By Alex Evans, Editorial Director, National Business Awards

With Britain’s oldest person living to the grand age of 111, many have realised the opportunity that exists in care for the elderly - with several businesses recognised for related services in this year’s National Business Awards.

Churchill Retirement Living, one of ten finalists for this year’s Employer of the Year Award for its initiatives to qualify and motivate staff to deliver the highest standards of service, is positioning itself for growth in independent accommodation for the over 60s.

“Over the next 30 years, the population aged 65 years and over is set to rise from 9.7 million to 17 million - an increase of 76%,” explains its Chairman & Group Managing Director, Spencer McCarthy, quoting ‘A National Strategy for Housing in an Ageing Society’, a government white paper from February 2008. “The number of people aged 75 years and over is expected to increase by 4.4million, or 95%, and the number of people aged 85 years and over is likely to rise by 2.3million - an increase of 184%. Looking further into the future, a child born today has a one in five chance of celebrating his or her one hundredth birthday.”

Allied Healthcare Group, which specialises in homecare domiciliary and healthcare services, has diversified beyond elderly care to care services for individuals with learning disabilities and even rehabilitation from drug abuse. Having achieved double digit growth over the last 18 months in its homecare division, it is one of ten nominated finalists for the Grant Thornton Mid Cap Business of the Year.

Raising standards

Echoing Churchill’s emphasis on improved customer care, CEO Sandy Young said that a focus on quality and improved service has put it in good stead. “We introduced operational audits that are very far reaching and help to benchmark and improve our branches performance,” he explained, adding that E-learning training for its 10,000 care staff improved service while maintaining flexibility for staff.

Focusing on a niche area of care, apetito provides food and services to the elderly through Meals on Wheels (partnering with 150 Local Authorities), care homes and supplying 75 NHS Trusts. Short-listed for both the Orange Innovation and BlackBerry Customer Focus Awards, it has engineered a ‘Dine with dignity’ product for those with difficulty swallowing. Commenting on its collaboration with customers to ensure success, and continually improve, apetito’s business development director, Ian Stone, said: “Our innovation has been created in consultation with customers, suppliers, dieticians, carers, and occupational therapists.”

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