From combat to caring: Why Home From Home Care is an armed forces friendly employer


By Paul de Savary | May 13, 2022

Ex-Armed Forces personnel might not be the first people care providers think of when looking for new employees, but Paul de Savary of Home From Home Care tells us why this is a pool of talent the sector should not be ignoring.

A few months ago, Home From Home Care signed the Armed Forces Covenant; a pledge to support current and former service personnel and their families in civilian life.

For us, this means taking steps to ensure members of the armed forces community are welcome and given sufficient support and flexibility based on their individual needs and circumstances.

As well as welcoming applications from veterans and their spouses, and guaranteeing interviews for those who meet our job specifications, we offer additional flexibility and support, and we recognise military experience and qualifications. We’ll also proudly support events such as Armed Forces Day, Reserves Day and the Poppy Appeal and we directly target the armed forces community for recruitment.

Shared objectives

For care providers who’ve never employed current or former service personnel, you may be wondering why we’re so passionate about recruiting people in the forces – afterall, combat and caring seem worlds apart in many respects!

We believe that every person in the armed forces is a person who has a determination to make a difference. I find that people in the forces are thoroughly motivated individuals who strive to do something worthwhile and help others ahead of themselves. Their dedication and work ethic is second to none and they’re not only willing to go the extra mile, they’ve gone to unimaginable lengths.

It sounds cliché, but these are people who form unbreakable working relationships, who are used to dealing with stress, and who can hold their nerve to exercise patience and respond to every challenge with a level-headed confidence. On top of this, the Services teach people a wide range of skills which have direct parallels in civilian life, ranging from broad skills such as communication and management through to conflict resolution, logistics, engineering, catering and IT.

Currently, we employ six armed forces veterans in a range of roles across Home From Home Care and each of them brings a host of talents which make them exemplary employees and outstanding carers.

One of these six is Captain Mark Nottingham. Mark was an Operations Officer in the Royal Logistics Corps and now he’s a Business Development Manager at Home From Home Care after a 28 year career in the forces.

I had a rewarding and successful military career from the age of just under 16, travelling the world in both pleasant and inhospitable environments in progressive roles linked to Logistics, HR, Planning, Aid Operations & Welfare,’ says Mark. ‘My operational deployments included Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Bosnia, Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan; incorporating peacetime assignments to Falkland Islands, Germany, Norway, Turkey, Belize, and Cyprus.

‘The Armed Forces’ strength is founded on strong leadership and mutual respect for each other, and a professional community to support common aims and objectives. Social care is no different; my experience has evidenced identical principles where leadership, integrity, loyalty and respect for others combines to harness the strengths of people to build and foster a community that supports people.’

Taking a new approach

There is one caveat which makes us particularly drawn to people with a diverse background and skill set: we have developed an all-encompassing data-driven approach called our New Model of Care (NewModel), which, at a personal level, unlocks the creativity and initiative of each colleague, leading to outstanding care for the individuals they support.

This ‘One Team’ approach comprises colleagues fulfilling their potential and developing and sharing their skills within small linked specialist teams including 40 ‘Intersourcers’. Informed by data that analyses trends, changes and opportunities by joining the dots between each department, care home colleague and service, every team member counts and makes a difference. Like the armed forces, we have a real shared purpose, a sense of belonging, and we uphold a just culture.

This approach came into its own during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mark says,

The pandemic presented an array of challenges overnight, with notable impact to a wide range of supporting business services combined with appreciating new norms of working; we had to quickly adapt our business continuity plans to build resilience. Innovative and creative ideas from the ground up were adopted and applied with great success, as is often the case in military operations. We adapted, improvised and overcame. In true ‘One Team’ spirit everyone came together to assure our services could not only continue to deliver high levels of care and support but also bring added value through new ways of organising the business model. Post pandemic, we continue to significantly benefit from this inherent creativity and innovative application and look forward to meeting new challenges head on. We are unafraid of change; we look to learn from our failures, and we embrace the future no matter what challenge confronts us.’

Finding the right fit

With more than 90 different roles and specialisms across Home From Home Care, a candidate can be hugely valuable to our company even if they don’t have relevant experience in the care industry. A person could join us and work in IT, marketing, recruitment, maintenance, HR, data analysis, management, accounting, you name it. So even if a person doesn’t have the qualities to be a care worker, they can still thrive in a career in care.

This prompts us to look beyond the typical care sector employee to a wider range of people who can complement our team; we seek out people with experience in a wide range of other professions, with different backgrounds, interests and talents.

Mark shared his views on moving from the army to the care sector, saying, ‘I’ve found social care to be a really dynamic sector to move into, especially as Home From Home Care is such an innovative organisation to work for. I’ve been able to transfer my diverse skill set from working in the forces to my role as Business Development Manager – leading new advancements for our unique data driven model of care. It’s been a great career move for me, there is so much scope for progression and a huge amount of job satisfaction knowing I have a direct impact in transforming the lives of the individuals we support. I would definitely recommend other service personnel to start a career in care.’

Of course, veterans aren’t necessarily people who’ve only just left the forces. Since he left the forces, former RAF officer, Les Venus, has worked as an engineer and a management consultant – he even helped the Government draft the 2010 Equality Act. On the brink of retirement in 2016, Les spotted one of our job adverts and now he’s a personal support worker. He said, ‘I’d never done care work in my life before this and if I’d have known about this 40 years ago, I’d have made this my career. It’s an amazing thing to do.’

Emphasising flexibility

Another, equally important, part of supporting the armed forces is in supporting the partners and family members of people who are serving our country. Faced with the prospect of their home lives transforming in an instant when their loved one is called redeployed, relocated or when they return home after a tour of duty, for family members a little flexibility goes a long way. For people with partners in the Forces, we allow flexible leave for before, during and after deployment as well as flexible shifts which can work around their personal lives. If someone’s partner has been reassigned to another station, we’ll also allow them to change their working location to a site that’s closer to their new home if possible. 

For reservists, who could be called upon for lengthy training or deployment at a moment’s notice, we also offer additional leave to allow them to fulfil their duties.

This is all on top of the broader benefits we offer to our team members, including flexible shifts, flexible payment schemes, a free counselling service, access to professional and personal support and occupational health support, each of which is also of benefit to the Forces community.

Mark told us, ‘My initial perceptions of social care were shaped by the media, negative stories of harm, neglect and exploitation. My experience is completely contrary to these headline events. I consider myself privileged to work amongst colleagues who deliver wholehearted selfless support to others; unassuming professionals who do not just see this a job, but a way of life that can offer a rewarding career in an understated sector.

‘We are all aware of the military adage ‘7 Ps’: Prior Preparation and Planning, Prevents Piss Poor Performance. The same truths are embraced in the care sector, where your leadership, communication, adaptably, perseverance, teamwork and ability to work under pressure all come into their own and are easily transferable to a rewarding caring role.’

We’re very proud to be one of just 215 large employers in the healthcare sector to have signed the Armed Forces Covenant and I’d strongly encourage other care providers to join us in pledging support for the armed forces community. As we look to build on our existing commitments under the covenant, I’m very much looking forward to helping more service personnel and their families in future.

For more information about Home From Home Care, including how to apply for a role, please visit www.homefromhomecare.com.

About Paul de Savary

Paul de Savary is managing director of Home From Home Care, a family-owned care provider for adults with learning disabilities, autism and complex physical and mental health needs. Motivated by their search for a suitable care home for their daughter, Paul, Ann and their son Hugo de Savary founded Home From Home Care to be a care provider unlike any other. The award-winning organisation operates 11 residential care homes and specialist integration services across Greater Lincolnshire.

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