A CHANGE in careers has led a West Byfleet woman to run one of the largest home care providers in the area.

Sarah Daly bought the Guildford and Woking franchise of Home Instead in 2012 with nine staff and 26 clients. Eight and-a-half years later, her company has 105 staff and 110 clients.

Sarah had previously worked in senior positions in the corporate print industry, which was being severely hit by online competition. She was encouraged by friends who run the Epsom Home Instead to buy the franchise nearest to her home.

“It was important to work in this area and be able to give back locally,” said Sarah.

She started off in a small office in Send and has moved into bigger premises twice, and is now based on the Lansbury Estate in Knaphill.

Sarah brought her business experience to the service and soon appreciated the difference it makes, allowing elderly people to continue to live independently and safely in their own homes.

“I am the daughter of a doctor and nurse and so I suppose there is a caring gene in me,” she said.

Home Instead runs a large range of services, starting off with help a few hours a week to live-in and 24-hour care.

“Clients or their families will realise that they need just a little help to keep their independence and then the level of support can increase,” Sarah added. “We regularly review our clients' needs.”

Helping people to stay in their own homes makes a huge difference to their lives.

“They have all the things they have chosen over the years around them and why would they want to give all that up and move everything into one room? There is a lot of care you can have in your own home before you need to leave. It’s about having the correctly trained person to provide support and the right equipment,” Sarah said.

Home Instead specialises in supporting people with dementia and also helps younger people who need support.

Sarah said the signs of someone needing support can start with something such as them being nervous to use the shower after a fall, or having difficulty cooking because of eyesight problems.

Help with these tasks has wider health and wellbeing benefits, as well as providing companionship for someone who is living on their own and whose family are not nearby.

Some of the younger people supported by Home Instead are helped to go horse riding, take part in art classes or go for a walk.

Home Instead has kept operating throughout the pandemic, with its carers wearing personal protective equipment and following other measures to keep themselves and their clients safe from infection.

The office stayed open, with staff put into teams who worked from home on a rota. Dividers were put in place in the office and people working there have been wearing facemasks.

Sarah said the carers have been a lifeline for clients, especially those whose families live far away.

She is proud that her Guildford and Woking Home Instead has earned an Outstanding rating by the Care Quality Commission, which is relatively rare in the sector.

“People are drawn to that because they want to choose the best,” Sarah said.

The team have received many notes of thanks and very positive reviews.

A man whose parents are supported by Home Instead, wrote: “Home Instead came to me via personal recommendation and I couldn’t be happier with the service provided to my parents. More importantly, my parents, both fiercely independent and initially very reluctant, have been delighted with the support they are receiving.

“I was entirely new to the complex minefield that is senior care, but the team at Home Instead have helped me navigate a path that is working well for my parents and providing me with peace of mind.”

Another reviewer wrote: “Home Instead have been helping me to care for my mum since she fell three years ago. Since then, she has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia and everyone at Home Instead have supported me and my family during this difficult time.

“The carers are wonderful and mum looks forward to their visits. I couldn’t manage without them.”