Why does your care home exist? Usually, when I ask that question, I see the person I’m asking looking at me puzzled and maybe open mouthed as they try to form an answer.
She might finally say, “Chris, it exists to provide the care people who can’t look after themselves need.” At the same time she might be thinking, why do you think it exists? Idiot.
Having decided that I was serious and assumed I’m not an idiot, the person would then try to explain. It’s hard to state what is seemingly obvious. But as the person talks about the difference her care home makes to the lives of her residents and their loved ones, almost immediately I hear a change in her.
A stirring, a passion, like the remnant of a distant memory, builds in her voice and is reflected in her posture. I ask more and the passion builds further. The person stops and looks at me like they’ve just bumped into a long-lost friend.
It’s all coming back to her – starting out, her first staff and clients, the excitement, the laughter and the tears, the reason why she started in the first place – all these things she’d not thought of for years.
Suddenly, seemingly dumb questions raise feelings that have been buried for years like flowers blanketing a desert overnight after a rare shower.
The answers these kinds of questions dig up can be inspiring and energising so why not make them official? Why not make them core statements that lie at the heart of your organisation?
Your Core Statements
At the heart of your business and the core of your business foundation should lie 4 four important statements. They are important because they define your business and remind you why you started it in the first place. They will help to inspire you and your people and help keep you on course.
These statements are your Purpose, Vision, Mission and Values.
What is the Purpose of your Care Home?
Why does your care home exist? What is its purpose -‐ its raison d’être? Where is it going and how will it get there? What is it aiming to achieve? If it didn’t exist would anyone notice? Does it impact lives?
You may implicitly know the answers to these questions but answering them explicitly is such a worthwhile exercise and can be harder than you think.
As you write down your answers you start to discover a deeper meaning to the purpose of your business and the benefits it brings. You start to think more about the value you deliver and less about the actual service you deliver.
The reasons you do what you do can be so much more than what you first thought, so much more than simply the service you provide. And if your business does make a real difference then state it. You’ll find it inspiring. It’ll remind you why you do what you do and will help you drive on and through the bad times that all business owners experience.
When you create a strong purpose statement, it’ll sit at the core of your organisation and anchor it, like a stake in the ground, to the reasons why it was formed in the first place.
It is the constant in your business, its soul and a guiding light. It will help you stay on course. No matter how much your business changes or how much it evolves, that purpose won’t change and will always inspire.
A strong purpose is also a statement of the choices you have made and the path you travel. “We do this. We don’t do that.” It can create focus and drive and meaning. It’s a commitment without compromise. It can be the starting point for the value that you create and set you apart from the rest.
An organisation without a purpose lacks distinction. IKEA purposely targets younger people and sells affordable furniture that has a certain style. Thanks to IKEA a young couple can afford to have nice furniture and not boring furniture that looks cheap.
A compelling purpose statement can bring people together. Instead of “We sell furniture”, which is what they do but does nothing to set it apart from the rest, IKEA’s purpose is to create “a better everyday life for the many”. It focuses on the value it brings, not the service it delivers.
As a result, the people who work for IKEA don’t believe they’re simply selling affordable furniture; they believe they are “creating a better everyday life” for their customers.
If you have not defined your care home’s purpose it is not too late.
Spend some time on this and refine it over and again because you won’t get it right first time. Ask the questions I stated earlier and ask questions like, “Why do I do what I do?” “Does my business matter?” “If it disappeared would it leave a hole or would someone else be able to quickly take my place?” “What can I say that will inspire me and my people and bring out the best in all of us?”
You might start with, “We provide care.” But I’m sure you won’t end with that.
Communicate your purpose. Make sure everyone, understands and embraces it and make sure that it remains central to all you do.
The purpose of our business, Quality of Care is, “We help care homes businesses succeed.”
It’s not complicated or clever and doesn’t say what we do but instead what value we bring. This stems from the fact that record numbers of care homes go under when they shouldn’t and when our society needs more and more of them to succeed. Its why we started the business.
Your Vision Statement
Is your vision well understood and embraced by all who work for you?
Your Vision Statement should provide direction. It is your aspiration that should guide and inspire you and your people. It paints a picture of where you ultimately see your company achieving.
Your vision is really for the benefit of the people in your company. It should support and crystallise your mission with a view of what will be if the mission is successful.
It provides a framework within which the strategy plan resides and should inspire and motivate your employees to work together and drive the business forward.
Great leaders are visionary; it’s what drives them and their people on. Creating a vision statement is not as hard as some make it out to be and you do not need to hire a team of consultants to create it. As the leader of your business, you should already have this future picture in your head. You just need to articulate it.
Make your vision achievable but ambitious. If it is not ambitious, then you will be holding the company back from what is possible. If Henry Ford’s vision was simply to build a motor car then he probably would not have achieved what he did or be remembered like he is. Instead, his vision was to build a car that “no man making a salary will be unable to own and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God’s open spaces.”
To help you build your vision statement, answer these questions:
- What drove me to start this company?
- How would my business look if it could be everything I dream of?
- What will it look like in ten years?
- What will the future needs of our customers be?
When you have created your vision statement does it…
- Inspire and motivate you and your people?
- Clarify and guide your future direction?
- Show you and your people the “big picture”?
- Bring everyone together?
Here are some Vision Statement from organisations you may have heard of:
- Nasa: “To explore ”
- Microsoft: “Create experiences that combine the magic of software with the power of Internet services across a world of “
- Apple: “To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance “
- Toybox: “Our vision is of a world where there are no street children, where families are restored, those who are disadvantaged have choices and hope and all children have a ”
Our vision is for, “A care sector where every care provider has the power to control their care home business and make it as successful as they want it to be.” This comes from the fact that your customers (LAs and CCGs) have too much power when it comes to what your fee levels should be and how you should run your business. The former is the fundamental reason why so many care homes go under.
Your Mission Statement
Your company’s mission statement should primarily describe how you intend to achieve your vision.
The mission is for the benefit of those outside of the company whether customers, partners or other stakeholders. It defines an organisation’s role in the market and should create a unique reason for being.
The Mission Statement should define what your company will do in the next three to five years and what it aims to achieve. The USS Enterprise had a five-year mission to “Explore new worlds.” A mission can be longer – NASA had a ten-‐year mission to be the first to put a man on the moon.
Here are the mission statements of those whose visions we looked at earlier.
- Nasa: “NASA’s mission is to pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics “
- Microsoft: “To enable people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full “
- Apple: “Apple is committed to bringing the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals and consumers around the world through its innovative hardware, software and Internet offerings.”
- Toybox: “Our mission is to bring lasting and positive change to the lives of street children, street working children and those at risk of becoming so, through front line work, prevention and advocacy, being a facilitator and enabler, galvanising people and resources in the UK, Latin America and worldwide.”
Our mission is, “To enable care providers the tools and guidance needed to be able to build strong, financially healthy care home businesses that deliver quality.” Again, this stems from the crisis the care sector has been in for years.
Your Value Statement
We all have values and principles, which guide and define us. These values are the foundations on which we carry out our lives. An organisation is also defined by its values, its core beliefs and its culture.
The beliefs and behaviour of the CEO will permeate throughout an organisation and can become as well known as the products the company sells. (The Body Shop is as well known for its policies on the environment as for its products, which originated from its founder Anita Roddick.)
A value may be an aspiration, such as those large retailers who aim to only use recyclable packaging. They may not be there yet, but the aim can make a difference to shopping habits.
Your beliefs and values can bring your people together and build relationships on an emotional level, which can increase motivation, loyalty and bring the best out in your people.
You should not necessarily instil all your beliefs onto your company (your religious faith for example) and you shouldn’t state anything that you’re not willing to act on. And so, to start with at least, you may consider keeping them limited to those which you and others would expect the company to live by, such as delivering the best of care to those who need it, investing in your people, building strong relationships with key partners and so on.
Take your time to create the core statements that work for your business. Involve others in your organisation and re-visit them to ensure that they stay true to why your business exists.