Cornwall LivingIssue #80
Caring for Cornwall
We hear the Bluebird Care story and discover the benefits of companionship care.
Why is the Care sector so undervalued? This is the question that nags in the minds and hearts of Carol and Graham Carruthers, founders of Bluebird Care in Cornwall. Graham tells us: “Carers do amazing work in difficult circumstances. With early starts and late nights, they’re often the only person their clients see in a day, bringing happiness and order to their daily lives; they have to remain cheerful and helpful no matter how they feel. Their role is full on and central to the whole health and social care team working alongside doctors and nurses, social workers and therapists, providing the link and real contact with people who wouldn’t be able to cope without them.”
“These are the unsung heroes, often working on their own, resourceful and adaptable, who give tirelessly to their clients on a daily basis, enabling them to achieve greater quality and fulfilment in daily life.”
This is the world that Carol and Graham have come to promote and celebrate, for the exceptional and committed characters who they work with every day. It was not their intention to start a new business after retiring and moving to Fowey however, their idyll of coastal walks and relaxation changed when their elderly mums began to struggle with their health needs. Graham’s mum needed prolonged help at home after an operation left her immobile and consequently her live-in companion took over the cooking, shopping and household chores, entertaining her friends and well-wishers, until she was able to be up and about again. Carol’s mum had early dementia and needed an on-going routine, so her live-in companion helped her with medication, regular food and drink, and was a cheerful face to take her out and reduce her loneliness and isolation.
Carol tells us: “Having our mums go through the care process was a real eye-opener and got us thinking. Our research showed a shortage of care at home providers, and a need for good year-round employment in Cornwall, so we decided to do something about it.” The couple subsequently set up the award-winning Bluebird Care franchise in Truro in 2012, which now employs over 100 staff across the county, and was the first ever care-at-home provider in Cornwall to achieve an ‘Overall Outstanding’ rating from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in 2016.
This new venture combined the couple’s skills and experience, Carol as an NHS Nurse and Health Visitor for 30 years, and Graham in management running charities and businesses. They love the variety, deep satisfaction, and achievements of their care teams, who make a fulfilling difference to the lives of their clients, and a rewarding contribution to the Cornish economy all year round.
In particular, they value live-in companionship care, which they experienced first hand for their mums, and see it as a revolutionary lifestyle choice that can enormously enhance enjoyment of retirement years, easing the burden and worries of living in your own home. Bluebird Care knows how essential it is to get the relationship with a companionship carer right, and make sure it stays that way. Carol and Graham realise that not many people have come across live-in companionship care before, and are keen to get the message out. Many people come to Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to retire as they enjoy the beautiful surroundings, sea air and milder climate, but find life can become more lonely and simple tasks quite challenging, especially after a period of illness or bereavement. “This doesn’t need to be the case,” says Carol “and live-in companionship is a positive choice to enhance retirement, with someone to share and enjoy this wonderful county with.”
This year, Bluebird Care is actively involved with the Proud to Care South West Campaign which is a partnership of 16 local authorities and Health Education England working together in an attempt to promote the status of care work and encourage people to consider careers in health and care. They hope this might at last help to turn the tide and bring a greater understanding and appreciation for the wonderful care community that Bluebird Care is proud to be part of.
To find your nearest Bluebird Care contact, head to the website and put in the postcode TR1 2DP, or give them a call.
"These are the unsung heroes, often working on their own, resourceful and adaptable, who give tirelessly to their clients on a daily basis, enabling them to achieve greater quality and fulfilment in daily life.”