth and Tim Seyner Harness are the Founder Directors of Artisan People and the power behind Artisan Aunties. As individuals, each is capable of lighting up the room – together they are inspirational. They genuinely care about their staff, as well as their candidates and clients, and while they demand great things from their people, they’ve created a fun, supportive work environment that encourages loyalty and respect.
They lead from the front, putting huge amounts of energy and positivity into their work, and are more than prepared to put the hours in. Even though they’re alike in their energy and the speed at which they talk, they bring different and complementary skills to the table. Which is why the partnership has worked so well. Both are upfront and vocal about how much they love and respect each other and love working with each other.
But it wasn’t always like this.
They first met 23 years ago when Tim applied for a job with the recruitment agency that Jo had originally established alone. He was down to the final two for the job, but Jo wanted the other candidate. Thankfully for them, she was persuaded otherwise, and the rest is history. From humble beginnings as Jo’s trainee, Tim quickly became such an important part of the company, he now owns half of it!
So what is it that makes their Artisan partnership so special? According to Jo: “Tim is absolutely fearless, and everyone loves him – it’s a great combination. He’s the best business partner anyone could have.” Tim is just as enthusiastic: “Jo is an ideas juggernaut – and every idea is amazing. She’s as inspired now as she was 20 years ago. We work well together because she comes up with the ideas and I make sure they work!”
The pair are on the same wavelength and share the philosophy that the ability and willingness to provide a great customer experience is the most important thing they look for in candidates. Taking a ‘doing it better’ philosophy as their central pillar, they have been able to successfully branch out into fulfilling the recruitment needs of diverse sectors including luxury retail, travel retail, museums and galleries, corporate and finance, and digital marketing.
And now they’re launching a new sister company. It’s under the Artisan umbrella and has the same people-centric philosophy, combined with their own experiences caring for older family members across the country. Their aim is to bring a new perspective to the concept of home care with a service that’s more of a concierge package created around the practical and emotional needs of the client.
Jo explains how it came about. “Care is a poorly serviced industry, and the coronavirus has made it clear that care homes have to change. No one wants to put a family member into one anyway, but what’s happened this year has made it more imperative to find ways of allowing relatives to live independently as much as possible.
“We’ve both had to care for older family members – my Dad’s 93, and over the past few years we’ve used home carers to help him out. The nature of the help he has needed has changed over time. At first it was really someone to talk to and help him with the cleaning. Then he had a hip replacement and needed more care, so we got someone to help out with the cooking and to walk the dog. Now he’s older, he needs someone to help him wash. I went through a specialist agency to find carers for him, but the one I used was lacklustre and it was a real struggle to get them to provide someone with an understanding of all of my Dad’s needs – including things like filling out forms for him or taking him to hospital appointments.”
Tim’s experience has been more extreme. His husband’s grandmother was robbed by her carers. Unsurprisingly he doesn’t have much faith in carer provision. “It is a poorly serviced sector, and people aren’t treated with respect. Too many agencies are run shoddily and will just bung someone in to fill a vacancy. This is something we both feel very strongly about, and our aim, through Artisan Aunties, is to improve things for those being cared for, their families, and also the carers themselves. And there are some fantastic carers out there who are amazing at what they do.”
There are a number of differences that Artisan Aunties will bring to the sector, based on Jo and Tim’s wealth of experience recruiting the right people with the right attitude for a multitude of clients.
Attitude – All the Aunties will be recruited because of their positive attitude towards their work and their clients – the Artisan Aunties team are looking for people with respect, empathy and kindness. The right outlook is far more important than skills and qualifications which can be taught through Artisan People’s new online Training Foundation.
Organise your own Auntie – There will be clients who want to stay in control and recruit their own Aunties. Or those who sadly don’t have anyone else to help them. We are very happy to talk to anyone who needs a friendly face and a bit of extra help so they can continue to live independently at home.
Aunties – The Aunties will be the ones providing the care. The care can be anything that would help out an older person, and it depends on the individual’s needs. It could be something as simple as companionship or a bit of cleaning, to gardening, cooking, odd jobs, help with washing and dressing, giving lifts to hospital appointments or going shopping. It’s important to take into account that ‘care’ isn’t confined to the practicalities – loneliness is a huge problem amongst the older population, so taking someone out for a coffee, or a drive, or even a day trip to the seaside is an important part of the care package.
Great Aunts – The Aunties will be supervised by their Great Aunts. Crucially, it is also the Great Aunts’ job to keep in touch with the families, letting them know how things are and liaising with them to sort out any problems. Communication is a key aspect of the service and is something that not many agencies value. In Jo’s case, she has been frustrated by the fact that her Dad’s carers never get in touch with her – she always has to call them. That’s why it’s an integral part of the Artisan Aunties service to have constant communication between the Great Aunts and the families.
Longevity – We want our Aunties to stay with their clients as long as possible. Their roles will evolve with time to reflect the changes in their clients’ abilities and provide for their needs. As they become more vulnerable, being cared for by people they have got to know and trust over the past few years will be a great reassurance for them and their families.
Jo and Tim have spent their entire careers putting people at the centre of everything they do. Their aim for Artisan Aunties is to not only benefit clients but also offer new job opportunities, especially at a time when so many people are experiencing redundancy. As Tim pointed out: “There are some really great people working in care, but whatever their experience, they will all go through the Artisan People filters that all our candidates do. It’s all about finding the right person, and we need people with a special kind of temperament to be able to offer our trademark service level.”
As the nation picks up the pieces of the crisis caused by the pandemic, it is clear that the world of work is changing. There are many excellent people with the right attitude and skills who need to find new career paths, and Artisan Aunties will offer the opportunities for them to upskill and move on.
Jo concludes: “Everything’s new, but the Artisan People experience isn’t, and we are going to bring many fresh faces into this job market. And we want everyone who works for us to be proud to wear the Artisan Aunties badge.”